Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir Paperback – March 8, 2011
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
DREAMS IN A TIME OF WAR is Ngugi's memoir of his childhood, until, at the age of 16, he left home to begin secondary education at a highly selective high school. His father had four wives and 24 children. During Ngugi's youth, his father and mother became estranged, and she left the homestead to live with her father, taking Ngugi and a younger brother with her. His mother clearly was an unusual woman of considerable fortitude and character. She helped fan within Ngugi a burning desire for education and then sacrificed herself in various ways to enable him to pursue that education. But their dreams of education had to be pursued during parlous times of unrest and violence, and hence the title of Ngugi's memoir.
For me, the chief value of the book is the picture it gives of native Kenyan life in a rapidly changing world - of such matters as family customs within an extended, polygamous family, traditional rites like circumcision, and communal story-telling.Read more ›
Born in 1938, Ngugi was a small child during WWII and an adolescent during the beginning of the Mau Mau uprising. He experienced these events as I experienced the Iran Hostage Crisis - through stories told by my parents and others and snipets of news sources.
Yet, through his memories, and parenthetical explanations written by the 72 year old, we receive the flavor of life in late colonial Kenya. Interestingly, he defines the end of childhood not at his circumcision ceremony or any of the Western ages of "adulthood", instead he ends his "Childhood Memoir" at the point he enters high school.
Through this work we get a child's image of the themes that will permeate Wa Thiong'o's adult writings - Christianity, Colonialism, Traditionalism and the balance between the world Britain stole and the modern world.
Wa Thiong'o is still the master storyteller we met a half a century ago in A Grain of Wheat or The River Between. This story of a child who weaves his way into the modern world kept me excited to read the next section and disappointed when my subway stop would come and make me suspend reading. 4 ½ stars!
Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir, tells the story of Thiong'o's early life, through the mid-1950s when he was admitted to high school. As with several of Thiong'o's novels, this story also takes place against the backdrop of Mau Mau. It's a fascinating account, and it balances the personal with the political. On the personal side, Thiong'o tells of growing up in a polygamous household and of his mother's efforts to get him to school. His mother and father split when he was a child, and he becomes the scribe to his maternal grandfather. He gives an account -- the first I've read -- of going through the circumcision ceremony, the rite of passage that makes him a man.
At the same time, he describes the political excitement and tension of the time. In the course of Mau Mau, his uncle goes to the mountains to fight, and Thiong'o himself is detained by colonial police on the way home from a religious meeting. The political and the personal intersect repeatedly.
With little access to newspapers - and those filtered by colonial authorities - he and his friends rely on semi-informed and highly creative informants: "Ngandi, like some of his audience, has to read between the lines of the settler-owned newspapers and government radio. But he enriches what he gleans here and there with rich creative interpretation.Read more ›
Ngugi describes what life was like for him growing up in Kenya in a polygamous family. His father had four wives and many children. Ngugi's mother was the third wife and Ngugi lived in her hut with his full siblings. The wives formed close relationships with each other as did the children. Early in life, Ngugi made a solemn promise to his mother to attend school and to his best possible if she would make the sacrifices necessary for him to go to school.
This book really presents what life was like for Ngugi through the innocence of a child's eyes. We learn about who his friends were and what he did for fun. We also discover his heartbreak and travails when his father divorced his mother and she returned to live with her father. We begin to see the unfairness of the colonial rule when Ngugi's brother returns to Kenya after fighting in Burma in World War II and these former soldiers are not given equal treatment or justly credited or rewarded for their assistance.
Dreams in a Time of War describes the beginnings of what is commonly termed the Mau Mau Rebellion through a child's eyes and the confusion of having members of his family on different sides during the rebellion.
This was an enlightening read for me and I appreciated being able to see this through the innocence of a child.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There's no better way to learn history than to see how an acutely observing human being feels it. Ngugi understands the heavy toll of colonialism, capable of dividing even... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kathy Phillips
Wonderful book to read after a mission trip to the same location.Published 1 month ago by Ethel Wright
This personal account helped me better understand the history and life of kikuyu people during British colonization. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Maggie Leigh
The author whines a good bit about colonialism while at the same time having his life saved by modern medicine and attending Western European structured and informed schools. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Peter Guertin
Ngugi grows up rural Kenya in the years 1934--1950. He lives in a
family where his mom, one of the five wives of his dad, is at some
point rejected by his dad. Read more
This is an interesting book if you want to know about Kikuyu family structure seventy years ago. Since Ngugi Wa Thiong'O was mentioned as a possible Nobel recipient, I expected... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Forbes
Many insights about Kenya as it looked for independence. An autobiography from the point of view of a young boy who will become a literary force.Published 7 months ago by Dan L Sullivan