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In the Shadow of a Saint: A Son's Journey to Understand His Father's Legacy Hardcover – July 24, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Steerforth; First U. S. Edition edition (July 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586420259
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586420253
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,512,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The daunting emotional challenge of living up to an almost mythically famous parent is the subject of Wiwa's brutally candid memoir, which explores his psychological tug-of-war with his father, Nigerian writer and human rights activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa. Asking "My father. Where does he end and where do I begin?" Wiwa recalls his troubled childhood growing up in the shadow of a world-renowned man who simultaneously took on a powerful military regime and the mighty Shell Oil conglomerate, only to be executed by the Nigerian dictatorship in November 1995. Writing this book, according to Wiwa, who is now a journalist in Canada, was an attempt to understand the complex bond between his father and himself, a relationship so difficult at times that it compelled him to legally change his name. Resentful at his father's mood swings, absences and infidelities, he was angry at being pressured to continue the older Wiwa's work and legacy until he fully reassessed the man's untiring fight against tyranny. Wiwa's impassioned and detailed memoir provides a superb overview of the Nigerian political landscape, as well as an excellent behind-the-scenes look at his father. In addition to his own story, the concluding segments about other children of prominent human rights heroes Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and Bogoyoke Aung San are revealing and informative. Agents, Bruce Westwood, Westwood Creative Artists, and Derek Johns, AP Watt. (Sept. 1) Forecast: This book is almost certain to attract media attention, given the international celebrity of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the irresistible family angle. Its eloquence promises a wide readership among those who care about international human rights and those who love family memoirs.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Wiwa's complex memoir is both an account of the history, corruption, and politics of modern Nigeria and an inquiring biography of his father, Ken Saro-Wiwa. Saro-Wiwa was a renowned human rights activist and vibrant critic of the Nigerian military dictatorship who was instrumental in publicizing the environmental and human rights abuses of the Shell Oil Company. His 1995 execution by the Nigerian military regime made him an international martyr and a symbol for the Nigerian opposition. While detailing his childhood and his strained relationship with his controversial father, Wiwa vividly portrays the struggle between a traditional way of life in Nigeria and multinational corporate interests. He shows how, in his worldwide appeal for justice for his father, he was able to come to terms with his father's life and execution. This insightful, clearly written work is recommended for those interested in African society and politics, the dangers of environmental pollution by multinational corporations in developing countries, and human rights abuses throughout the world. Edward G. McCormack, Univ. of Southern Mississippi Lib., Gulf Coast
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful, inspiring book. It is not just a biography of internationally acclaimed activist and novelist Ken Saro-Wiwa, but also an account of a son who manages to find himself despite the notoriety of his famous father. Ken Wiwa traces the history he has shared with his father, and examines his changes in perspective through his childhood, adolescent and adult years. He recounts his father's successful life, from government worker to TV writer, novelist, and finally, to political activist. He tells of his father's efforts to improve the lives of the impoverished Ogoni people, which included a heroic struggle against a multinational oil company. With brevity, and brutal honesty, Ken Wiwa leaves no stone unturned in examining his own thoughts and emotions in relation to these events.
It would have been easy for Ken Wiwa to wax poetically about his father's heroism in the face of such a powerful opponent, and to fill all the pages of a book on this subject alone. He could have possibly sold many more books this way. But he purposely chose not to, and instead invites his readers on a rich, multi-faceted exploration of his father's life, his family and of his own growing self-awareness.
In the end, we, the readers, are just as proud of Ken Saro-Wiwa as his son is. But it is the journey that we took to get there that makes it all the more moving.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ademola Soremekun on January 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I was in bed on the morning of the 10th of November 1995 when the death of ken Saro Wiwa was announced over the radio. As it is in Nigeria there is always the official and unofficial news so speculations the previous night dismissed as rumours...even though i was almost twenty at this time, it dawned on me that i knew next to nothing about Mr Saro-Wiwa..and folks made up to many stories that usually left you confused but Ken Wiwa has done an excellent job. He initial presents hiself has a spoilt kid who saw more meaning to life in the west than in Africa his home (Or so i understood it) but as he grows, he matures to the point where he does not only understand his father and what he stands for but learns to forgive and even sympathise with his many dilemas in his struglle to liberate the lifes and minds of his people. The most refreshing thing about the story is that Wiwa Snr and Jnr reach a compromise in what seemed like a stumbling relationship (as it is with many first sons who are similar to thier fathers) and reconcile before Saro-Wiwa dies. I gues like Wiwa snr said "it's a shame we cant choose our parents" but having ready a story like this one I'm quite glad it so too.
Bro Ken i agree with your Dad you do have a good style keep the books coming.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
While some may not enjoy nonfiction, I thought this was a very good read. Though I lacked knowledge on Wiwa Sr and the struggle, the author (his son) did a good job to present clarity to the issues at hand. However what's makes the book a good read is that the story is presented through the eyes of a son who felt he had to measure to the great expectations of his father. While the author's writing style is ok, the honesty of his writing makes it worthwhile. I thought it was interesting to see how the author found the conflict of politics when faced with an issue so personal(his father's execution). I heard about the book through an interview on NPR. We Americans, are very ignorant on issues that have happened in Africa. Not only will you enjoy reading it, but you will also learn from it. But you will also perhaps identify with issues involving children and parents as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By m_noland on November 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A moving and evocative memoir of Ken Wiwa's difficult coming of age, caught between two cultures and the collision with history of his domineering father, Nigerian playwright and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. In effect the story is told in two parts - the author's life up to his father's hanging on trumped up charges in 1995, and his subsequent attempt to come to terms with his fathers ambiguous personal legacy, in part from seeking out the children of other political martyrs such as Nkosinathi Biko and Aung San Suu Kyi. One gets the sense that by the end of the book Wiwa has achieved some sort of closure and establishment of stable, constructive self-identity. Recommended to anyone interested in Nigeria, international diplomacy, or the relationship between fathers and sons.
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