In this compilation of stories from the civil war-ravaged West African country of Sierra Leone, Bergner (God of the Rodeo) demonstrates a deft dramatic touch. He all too vividly recreates the violent rebel advance on the capital, Freetown, as seen through the eyes of Lamin Jusu Jarka, whose hands were chopped off against the root of a mango tree. It is hard to believe, after reading about the "twenty seconds of localized apocalypse" that a South African mercenary helicopter pilot unleashed on rebel trucks, that Bergner was not himself hovering above the scene. The tragedy is precisely described, but Bergner struggles to discover the motivations of his subjects. Why the Kortenhovens, a white missionary family from Michigan, stay in Sierra Leone for two decades and why Michael Josiah, a government soldier and able student of Western medicine, still believes in healing of the local juju men, are questions that, after intense speculation, remain enigmas. Bergner's biggest struggle, though, is with himself. He often seems to be searching the war-torn country for evidence of his own personal responsibility. When talking to natives who wished for British recolonization, he "all but appealed for racial resentment or historical embitterment." With so many exotic and compelling stories in Sierra Leone to be told, the reader is left wondering why the author has spent so much time telling his own. Despite his thorough research and narrative flair, Bergner falls into the journalistic travelogue's trap-his commentary tells the reader more about the journalist than about the place visited.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The black and the white of Bergner's title are, on the one hand, the victims of the seemingly endless civil war in Sierra Leone and, on the other, the missionaries, aid workers, and British soldiers who arrive to restore hope. Bergner follows such bleak narratives as that of Lamin, a husband and father whose hands were chopped off by the rebels, and Komba, a child soldier who calmly describes eating a victim's heart. While an eloquent witness, Bergner has little to offer in the way of sophisticated political explanation. He does, however, have a journalist's eye for the telling moment; in one scene, amputees, coming to the polls to vote, pose happily for the cameras, while a member of the CNN crew says casually that the segment probably won't air in America.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I was there and everything Dan writes is true. Reality of war is horrible and people need to see that it is not a video game. Real people are suffering and dying for nothing.Published 21 months ago by Paul K.
some good insight into the mentalities of the people of seirra leone and some interesting history. it's about a reality of today that compares to a reality of 2000 years ago in... Read morePublished on February 17, 2004 by M. lentz
The author is enthralled with his misconception that the locals view white men as dieties; he is also thrilled to ride in a heliocopter gunship next to a white racist mercenary,... Read morePublished on November 19, 2003 by Kenneth Richard
Daniel needs to work on his issues of self esteem and ditch his self delusions. As someone who had front seat as the tragic events unfolded, it's a pity that people will read this... Read morePublished on November 18, 2003