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Killing the Wizards: Wars of Power and Freedom from Zaire to South Africa Hardcover – April 15, 1992

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (April 15, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671696297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671696290
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,335,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Africa as a continent caught between hope and disaster bursts forth in the pages of Cowell's trenchant firsthand report. He covered southern Africa for Reuters and the New York Times from 1976 to 1987 and made a follow-up visit in 1990. From Zaire and Zimbabwe through Angola and Mozambique to Namibia, he found that insurgent groups--surrogates of Soviet and Chinese sponsors--blamed the West for offering them no choice. Under the banner of freedom and justice, liberation movements overlaid with socialist ideology often replaced white dictatorial elites with their own corrupt, authoritarian rule. In South Africa's struggle between Afrikaners and native blacks, Cowell detects hidden agendas on both sides: survival of an elite and acquisition of power, respectively. His top-notch, compelling reporter's notebook reveals a crazy quilt of durable dictators, small, dirty wars, Western imperialist intervention and violence born of revolutioanry impulses but ending as the very currency of political debate among Africans themselves.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

For ten years, New York Times correspondent Cowell reported from Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, and this book's first half jerks the reader around as abruptly as he was transferred from country to country. The unifying threads of this half seem to be that greed and intertribal and interorganizational warfare ruined the stability of several of the countries; South Africa "secretly" attacked these nations; and South Africa further undermined them economically by supporting one tribe or organization against others. In the second half, Cowell shifts his focus to South Africa. While more coherent than the first half, this section is still episodic and anecdotal, rather than historical in nature. Cowell is clearly a knowledgeable person, but his book is too difficult to follow for casual reading and not organized enough to be useful as a history of any of the countries he mentions. A chronological history of South Africa with its activities in the region explained in that context, and a map of the region would have made this book easier to read and more useful too. For larger African studies collections.
- Anita L. Cole, Miami-Dade P.L. System, Fla.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Alan S. Cowell is a journalist. Since 2008 he has been Senior Correspondent for NYTimes.com based in Paris. Cowell began his journalism career as a reporter for British newspapers and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. He joined Reuters in 1972 and The New York Times in 1981. His reporting has covered Turkey, the Middle East, Africa, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

In 1985, Cowell won the George Polk Award and was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for foreign reporting. He is the author of Killing the Wizards -- Wars of Power and Freedom from Zaire to South Africa; A Walking Guide: A Novel; The Terminal Spy: The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko; and The Paris Correspondent: A Novel.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By OMGCat! on August 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been fascinated by African colonialism lately for some reason and have been reading up everything I can find. This book is really good in that although written from the perspective of a white guy from England, he gives a pretty good perspective on many of the problems from both sides. It must be fair as I gave it to a friend from South Africa to read and he got annoyed at several of it's points!
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Format: Hardcover
I can't really blame the author for this book's failings. He was a journalist and he wrote a book from a journalist's superficial, day-to-day perspective, and he could hardly have done anything else. He clearly has a solid understanding of the major players involved in the dizzying array of colonial and post-colonial conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, enough to write good-sounding copy about the latest massacre in the bush at least, but when confronted with the problem of writing a book, a big, long book about them, he falters. This is very long on anecdotes (most of them well-written, some breathtaking so) and short on substantial analysis and structure. It's not a good introduction to the subject and if you don't have your facts straight and arranged logically before hand this book could probably give you the wrong idea about some things, but for those already deeply interested in the independence movements, wars, politics and chaos of the era and well-versed in their histories, this book can be a fun, even worthwhile read.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I finished that Book 2 weeks ago, and it's still on my mind. It's right that what you have to expect of a New York Times correspondant!
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