One of my favorite passages Go to the edge of the escarpment, on the outskirts of town, and you will find yourself on the lip of an abyss You are at eye level with eagles that launch themselves like suicides into the voice, leaping into a blue haze into which mountain peaks, far off valleys and distant sea all blur at this altitude, only the most boisterous clouds succeed in rising high enough to drift over the city Pinned down by gravity, they form instead a sulky cumulus eiderdown that barely shoulders the horizon I enjoy reading books written by journalists The narrative arc tends to not be as strong as clear, but the imagery and descriptive details as above , well, they knock my socks off. I m Eritrean but raised in the UK This book taught me a lot about my history and why the state is the way it is today Particularly on the role of the British government post Italian colonisation, international relation the suspicion towards Ethiopia and international governmental organisations What I really appreciated that maybe a non Eritrean diaspora kid may have not gleaned as deeply is the insight into Eritrean culture I understand my mum s generation a lot now. Review wiil follow for this amazing book I can t remember the last time I had such mixed feelings as a book Its not that Wrong is a bad writer, or that her narrative of Eritrea seems untruthful or dishonest There s something about the inferences she draws from casual statements, and her over reliance on rumour and myth that detract greatly from her natural skills as a writer There s a little too much influence of the journalist reporting whatever she hears, and a too little of the researcher seeking to check their facts One glaring example is the title of the book supposedly said by a British officer to a ululating Eritrean woman after removing the Italians from the region during World War Two in the story, the title phrase is followed by the officer referring to the woman with a particularly offensive term In spite of the fact that it is almost certainly untrue why would the officer address someone who didn t speak English this way and how would people who didn t speak English remember and repeat the story It is treated as fact by Wrong, as are a number of other stories which are almost certainly myths or rumours Additionally, Wrong has a strong desire to infer racism, conspiracy and plot where it doesn t necessarily exist One glaring example being that after pages of decrying a particularly pedantic UN bureaucrat, Wrong reports one European as reporting that these people are holding up the UN mission on Eritrea s future Wrong infers that he meant greasy, untrustworthy Latinos, in spite of having no reason for asserting that Its much likely and believable that the individual meant the kind of pedantic bureaucrats that Wrong herself was decrying I think that what left me with a bad taste in my mouth after reading this book is the simple fact that I am tired of reading books by Westerners presenting themselves as really getting Africa by complaining about other Westerners who just don t get it Wrong is very clearly presenting herself this way, and as someone who has spent enough time in Africa to understand that I don t and never will get it , I can t help but roll my eyes at people who act as they do At the same time, she clearly has talent at weaving together an interesting narrative This is by far the best book I have ever given a two star rating. This was a lot difficult than i had anticipated and at the moment i don t feel like i ve retained much information i think i m going to need a long processing period initially i thought this book would rival King Leopold s Ghost A Story of Greed, Terror Heroism in Colonial Africa for me, but i don t think that actually bore out During my reading of Hochschild s book, i felt and comfortable with the material as the story progressed I can t say the same for this book I don t intend that as a criticism, because i don t think i m in a position, having zero background knowledge of Eritrea, to think critically about the history she details here I ll definitely be returning to this book in the future to get things sorted out, not just because the challenge of it is irresistible to me, but because there is very little else out there that attempts to explain modern Eritrean history. 2017 Reading Challenge category 48 A banned bookI ve been reading US banned books lists since I was like seven, so I picked an offbeat one this book was banned in Eritrea for criticizing the president First of all, my rating disclaimer if I d had any inkling of how much of this book would be military history, I would never have put it on my to read list I hate military history I m always hoping for cultural history when I read a book like this I wanted to learn about Eritrea, and I suppose I did, but I feel this book needed so much additional development to be effective Just some examples of many I could give why were we expected to already know based on the info presented who Haile Selassie was but not already know the Eritrean role in WWII Why did we need an entire chapter of mostly disgusting anecdotes about US military stationed in Kagnew and how did that further the book In fact, many of the anecdotes relayed left me with little to no idea what I was supposed to be taking from them, or didn t address it until way after it would have been most effective.Anyway, if you don t mind reading a lot of military history and are less discerning than me about anecdotes, this book will teach you about Eritrea. This book attempts to answer the ongoing debate about who is at fault for the social, cultural and most importantly economic suffering of Africa Michela Wrong s latest book illustrates the problems seen in Eritrea to make some kind of sense of whats going on The book essentially spends the greater part of the book pointing fingers at former Italian and British colonialists, the UN and the cold war superpowers She also mentions the failures of Haile Salisse and Mengistu did bad than good The point of the book was struck by making the basic point that all those who came into contact with Eritrea were only looking out for their own interest, which seems to be a repeating theme throughout the rest of Africa The only complaint I have with the book is that it would have been better if the author interviewed ordinary Eritreans and Ethiopians because there was not much of a voice from the civilian point of view The book is not meant to answer all the questions about Africa s fate, but rather look at it from a different perspective. Like one of the other reviewers below, I picked up this book to learn about Eritrea after starting an asylum case with an Eritrean client Unfortunately, this book isn t really about Eritrea it s about other countries actions in Eritrea Only the last two chapters are devoted to post Independence, while entire chapters are devoted to Sylvia Pankhurst along with three pictures , rowdy American behavior at Kagnew Station, Ethiopia, etc There was some generality but very little detail about the current government, or about the effects of repression on ordinary Eritreans So, it didn t exactly fit the bill of what I wanted to read.However, it is extremely well written and engaging, and I learned a lot about pockets of history that I knew very little about before And I did come away with it with a much better understanding of Eritrea than I had when I started, so I m glad I read it I will keep an eye out for Wrong s book about the Congo. Scarred By Decades Of Conflict And Occupation, The Craggy African Nation Of Eritrea Has Weathered The World S Longest Running Guerrilla War The Dogged Determination That Secured Victory Against Ethiopia, Its Giant Neighbor, Is Woven Into The National Psyche, The Product Of Cynical Foreign Interventions Fascist Italy Wanted Eritrea As The Springboard For A New, Racially Pure Roman Empire Britain Sold Off Its Industry For Scrap The United States Needed A Base For Its State Of The Art Spy Station And The Soviet Union Used It As A Pawn In A Proxy WarIn I Didn T Do It For You, Michela Wrong Reveals The Breathtaking Abuses This Tiny Nation Has Suffered And, With A Sharp Eye For Detail And A Taste For The Incongruous, Tells The Story Of Colonialism Itself And How International Power Politics Can Play Havoc With A Country S Destiny The fact that this simply is a readable history of Eritrea makes the book great, because there really are not very many books on the subject at least if you re going the search route Michela Wrong is a great journalist, and this introductory book finds a pretty solid thesis Eritrea has been repeatedly screwed by a happy and obnoxious host of different countries over the last century Another reviewer compared Eritrea to District 13 in the Hunger Games, and I can t top that analogy the author does a great job of setting down the history that makes modern day Eritrea a little understandable, if no less upsetting for much of the population as ever, insert relevant refugee stories here.
Half Italian, half British, Michela Wrong was born in 1961 She grew up in London and took a degree in Philosophy and Social Sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge and a diploma in journalism at Cardiff.She joined Reuters news agency in the early 1980s and was posted as a foreign correspondent to Italy, France and Ivory Coast She became a freelance journalist in 1994, when she moved to then Zaire a
- 480 pages
- I Didn't Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation
- Michela Wrong
- 05 March 2018 Michela Wrong