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A Man of the People Paperback – December 19, 1988

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'A bitter yet funny satire... probably the best book to come out of West Africa.' Anthony Burgess "The Founding Father of the African novel in English" - The Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

By the renowned author of Things Fall Apart, this novel foreshadows the Nigerian coups of 1966 and shows the color and vivacity as well as the violence and corruption of a society making its own way between the two worlds.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reissue edition (January 19, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385086164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385086165
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Elijah Chingosho on February 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
"A Man of the People" is another excellent and moving book by the world renowned Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe. His other classic books include: "Things Fall Apart" and "No Longer at Ease".

Chinua Achebe is a gifted story teller. From his writings, one can picture life in his native country and particularly of his Ibo clan. In "A Man of the People", Achebe depicts the life of a post-colonial African politician, who is part of the new elite that has replaced the former colonial masters. Just like the pigs in "Animal Farm by George Orwell", these political elite create a good life for themselves at the expense of the masses, the ordinary folk.

Achebe points out some of the cancer that has infected post colonial Africa of corruption, violence and unbridled greed, which created untold suffering and despair following the initial euphoria, high expectations and optimism that greeted independence. Achebe develops the story in a powerful, humorous, witty and masterful way that clearly shows why he is one of the greatest novelists to have graced the African continent. He is one of my favourite writers.

I recommend his collection of books to anyone who wishes to understand developments on the African continent as well as the high quality of African literature. The books ought to be mandatory reading for the English literature curriculum for schools and colleges in Africa.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jeff D on November 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
I haven't read all of Achebe's works, but so far this is the best. There are two main reasons: storytelling and insight to Nigeria, and by extension, Africa. If you're going to read one Achebe book, it should be this one (unless you're specifically interested in pre-colonial/early colonial setting which would be "Things Fall Apart").

Storytelling: Achebe's strengths are highlighted and weaknesses hidden in this tale. The plot is well-paced, taut and compelling. The style is sharp with a masterful balance of attention amongst setting, characters, and action. In short, "readability" or "page-turnability" is high. The pidgin English conversation may cause a few stumbles for the reader but overall it is more value-added than obstacle. Female characters are still rather more flat than males, which is usual for Achebe.

Insight: The beauty of the storytelling is matched by the contextual insight. In fact, this is the most important aspect of the story for me. One can look up Nigerian history and read that the First Republic lasted from 1960 to 1966, fraught with social unrest and ended by coup and Biafran Civil War in '67. Achebe fills in this time and place with living color - insight as to splits in society, individual motivations, and the legacy of colonial ideas mixing with traditional. He wrote the story real-time, that is, without big picture hindsight of the coup so as to align historical details. However, this makes his prescience all the more remarkable.

Specific observations:
- The single most profoundly insightful scene I've read by Achebe occurs with the post sex-with-Jean drive around Bori (a made-up name - all locations are thus as a means of self-preservation vs Nigerian state censorship and punishment).
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 2003
Format: Unknown Binding
This novel tells the story of a hapless schoolteacher who enters politics seeking personal revenge after his girlfriend is seduced by a sleazy politician. The book has wry humor, deftly-drawn characters, and a knowing, nuanced view of "ground reality" politics in Africa. It isn't Dostoevesky but it makes the reader laugh and think -- and it's only 149 pages!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Denis Benchimol Minev on October 6, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Achebe is a master in portraying Nigerian society in transition, amid corruption, violence and the excitement of development. In this novel, Achebe portrays a schoolteachers that is first welcomed into a politician's home, then gets angered by him when the politician "steals" his girlfriend. The novel unfolds as the schoolteacher (Odili) enters politics as a way to avenge his poor fate with his girlfriend.

As with any Achebe novel, we are introduced in a developing society, still in the excitement of self rule after the British, but struggling to get set on a path towards development. Achebe is very ironic at time, and I think this novel especially shows his wry sense of humor. For example, the Minister of Culture is a rather cultureless man, put in that position through connections and bribery.

Overall, I recommend this book if you enjoyed Achebe's previous work (Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease are my favorites). At only 150 pages, it is the shortest by him that I have read, which makes it even more worth it. Would not recommend as your first Achebe.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stanley C. Diamond on August 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a fan of Chinua Achebe ever since I read "Things Fall Apart" quite a few years ago during a trip to Africa. This book does not quite hold up to the power of that one but it is quite interesting and provides some insight into the legacy of colonial rule in Africa and the selfishness and immaturity of some of the politicians. What was called a democracy was nothing more than the trappings of a ruling elite (This book was probably a direct satire on Nigerian rule, post-colonialism.)

The story centers around a protagonist who is educated and part of the growing middle class and his original antagonism toward, eventual befriending of and later total rejection of a powerful minister in the government. The insight into the means that such people exerted in their own personal interest is well documented as through character description of the two main characters. I enjoyed the story and the point of view of the author although I had hoped for a more optimistic outcome of the narrative. Achebe is a wonderful story teller. This book was no exception.
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