Africa

Ever since Nelson Mandela dramatically walked out of prison in 1990 after twenty-seven years behind bars, South Africa has been undergoing a radical transformation. In one of the most miraculous events of the century, the oppressive system of apartheid was dismantled. Repressive laws mandating separation of the races were thrown out. The country, which had been carved into a crazy quilt that reserved the most prosperous areas for whites and the most desolate and backward for blacks, was reunited. The dreaded and dangerous security force, which for years had systematically tortured, spied upon, and harassed people of color and their white supporters, was dismantled. But how could this country--one of spectacular beauty and promise--come to terms with its ugly past? How could its people, whom the oppressive white government had pitted against one another, live side by side as friends and neighbors?

To begin the healing process, Nelson Mandela created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by the renowned cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Established in 1995, the commission faced the awesome task of hearing the testimony of the victims of apartheid as well as the oppressors. Amnesty was granted to those who offered a full confession of any crimes associated with apartheid. Since the commission began its work, it has been the central player in a drama that has riveted the country. In this book, Antjie Krog, a South African journalist and poet who has covered the work of the commission, recounts the drama, the horrors, the wrenching personal stories of the victims and their families. Through the testimonies of victims of abuse and violence, from the appearance of Winnie Mandela to former South African president P. W. Botha's extraordinary courthouse press conference, this award-winning poet leads us on an amazing journey.

Country of My Skull captures the complexity of the Truth Commission's work. The narrative is often traumatic, vivid, and provocative. Krog's powerful prose lures the reader actively and inventively through a mosaic of insights, impressions, and secret themes. This compelling tale is Antjie Krog's profound literary account of the mending of a country that was in colossal need of change.
What really happened to Dr. David Livingstone? The New York Times bestselling coauthor of Survivor: The Ultimate Game investigates in this thrilling account.

With the utterance of a single line—“Doctor Livingstone, I presume?”—a remote meeting in the heart of Africa was transformed into one of the most famous encounters in exploration history. But the true story behind Dr. David Livingstone and journalist Henry Morton Stanley is one that has escaped telling. Into Africa is an extraordinarily researched account of a thrilling adventure—defined by alarming foolishness, intense courage, and raw human achievement.

In the mid-1860s, exploration had reached a plateau. The seas and continents had been mapped, the globe circumnavigated. Yet one vexing puzzle remained unsolved: what was the source of the mighty Nile river? Aiming to settle the mystery once and for all, Great Britain called upon its legendary explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, who had spent years in Africa as a missionary. In March 1866, Livingstone steered a massive expedition into the heart of Africa. In his path lay nearly impenetrable, uncharted terrain, hostile cannibals, and deadly predators. Within weeks, the explorer had vanished without a trace. Years passed with no word.

While debate raged in England over whether Livingstone could be found—or rescued—from a place as daunting as Africa, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the brash American newspaper tycoon, hatched a plan to capitalize on the world’s fascination with the missing legend. He would send a young journalist, Henry Morton Stanley, into Africa to search for Livingstone. A drifter with great ambition, but little success to show for it, Stanley undertook his assignment with gusto, filing reports that would one day captivate readers and dominate the front page of the New York Herald.

Tracing the amazing journeys of Livingstone and Stanley in alternating chapters, author Martin Dugard captures with breathtaking immediacy the perils and challenges these men faced. Woven into the narrative, Dugard tells an equally compelling story of the remarkable transformation that occurred over the course of nine years, as Stanley rose in power and prominence and Livingstone found himself alone and in mortal danger. The first book to draw on modern research and to explore the combination of adventure, politics, and larger-than-life personalities involved, Into Africa is a riveting read.
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families is the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

An unforgettable firsthand account of a people's response to genocide and what it tells us about humanity.

This remarkable debut book from Philip Gourevitch chronicles what has happened in Rwanda and neighboring states since 1994, when the Rwandan government called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. Though the killing was low-tech--largely by machete--it was carried out at shocking speed: some 800,000 people were exterminated in a hundred days. A Tutsi pastor, in a letter to his church president, a Hutu, used the chilling phrase that gives Gourevitch his title.

With keen dramatic intensity, Gourevitch frames the genesis and horror of Rwanda's "genocidal logic" in the anguish of its aftermath: the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge and the quest for justice, the impossibly crowded prisons and refugee camps. Through intimate portraits of Rwandans in all walks of life, he focuses on the psychological and political challenges of survival and on how the new leaders of postcolonial Africa went to war in the Congo when resurgent genocidal forces threatened to overrun central Africa.

Can a country composed largely of perpetrators and victims create a cohesive national society? This moving contribution to the literature of witness tells us much about the struggle everywhere to forge sane, habitable political orders, and about the stubbornness of the human spirit in a world of extremity.
Perhaps best known as the intrepid adventurer who located the missing explorer David Livingstone in equatorial Africa in 1871, Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) played a major role in assembling the fragmented discoveries and uncertain geographical knowledge of central Africa into a coherent picture. He was the first European to explore the Congo River; assisted at the founding of the Congo Free State, and helped pave the way for the opening up of modern Africa.
In this classic account of one of his most important expeditions, the venerable Victorian recounts the incredibly difficult and perilous journey during which he explored the great lakes of Central Africa, confirming their size and position, searched for the sources of the Nile, and traced the unknown Congo River from the depths of the continent to the sea. Accompanied by three Englishmen and a crew of Africans, Stanley left Zanzibar in 1874. He traveled to Lake Victoria, which he circumnavigated in his boat, the Lady Alice. Almost immediately, illness, malnutrition and conflicts with native tribes began to decimate his followers. Nevertheless, the explorer pushed on, also circumnavigating Lake Tanganyika, which he determined to be unconnected with the Nile system. Finally in 1876, Stanley was ready to undertake "the grandest task of all" — exploring the Livingstone (Congo) River. He sailed down the vast waterway to the lake he called Stanley Pool, then on to a series of 32 cataracts he named Livingstone Falls. Unable to go further by boat, Stanley continued overland, reaching the Atlantic Ocean on August 12, 1877. Mishaps, hostile tribes, and disease had killed his three white companions and half the Africans, but Stanley had attained his objective.
His tremendous perseverance (his persistence led his men to nickname him Bula Matari — "the rock breaker") was complemented by Stanley's abilities as a keen observer and accomplished prose stylist. These talents are fully evident in this exciting narrative. It offers not only the action and adventure of a life-and-death struggle to survive in the African wilderness, but detailed descriptions of native peoples, customs, and culture; the flora and fauna of central Africa; and a wealth of geographical, ecological, and other information. Supplemented with 149 black-and-white illustrations and a foldout map, this monumental narrative will be welcomed by anyone interested in the European exploration of central Africa during the nineteenth century, the exploits of one of the great explorers of all time, and a breathtaking story of human endurance and achievement in the face of immense odds.
Chinua Achebe is Africa's most prominent writer, the author of Things Fall Apart, the best known--and best selling--novel ever to come out of Africa. His fiction and poetry burn with a passionate commitment to political justice, bringing to life not only Africa's troubled encounters with Europe but also the dark side of contemporary African political life. Now, in Home and Exile, Achebe reveals the man behind his powerful work. Here is an extended exploration of the European impact on African culture, viewed through the most vivid experience available to the author--his own life. It is an extended snapshot of a major writer's childhood, illuminating his roots as an artist. Achebe discusses his English education and the relationship between colonial writers and the European literary tradition. He argues that if colonial writers try to imitate and, indeed, go one better than the Empire, they run the danger of undervaluing their homeland and their own people. Achebe contends that to redress the inequities of global oppression, writers must focus on where they come from, insisting that their value systems are as legitimate as any other. Stories are a real source of power in the world, he concludes, and to imitate the literature of another culture is to give that power away. Home and Exile is a moving account of an exceptional life. Achebe reveals the inner workings of the human conscience through the predicament of Africa and his own intellectual life. It is a story of the triumph of mind, told in the words of one of this century's most gifted writers.
From the author of A Short History of Nearly Everything and The Body comes a travel diary documenting a visit to Kenya. All royalties and profits go to CARE International.
 
In the early fall of 2002, famed travel writer Bill Bryson journeyed to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, the charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty around the world. He arrived with a set of mental images of Africa gleaned from television broadcasts of low-budget Jungle Jim movies in his Iowa childhood and a single viewing of the film version of Out of Africa. (Also with some worries about tropical diseases, insects, and large predators.) But the vibrant reality of Kenya and its people took over the second he deplaned in Nairobi, and this diary records Bill Bryson’s impressions of his trip with his inimitable trademark style of wry observation and curious insight.
 
From the wrenching poverty of the Kibera slum in Nairobi to the meticulously manicured grounds of the Karen Blixen house and the human fossil riches of the National Museum, Bryson registers the striking contrasts of a postcolonial society in transition. He visits the astoundingly vast Great Rift Valley; undergoes the rigors of a teeth-rattling train journey to Mombasa and a hair-whitening flight through a vicious storm; and visits the refugee camps and the agricultural and economic projects where dedicated CARE professionals wage noble and dogged war against poverty, dislocation, and corruption.
 
Though brief in compass and duration, Bill Bryson’s African Diary is rich in irreverent, poignant, and morally instructive observation. Like all of this author’s work, it can make the reader laugh, think, and especially, feel all at the same time.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • More than one million copies sold! A “brilliant” (Lupita Nyong’o, Time), “poignant” (Entertainment Weekly), “soul-nourishing” (USA Today) memoir about coming of age during the twilight of apartheid
 
“Noah’s childhood stories are told with all the hilarity and intellect that characterizes his comedy, while illuminating a dark and brutal period in South Africa’s history that must never be forgotten.”—Esquire
 
Winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor and an NAACP Image Award • Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Time, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Esquire, Newsday, and Booklist


Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.
Tahir Shah’s The Caliph’s House, describing his first year in Casablanca, was hailed by critics and compared to such travel classics as A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun. Now Shah takes us deeper into the heart of this exotic and magical land to uncover mysteries that have been hidden from Western eyes for centuries.…

In this entertaining and penetrating book, Tahir sets out on a bold new journey across Morocco that becomes an adventure worthy of the mythical Arabian Nights.

As he wends his way through the labyrinthine medinas of Fez and Marrakesh, traverses the Sahara sands, and tastes the hospitality of ordinary Moroccans, Tahir collects a dazzling treasury of traditional stories, gleaned from the heritage of A Thousand and One Nights. The tales, recounted by a vivid cast of characters, reveal fragments of wisdom and an oriental way of thinking that is both enthralling and fresh. A link in the chain of scholars and teachers who have passed these stories down for centuries like a baton in a relay race, Shah reaches layers of culture that most visitors hardly realize exist, and eventually discovers the story living in his own heart.

Along the way he describes the colors, characters, and the passion of Morocco, and comes to understand why it is such an enchanting land. From master masons who labor only at night to Sufi wise men who write for soap operas, and Tuareg guides afflicted by reality TV, In Arabian Nights takes us on an unforgettable journey, shining a light on facets of a society that are normally left in darkness.
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