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The Rift: A New Africa Breaks Free

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  295 ratings  ·  35 reviews
A vivid, powerful and controversial look at how the world gets Africa wrong, and how a resurgent Africa is forcing it to think again.

Africa has long been misunderstood--and abused--by outsiders. Correspondent Alex Perry traveled the continent for most of a decade, meeting with entrepreneurs and warlords, professors and cocaine smugglers, presidents and jihadis. Beginning w
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published November 17th 2015 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 10th 2015)
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4.11  · 
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 ·  295 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Jan 21, 2016 rated it liked it
The author’s thesis, that Africa is experiencing (or will have) a rift – by which he means a break with its past into freedom, is presented in a narrative that is part travelogue, war correspondence, history and political and social commentary. Alex Perry, in covering so many countries in so many aspects, showed me why I prefer more in depth narratives.

Each chapter having its own balance of genre (i.e. history, commentary, travelogue) works well as an independent article. The chapters don’t han
Chris Jaffe
Alex Perry is a journalist who has worked in Africa for much of his career and this book reflects his thoughts on that continent. There are three main points in this book: 1) yes, Africa does have some problems, but 2) the international humanitarian aid that is supposed to address (and ideally even fix) those problems are at best ineffective, and at worst totally counterproductive. And for the record, Perry seems to think they are more counterproductive than effective. His third and final point ...more
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: set-in-africa
Loved this book! While it's a long read with just over 400 pages it never feels tedious. Alex Perry is a gifted writer who consistently delves into historical events in a way that is not only relatively easy to understand but also enjoyable. He portrays the people he interviews in various African countries as real people rather than as stereotypical caricatures usually used to paint a picture of Africans.

He also gives a ton of perspective on the ways US and UK are at fault for a lot of the famin
The Rift, by Alex Perry, is part travelogue, part expose, part critique and part history. It touches on the many aspects that make up Africa's varied states and landscapes. This book worked well in many ways, and was an interesting and refreshing look on a continent that is often ignored, belittled or talked down in western spheres. Perry talks about this issue a lot, on how aid organizations and western governments and development groups treat African's as inferior, and one of the first things ...more
Adam Di Filippe
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I won this for free though a Goodreads Giveaway:

This is a strong collection of insights into the "New Africa."
Definitely worth a read for any global citizen.
Paul Retkwa
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most difficult (for an American) yet rewarding books I've ever read. I can only hope that the author is right.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017reads
Some spoilers, maybe.

3.5 stars ONLY because: the framing of the intro & blurbs paint that this will be the story of new ideas and progress against poverty & corruption, etc. However, in truth: 340 pages are detailed descriptions of fucked up history, imperialist colonization, local corruption, warlords, tribal conflict, the failures of international aid, religious extremism cum terrorism, rape, famine, & lots and lots of death. Then: about 75 pages about new progressive changes &
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a stunning book . The product of a vast amount of time in Africa . Clearly the author has the skill , courage , will and assets to get to the heart and soul of Africa . If you are enthralled with Africa this is a must read
Jeffrey Jarrett
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read in a while.
Pete Davies
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
First hand account of experiences in Africa. Lots of insight into dictators, aid agencies and UN.
Thanks to the publisher and Goodreads for a free copy of the Rift!

The Rift is an thought-provoking, insightful, and often horrifying look into the West's treatment of Africa. Aid workers that cause more harm than good, Kony, and even George Clooney are all addressed in this book, and help to provide readers with important context about Africa's history, present conditions, and future.

I hesitate to say this, because I don't want to take away from the importance of the content -- this seems like a
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a revealing book about the politics of news coverage and the US (and the Western world in general) response to "African problems." The author, having covered many nations on the continent, brings a perspective that is undeniably his own - in a way that I found refreshing, because it isn't as shaded by assumptions often made in writing by non-Africans about Africa. The author breaks through a lot of these assumptions and blind spots, showing how Africans are doing things differently in so ...more
Cc April
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received this book as part of a Goodreads Firstreads promotion.
The Rift: A new Africa Breaks Free by Alex Perry is a highly informative book, written from his knowledgeable perspective. The average person has no clue as to what has gone on and what continues to go on in Africa today. I was surprised to read about what aid workers and their superiors were really like and how they are not interested in helping the people (or actually interacting with them). Their main concern is keeping their j
Christina Craig
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jointly-africa
Last night I was telling my mom everything I had learned from this book and really could not stop talking. Alex Perry carefully exposes such interesting (thoughtful, inspirational, catastrophic) stories about a host of African nations in a variety of contexts (historical, social, cultural, economic, technological). It stuns me. My favorite accounts were of the presidential election in Zimbabwe (and Perry's time in a Zimbabwean prison), the ANC and 'legacy' of Mandela in South Africa, born-again ...more
Tim Shortt
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my2016
There are descriptions in this book that are horrific. I've read a few apocalypse books in the last year; their imaginings don't measure up to the reality of people's lives right now in some parts of the world. Those descriptions are accompanied by a provocative, critical view of western humanitarian aid. It has to be an insurmountable disaster. So it can be hard to reconcile the final hopeful notes in the last section of the book. But then I don't know Africa. The author does, crossing the cont ...more
Tristan Eagling
Jul 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really informative book, the first 3/4 is very much a history lesson about Africa, how much you get out of it will depend on how much you know of Africa already. Although I would still recommend anyone to read it as in places his opinion of events go against an established narrative. The last 1/4 is in my view the most interesting and a great insight into the present and future Africa.

In parts the book is overly simplistic but this is necessary as he has chosen to give an overview of an entire c
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: junk
Nice try. But "Nature creates drought but only man makes a famine?" And the book is full of this kind of deepities. I am sure the guy has some idea, but the brain power is simply not there to express what he has in mind. And the cheap journalistic jargon stays in the way. A New Africa? Aliens came and replaced the old continent with one made of polystyrene? And how come it's new? Just because his white man convictions were not confirmed on site? The old one is the one from grandma's tales? And b ...more
Hapee Groot
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In short a great book, which I would recommend to everybody. Specially Perry's approach to humanistic activists as he call the Aid Sector is very interesting and worth to look through and the role it play in the African context.

If I find time I will write more about it but I fully recommend it.
Oscar Allen
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good book. Tries to cover too much geography and history. Has a definite anti-UN, anti-humanitarian bias. But some brilliant descriptions of geography and personal vignettes.
Brenda Schneider
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A very good, compelling and interesting read. I won this book through goodreads.
Barb Moore
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent companion to Why Nations Fail by Acemoglu and Robinson. Hang in there for the first anguishing, depressing, horrifying (but edifying) first 3/4 of the book for some good news at the end.
Bret Jarvis
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Compelling and well written. I learned so much from this book. Won courtesy of Goodreads Giveaway.
Sarah-Jean Krahn
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
To be honest, I only got halfway through this book (200 pages of about 400) even while renewing it the maximum number of times and returning it late! I may return to it sometime because I know I'm missing out on some vivid descriptions of the cultural landscape in several sub-Saharan nations. One chapter does this especially impactfully by contrasting the state of Rwanda with that of Congo. While Rwanda has flourished in its recovery from the incomprehensible genocide, neighbouring Congo struggl ...more
Nancy Jurss
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alex Perry lives in Capetown and has traveled extensively throughout Africa talking to the people who live there. He talks about the inadequacy of Western government aid, the UN, and various non-profits in how they have handled famines and other situations, labeling it a different form of white colonialism. He pulls no punches on the effects on the average African of the bad leadership in many countries, Islamic extremism that has been a counterpoint to some of them, and various tribal conflicts ...more
Jake Dennie
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's admittedly ironic that Perry is writing one book about all of Africa, when the main theme is that Westerners frequently misunderstand Africa, usually because of lack of nuance. However, his strategy to let simple stories and interviews be the bulk of the book, rather than constantly making sweeping generalizations, makes it pretty credible in my mind. Tough to get through the whole tome, but rather than trying to paint a picture about all of Africa Perry provides a solid, nuanced understand ...more
Valerie Ziegler
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A captivating effort at tackling historical and modern events, stories, and themes from the most diverse continent in the world.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book is an account of observations and shallow comments without offering an answer to the question why is there so much misery in Africa.
Lucía BG
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: áfrica, no-ficción
I am always in favour of reading journalist's books and this case has not been an exception. Context, personal views (but not to much self references) make out of this book a good general introduction to the region. What I would value the most, though, it the sceptical analysis on cooperation and NGO's, based on data and not very usual in literature.
Nice easy read of the state of Africa today. Essentially a story of why foreign aid is bad, and Africans are people able to progress on their own. Bit of history thrown in.
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With the end of slavery in the nineteenth century, foreigners and African leaders stopped physically selling Africans – but they have continued to sell them out.

This book covers quite a lot of scope for its size. Great thinking points, some to make you boil over with rage and others to prompt discussion.
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Alex Perry is a correspondent and author. He is the author of The Good Mothers, The Rift, Falling Off The Edge, and Lifeblood, as well as several ebooks. His journalism has appeared in The New Yorker, The Guardian, TIME, Newsweek, Roads and Kingdoms and others. Born in Philadelphia and raised in England, Perry lived and worked for 15 years in Asia and Africa. He now lives in Hampshire, England.
“This is the white man’s burden, the noblesse oblige of the missionary, colonist and development professional, who feel a duty to shepherd those unfortunate enough to be trapped in unenlightenment.” 1 likes
“When humanitarians in Africa used the word ‘change’, I’d noticed, they’d mostly been talking about themselves.” 0 likes
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