Black nationalist politics, white colonial policy and U.S. clandestine pugilism provide the widely varying foci for these three important books on Angola. Marcum's superb history completes his account (begun in Vol. I: The Angolan Revolution: The Anatomy of an Explosion, published in 1969) of the Angolan nationalist struggle from its early days to independence. The book is a virtuoso performance, drawing together a mass of precisely limned detail into patterns which define the characteristics of each nationalist movement, their largely abrasive interaction, and their respective roles in the struggle against the Portuguese. Bender's book demolishes the theory of "lusotropicalism," according to which Portuguese colonialism was characterized by racial tolerance; it depicts the institutionalized relationships between black and white, including the settlement of Angola by Portuguese convicts and white disruption of black agriculture through expropriation and wartime resettlement. Stockwell's engrossing story vividly pictures insurgent leaders Roberto and Savimbi, their bases of operations and the atmosphere of wild abandon surrounding CIA operations out of steamy Kinshasa; most significant is its contention that a spoiler's role (to prevent a "cheap" Soviet victory) provided the main rationale for U.S. involvement in the Angolan civil war.
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