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The Africans Paperback – June 12, 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Rev Upd edition (June 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394753089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394753089
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #978,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Essential reading for an understanding of modern-day Africa" -- The New York Times Book Review

"A rare overview of the wild and frequently unreported developments on the world's second-largest continent... an intelligent and powerful argument for sanity and humanity." -- The Philadelphia Inquirer

"A primer for all of us who don't know enough about the Dark Continent...a fascinating and important book"

-- Playboy

"A thoroughly clear-sighted, honest book that provides a political and social survey of the 46 countries of sub-Sahara Africa. -- Business Week

From the Inside Flap

During the four years he spent in black Africa as the bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, David Lamb traveled through almost every country south of the Sahara, logging more than 300,000 miles. He talked to presidents and guerrilla leaders, university professors and witch doctors. He bounced from wars to coups oceans apart, catching midnight flights to little-known countries where supposedly decent people were doing unspeakable things to one another. In the tradition of John Gunther's Inside Africa, The Africans is an extraordinary combination of analysis and adventure. Part travelogue, part contemporary history, it is a portrait of a continent that sometimes seems hell-bent on destroying itself, and of people who are as courageous as they are long-suffering.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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His prose style is clear, smooth, unpretentious.
David Schweizer
Lamb's book starts with an overview of African politics circa the early 1980's and a chapter about the difference between traditional and modern Africa.
Ein Kunde
This is why this book is a classic and I still remember most of it, though I read it nearly 15 years ago!
Jacobus H. G. Strauss

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ein Kunde on September 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Journalism is sometimes called "the first draft of history", and in David Lamb's "The Africans" we see that to be true. This is a very fine introduction to and overview of Sub-Saharan Africa. Lamb mixes first-hand reporting with an effective presentation of Africa's colonial and independence-era past. The entire book is well written, packed with information, and well worth the time it takes to read its 300-some pages. The original edition was published in 1983, before the AIDS crisis and Nelson Mandela's transformation from prisoner to president, and this is one small problem: what is written in the present tense in the book is nearly as historical as what is presented as prior history; its a bit difficult to keep straight when the various notes and epilogue were written. A quick look at a few websites (like the CIA World Factbook) should provide the most recent information. This sort of thing is sure to be a problem with any book that covers recent history. Nevertheless, this book's strengths far outweigh this small weakness. This is an outstanding and very fair look at Africa's cultures, history, politics, societies, and traditions.
Lamb's book starts with an overview of African politics circa the early 1980's and a chapter about the difference between traditional and modern Africa. The next chapter covers some of Africa's "big men" bad and good: Mobutu, Bokassa, Moi, Nyerere, et al. Uganda's Idi Amin gets an entire chapter, as does the OAU. In the next chapter, African coups are discussed. Then the end of the colonial era, Portugal's African colonies, and African relations with the U.S. and U.S.S.R.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jacobus H. G. Strauss on May 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book more than a decade ago and have to agree with the good reviews this book is still getting.
I was at the time pleasantly surprised to find a foreign journalist writing such a balanced account on Africa. When I read the book (in the mid Eighties) South Africa was still very isolated from the rest of Africa. This book gave me a window on Africa north of us and fascinated me. I always judge any media (newspaper, books TV, whatever) on their coverage of that with which I am familiar. If I find that to be well balanced and true, I will trust the rest of the material covering things I might not be familiar with. This book passed with flying colours. For example it pointed out the lunacy of Apartheid, while not hiding the fact that it was the only African country with a well functioning infrastructure, civil service etc
The book is neither left nor right. It gives it as it is. Indeed a very rare talent for a journalist. Lamb for example pointed out the world's hypocrisy regarding South Africa. The country was internationally isolated because of statutory racial discrimination and a lack of democracy. Yet the ethnic cleansing going on all over Africa on a grand scale was (and still is) ignored. There was (and still is) virtually no democracy anywhere, massive corruption, very little human rights etc, etc while nobody batted an eye.
That is tragically still the case. Africa is in bigger chaos than when David Lamb wrote his book, but still nobody seems to be willing to take a tougher stand and condemn African governments for what they are - useless.
He pointed out this *real* racial discrimination. South Africa was not allowed to run an undemocratic outfit because "white people can't behave like that!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on September 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
I found "The Africans" at a local bookstore - the only book of its kind in the "African/Third World" section. As someone who has visited Africa and talked frequently with those who have I can only say "Amen" to the abominable conditions he describes.
Yet, even as he describes the tribal slaughters, the tortures, the theft of entire nations, insane human engineering schemes that moved millions around like chess pieces - he remains not only concerned but profoundly sympathetic. He tries to make us understand how leader after leader chose the pathway of dictatorship and bankrupt economies while preaching freedom and self-determination. The chapter on the OAS is a much-needed humorous interlude. He keeps reminding us that the story of post-colonial Africa is NOT just politicis and raving madmen in control of millions of people. He keeps the story on the people of the continent.
The book is dated but the observations are truer now than then. Since then apartheid was abolished but a million people have been slaughtered in Rwanda, 2 million have died in the interminable "Congo" war, hundreds of thousands have been killed in Sudan, Angola and Liberia and whole nations exists in name only. What the author stresses over and over is the potential for greatness on the continent, the mineral wealth, the food potential, the resourcefulness of the people, the determination of ordinary people to thrive in such conditions.
Today this is a politically incorrect book in that he casts a wide net of blame - colonial powers, Americans, Soviets, Chinese and, in the end, Africans themselves.
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