When Ghanaian President John Atta Mills died suddenly in July, his vice president, Mahama, succeeded him. In this affecting and revealing memoir, Mahama crafts an evocative portrait of Ghana’s privileged classes in the 1960s and 1970s. Ghanaian readers might see this memoir by a current officeholder as a political instrument; others will mainly enjoy the well-crafted anecdotes and images of an Africa that no longer exists.
The increased Chinese attention to Africa has been one of the region’s big stories during the last decade, not least because it seemed to come just as the West was losing interest in the continent. Shinn and Eisenman’s book usefully situates this development in a broad historical context, showing important areas of continuity with earlier Sino-African links.
Among the many recent books on Sudan’s enormous and persistent potential for violent conflict, these two deserve special notice. Natsios provides a clear and dispassionate general introduction to the country’s history and politics, designed for the lay reader. LeRiche and Arnold, in the first comprehensive analysis of the world’s youngest state, explore the role that government policies played in leading to the birth of South Sudan.
In March 1896, the Ethiopian army, led by Emperor Menelik II, decisively defeated the Italian army near the town of Adwa, in northern Ethiopia, just south of today’s Eritrean border. Jonas tells the story well, aided by the presence of colorful characters, such as Menelik’s fiery wife, Empress Taytu, and the Italian officers whose bumbling ensured their own defeat.