This accessible biography of Amílcar Cabral will not satisfy readers wanting to better understand why some consider him one of the most thoughtful left-wing rebels of the twentieth century, rivaling Lenin and Mao in his analyses of state power and revolutionary struggle. Mendy often draws such grandiose comparisons but fails to substantiate them. But he does succeed in following the fascinating arc of Cabral’s life. Cabral went from an impoverished youth in the Portuguese colonies of Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau to a university scholarship in Lisbon. He had a brief but illustrious career as an agricultural engineer for the Portuguese colonial government before he became a revolutionary advocate of independence and the leader of an armed guerrilla movement in Guinea-Bissau. He was gunned down in mysterious circumstances by a disgruntled lieutenant a year before the country won its independence, in 1974. Cabral tirelessly sought international support for his movement, and Mendy ably describes the pace and spirit of the international anticolonial circuit of the 1960s and early 1970s, with Cabral jetting to endless rounds of consultations in capitals such as Havana and Bucharest and addressing the un’s Special Committee on Decolonization, all while trying to outwit Portuguese intelligence services.
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