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Anthills of the Savannah Paperback – February 4, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books; 1st edition (February 4, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385260458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385260459
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"This bitterly ironic novel by the Nigerian author of Things Fall Apart is at times more of a polemic than dramatic narrative, but it presents a candid, trenchantly insightful view of contemporary Africa," wrote PW of the portrait of a West African military coup leader, and his moral deterioration.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Achebe has written a story that sidesteps both ideologies of the African experience and political agendas, in order to lead us to a deeply human universal wisdom." -- Washington Post Book World.

"[Anthills Of The Savannah] has wonderful satiric moments and resounds with big African laughter." -- The New York Review Of Books.

"Achebe moves effortlessly... creating a flurry of perspectives from which his story's dramatic and disturbing events are scrutinized. Anthills Of The Savannah... will prove hard to forget. It's a vision of social change that strikes us with the force of prophecy" -- USA Today.

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Customer Reviews

As usual Achebe brings his characters to life in an amazing way.
Olumide Ogunremi
Just be prepared to maybe feel a little disoriented, but keep reading; you'll be rewarded in the end!
Debbie the Book Devourer
Wooden characters and a very preachy plot that jerks around, never running smoothly or deep.
Robert S. Newman

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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15 of 16 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Debbie the Book Devourer on May 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Our library book club read this book last month,and I'm grateful, for it's not a book I'd likely have picked up on my own. It's a story about a group of friends from a fictional African country who attended an elite school in England and then later found themselves all with roles in the country's postcolonial government, with one friend becoming a reporter. The tale seems to have many layers: exploring the effects of their education abroad on the way they view their country; the corrupting properties of power; losing and regaining connections to their homeland; shifting dynamics of friendships in the face of power; and much more.

I was able to appreciate the poetic writing style, the shifting point of view, the nonlinear narrative (without telling us we're flashing back or forward), the references to folk stories, the proverbs that were unfamiliar to me, and the use of pidgin English in some of the dialog. I enjoyed being exposed to a writing style different from what I'm accustomed to. However, this made the book very difficult for this book devourer to get through. Still, if you'd like to expand your horizons, read this book. Just be prepared to maybe feel a little disoriented, but keep reading; you'll be rewarded in the end!
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