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Red Strangers (Penguin Classics) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182056
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,302,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Elspeth Huxley (1907-1997) was educated at the European school in Nairobi and at Reading University. Her books include novels, detective fiction, biography, and travel writing.

Richard Dawkins is an eminent zoologist who holds an endowed chair at Oxford University and is the author of The Selfish Gene and Unweaving the Rainbow.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Red Strangers offers an intriguing view of the colonization of East Africa. How puzzling it must have been to be "discovered" when your family has lived in the same place for generations! The unique and often humorous depiction of the white colonials is compelling. I found myself drawn into the voice and whether accurate or not, certainly offers a fresh and empathetic perspective. I read this book while on safari in Kenya and recommend it as a "must read" to any visitor to East Africa. Read it in conjunction with the classics - Out of Africa and the Flame Trees of Thika - the books fill in the blanks for one another.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By J. Blilie on April 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This wonderful novel tells the story of the arrival of European settlers from the perspective of one clan of Kikuyu in Kenya. Brilliantly written, engaging, satisfying.

The first 40% of the book details the pre-contact life of the Kikuyu in great detail. It takes them through triumphs and tragedies and shows you much of their physical, social, and spiritual life. You get to know them well as well-drawn, interesting, individual characters. This sets the stage for the arrival of the "red strangers," sunburnt whites, and their baffling new "magics," laws, food, society. I've spent time in east Africa: the book rings true.

You become completely at home [well, maybe excepting the circumcision ceremonies ...] with the Kikuyu. You do get to feel [in a way] how strange and powerful the whites seemed. Great book.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Barbara S. on October 15, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In "Red Strangers," the reader is introduced to an African Kikuyu village. The people and their life are described in detail.
In the early 20th century, Europeans started to settle in Kenya and the way of life that had served the Kikuyu for centuries was changed forever in a short time.
In this book, everything is seen through the eyes of the Africans. It gives a different view of colonization.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By nonpareil TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 5, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Although Elspeth Huxley wrote this as if it were a story, well it IS a story, its greatest value is in the description of the life of this particular Kenyan tribal group - the Kikuyu - before, during and after the arrival of Europeans. It allows us a look today at what must have been. Huxley, whose works are classics, grew up in Africa. Perhaps the eyes of this English child could reach beyond the nearly inevitable cultural taint to see in the manner of the African children she knew.

This is not a typical novel in the twenty-first century sense of plot and drama; rather it chronicles "how things were" in a somewhat rambling manner. Individuals in the book do have widely differing characteristics, apparently according to the way Huxley perceived they would have developed in their own society. I particularly noticed that Huxley presents aspects of tribal customs without comment or judgment. Some of those will likely be offensive to socially-aware modern readers. To me, the value of the way she writes is precisely that she sees the whole picture through their (tribal) eyes. I was also struck by the sense she gives of how powerless these people must have felt as Europeans simply "took over" most parts of their lives by virtue of their superior weaponry.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Baker on September 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I visited Kenya back in the early 1970's and stayed for 3 or 4 months. Among all the other places we experienced, Ngong Hills and the Kukuyu village at the base were indeed memorable! After reading Richard Dawkins recommendation and reading about his childhood at the base of Ngong Hills I felt compelled to pick up this book. I am so happy that I did. I have never read anything as honest and straightforward as these accounts as seen through the eyes of a Kukuyu family over generations. I absolutely could not put it down. I don't think you have to have experienced it first hand to appreciate the sensibility, the mindset, the innocence and common sense, the rare and precious understanding of life and all of it's hidden mysteries. This book blew me away. Finally, someone who got it and was able to put it in writing! The author rarely makes her presence felt but for the occasional flurry of poetic descriptions. Sometimes a bit noticable which I think may be more the style of the times. Very forgivable. Above all she brings the superstitions, the charm, the naivety, the brutality of nature and the high level of ethics and morality out and clearly illustrates the horrible impact of invading armies, merchants, the outright theft of natural resources brought about by European and earlier Middle Eastern cultures. At times I laughed and at other times I was shocked and near tears. All in all it is a very successful account of a time and place where few accounts exist. Among the most charming and interesting books I've ever read. It also contains the message that we can all continue to learn from as you watch a beautifully complex culture gradually slip into disillusionment and corruption as traditions are abandoned for money and a chance to survive in a new world order that has been thrust upon them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey on February 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
'Red Strangers' is a beautifully written book following the lives of four generations of an african tribal family. The rich, descriptive language portrays the traditional ways of life so perfectly that you become completely immersed in them with the characters. In fact the description is so engrossing you fully understand the alienation and confusion the tribes felt when the red strangers from europe came and turned their worlds upside down. I really felt the anguish and upset the africans felt when told to stop living the life and traditions they had lived for generations, to change them for european ideals of what was correct and proper. I also felt the disappointment and anger at the elders when they say their children embrace aspects of the european life and leave their heritage behind. This story is epic in it's scope and one you start reading you will find it very hard to put down, as you will want to find out what happens next. This is one of those rare books that will stay with you for a long time after reading and leaves you better for having read it. Highly recommended.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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