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Anthills of the Savannah Paperback – Import, 1988

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Paperback, Import, 1988

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Product Details

  • Series: Picador Books
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First edition & printing in this form edition (1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330300954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330300957
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,538,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Wooden characters and a very preachy plot that jerks around, never running smoothly or deep.
Bob Newman
Achebe does a good job of describing what it is like to be a reform-minded, idealistic politician in contemporary Africa.
Brandon Wilkening
Just be prepared to maybe feel a little disoriented, but keep reading; you'll be rewarded in the end!
Debbie the Book Devourer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Bill Jackson on July 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
This splendid short novel demonstrates Achebe's continuing ability to depict the challenges posed to African societies by modernism and Western influence. It details the plight of three educated, upper-class Africans attempting to survive in an atmosphere of political oppression and cultural confusion. Set in the fictional African country of Kangan, it is clearly patterned after Achebe's native Nigeria, though one can also see elements of Liberia and Ghana.
This was the first Achebe novel I had read since his classic Things Fall Apart. At first, I thought that Anthills suffered in comparison with that masterpiece, arguably the best known and most influential African novel. After finishing the book, though, I realized that Achebe had very deftly returned to and updated the themes raised in that book.
His protagonists are Ikem, a courageous and opinionated newspaper editor; Chris, his friend and predecessor as editor, now the somewhat-reluctant Commissioner of Information in a military-led government; and Beatrice, a brilliant, beautiful mid-level civil servant, also Chris's lover. Each studied abroad and is comfortable tossing off literary references and cultural cues from the West. At the same time, each is proud of and clearly shaped by his/her African heritage.
Kangan is ruled by a smart but narrow-minded military officer who rose to power following a coup. "His Excellency" is also coincidentally and not at all implausibly an acquaintance of all three main characters, bringing a very personal dynamic to the struggles they face as Ikem sharpens his already bitter criticism of the government, to the professional discomfort of Chris and the personal alarm of Beatrice.
I found the first half of the book a little hard to get through at times.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on October 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Achebe wrote three classic books in the 1950's and then after a long hiatus returned to the novel with the publication of Anthills in 89. The earlier books dealt with the effect of modern civilization on traditional African life. This book uses one nation as an example of what is happening with many nations as they struggle to find their own version of modern life without altogether letting go of tradition. The characters are all educated, many in the west, but strictly western modes of rule do not work in third world conditions quite as smoothly as they do in industrial conditons. Big changes are needed and a big leader is needed to effect those changes quickly and successfully but that age old maxim applies here as elsewhere: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A great book showing how good intentions can quickly go wrong. Achebe tells the story through the personalities playing a part in it and so you never feel he is making abstract points. He shows the human side of these dramas we so often see played out on the 6'o clock news. A touching and tragic book. Achebe is a fascinating person to see interviewed as well, perhaps the most articulate and insightful spokesman on modern Africa as it searches to find its shape.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Chinua Achebe has produced a masterpiece in "Anthills of the Savannah". Set in fictional Kangan, Achebe spins a highly intriguing tale of three men who grew up in school together but find themselves increasingly alienated from one another professionally when one of them (not the smartest but the smoothest) declares himself President in the aftermath of the overthrow of the civilian Kangan government. Conflict of conscience issues generated by moves by the would-be dictator to consolidate his power over his people threaten to destroy their friendship and loyalty. It is no longer the white man who is responsible for the grinding poverty of the masses but the revolutionary fighters whose corruption and lust for power undermines their cause. Achebe is also brilliant in his characterisation. Ikem and Chris are vividly drawn and full bodied personalities, as are Beatrice and Elewe. Even minor characters like Professor Okong who appears only in the novel remain sharply etched in one's mind long after they have disappeared from the scene. "Anthills of the Savannah" remind me a little of V S Naipaul's "Guerillas" but it is by far a superior work. A thrilling and highly engaging piece of work by a literary giant.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brandon Wilkening on December 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
The story in this book is set in the fictional modern-day African country of Kanga. The action revolves around three central characters. Chris holds the position of "Commissar of Information" in the president's cabinet; he basically has the final say in what gets printed in the country's newspapers and broadcast on the airways. Ikem is the editor of the country's leading newspaper. He and Chris are friends have been friends since school. Finally, Beatrice is a mutual relation of both of these men. She and Chris are romantically involved, while she and Ikem have a close but strictly platonic relationship.

The story revolves around how these three and their relationships are affected by the creeping authoritarianism that has been taking place in Kanga. We learn that both Chris and Ikem are boyhood friends of the president, whom his obsequious ministers address as "His Excellency." His Excellency took power in a military coup that was intended to quash instability and then restore democracy, but as in most real-life African military governments, it stayed on after this original mandate had expired and turned into a full-fledged dictatorship. His Excellency is the archetypical African ruler. Trained in a European military school, he quickly rose up through the ranks because of his loyalty to his superiors, and when he seemingly accidentally gets installed as the new ruler, expects similar obedience from his aides. Like all authoritarian rulers His Excellency feeds off playing his subjects against each other. Eager to curry his favor, His Excellency's ministers spread rumors about each other and attempt to sow discord.

In such a cynical, amoral, power-driven world, Chris and Ikem are clearly sympathetic characters.
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