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Getting Somalia Wrong?: Faith, War and Hope in a Shattered State (African Arguments) Paperback – March 27, 2012

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The most accessible and accurate account available of the contemporary Somali world - pirates and all." - Iaon Lewis, author of Understanding Somalia and Somaliland

"For the past two decades, books on Somalia have tended to mirror some of the attitudes about the country itself. They have been either analyses by a small and highly specialised field of policy analysts and academics, or written from and for the perspective that caters to the most common cliches and impressions about this most failed of failed states; a nation of warlords, pirates, jihadists and refugees fleeing in unseaworthy boats often only to drown. All of these are of course part of the narrative of Somalia's inability to break from its repeated cycles of the failure of domestic politics and outside intervention over the past 25 years, but what Mary Harper has done is to explain this narrative as a whole - rather than a series of snapshots. This is a book which is clear, accessible and thorough. It has done what books on Somalia rarely do, which is to examine the multitude of failures, misunderstandings, and wilful acts of destruction that have caused Somalia's downfall, but it has also gone much further, by outlining the huge part of the hidden Somalia that have survived the decades of turmoil and which are the only foundations upon which anything approaching a post conflict and stable Somalia can be built. There are significant parts of Somalia where civil society is functioning with fragile but functioning institutions of business and commerce, security and representation. She has written and explained this detailed yet vital aspect of the Somali crisis in a way that is accessible and enlightening not just to the international reader but also to those shaping global policy on Somalia. This is an important book for both." - Rageh Omaar, host of The Rageh Omaar Report and author of Only Half of Me

About the Author

Mary Harper is a BBC journalist specializing in Africa. She has reported from Somalia since the outbreak of civil war in 1991 and from other war zones across Africa, including Sudan, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. She has written for several publications including The Economist and The Washington Post.
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Product Details

  • Series: African Arguments
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Zed Books (February 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842779338
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842779330
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #819,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Mary Harper shows readers the real Somalia that has survived years of turmoil and war. She is an empathetic, informed and perceptive author. The book shows how good journalism really makes a difference to how we perceive situations and countries, particularly apt with Somalia and the press it has been receiving over the last year. Harper shows how the portrayal of a country can differ from the people within it and that impartial journalism can lead a new kind of understanding.
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Format: Paperback
Mary Harper shows readers the Somalia that she has seen through her years reporting from the country. As a result it is a Somalia that varies widely from what you see in the press. She shows how Somalia is only a failed state in the eyes of the Western press, but that actually human ingenuity means that people will find ways to survive and flourish. Harper shows that it is the international world that has to get it right and until they do they the country will continue to be misunderstood.
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Having worked in Africa for over half my adult life--most recently, five years in Nairobi--where we perceived neighboring Somalia to the north as a two dimensional failed state of armed nomads, cruel Sharia law, opportunistic piracy and tribal danger, I find Mary Harper's book informative, challenging, and quite readable, which is a real forte considering the vast complexity of the clans and the history. The themes are straightforward: that Somilia has been misunderstood and mismanaged in the arena of international politics for the last century, and that despite the popular image of Somalia as a failed state, technological, banking, and governmental solutions have arisen remarkably out of the chaos. Can Somaliland and Puntland provide an functional model for the evolution of the country as a whole, or, as we recently witnessed in the Westgate Shopping Center disaster in Nairobi, will the momentum of terrorism--domestic and exported--overwhelm the grassroots, problem solving processes that Ms. Harper identifies?
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Mary Harper is insightful. In this well crafted book, she has a sensitivity towards a country and a people that so many only know from what they see in the news.
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