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Kenya: Between Hope and Despair, 1963-2011 Hardcover – November 15, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[An] engaging and important book.”—Philip Murphy, International Affairs (Philip Murphy International Affairs 2012-01-01)

“…..there had been a glaring shortage of really good general works on its post-independence history. [Kenya] not only plugs that hole, but has much to say too about the possible futures of many other poor post-colonial states.”—Stephen Howe, The Independent
(Stephen Howe The Independent 2011-11-25)

“Branch has produced a largely narrative account, accessible to the general, non-specialist reader, and an excellent primer for students on African Studies courses interested in Kenya.”—Warris Vianni, Awaaz Magazine.com
(Warris Vianni Awaaz Magazine.com 2012-02-04)

“…The greatest strength of the book is its scope. Branch masterfully pulls together five decades of often baffling complexity doublespeak and cover-ups, into an insightful and highly readable story. Kenyan historiography has been begging for such a book.”

 “…This book’s achievements deserve to be celebrated: combining scholarly rigour with accessibility, it stands as the best account of post-colonial Kenyan politics.”—Edward Goodman, The English Historical Review
(Edward Goodman The English Historical Review 2013-08-01) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

In this illuminating account of Kenya's first fifty years of independence, an authority on African history analyzes how ethnic violence, government corruption, inequality, and other difficult issues hinder national prosperity and justice.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st edition (November 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300148763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300148763
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #954,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Gibbs on December 29, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kenyans experienced independence in 1963, but not all enjoyed the rights and benefits of citizenship; they have witnessed economic growth, but have not necessarily been able to find work; they have participated in development projects that have not necessarily delivered improved standards of living; and they have voted in elections without experiencing democracy, according to Daniel Branch in this book.

The book explores Kenyan politics from the time of the first president Kenyatta, through the time of the second president Moi, up to the present time of the third president Kibaki. In the early days the struggle was between the political elite and those like Oginga Odinga who wanted to redistribute the wealth. After a while the struggle was simply between different factions in the political elite who wanted to seize power and feather their own nests.

Remarkably, the author does not hesitate to detail instances of corruption and criminal conduct and name names, given the propensity of the Kenyan elite to sue for defamation. Former National Security Minister Chris Murungaru is currently suing KTN for defamation over the allegation that he was a drug kingpin. Former Minister of Trade and Industry Nicholas Biwott was awarded $750,000 for defamation over the allegation that he murdered Robert Ouko. President Kibaki has publicly threatened defamation proceedings against anyone who claims he is a polygamist. All of these allegations and many more appear in the book. Perhaps the author has greater confidence in the independence of the current judiciary.

Although the book's title suggests that Kenya fluctuates between hope and despair, the abiding impression gained by the reader is more on the side of despair.
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Format: Hardcover
I lived in Kenya 1984-86 and so this book brought back many memories, both of leaders, the forgotten of a previous generation of leaders and western scholars as well. During the time I was there we all knew the country was not a democracy, all knew we needed to be very careful about what we said. Thanks to this book, I know now the truth was even worse than we feared.

We had it pointed out to us where the screams of those tortured could be heard, we heard stories about how they did the torture. Branch fills out the context. One of my colleagues at the University was carted off by the secret police for writing pamphlets, thanks to Branch I know he served 4 years and survived it.

The subtitle seems accurate: we always saw Kenya as a glass simultaneous being filled up and draining out: a place that should prosper but wasn't. This is a political history, that is his goal. In recounting politics he has to spend more time on despair than hope. The hope us expatriates had, those of us who had fallen in love with Kenya, was based not on the "wabenzi" tribe of the elite but on the "wananchi" rank and file who were cheerful, welcoming and taught us all so many things in a country breathtakingly beautiful.

I fear that a history of Kenya written 20 years from now will have the same plot. But it shouldn't.
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Format: Kindle Edition
As a frequent traveler to East Africa, with over 40 trips to Kenya in the last 17 years, I can say that I have seen some of this story first hand, up close and personal through the eyes of participants. Kenya is between hope and despair. If you want to know more - read the book. It is both sad and hopeful too.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
.. of what ails Kenya - lessons from the past and those of today. A study for all Kenyans ... and Africa as a whole
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Format: Hardcover
`Kenya: Between Hope and Despair, 1963-2011' is a 300-page romp through 48 years of Kenya's post-independence history. As a book it is not without merit: the story moves along at pace and the historical meal Daniel Branch serves up is easily digestible. In these respects it is a popular history for the general reader, or someone new to the subject of Kenyan history. Unfortunately, however, for those with a knowledge of the country's history, Branch's multiple errors and unjustified assumptions will prove a problem.

Take for example the book's section on the murder of Kenya's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Robert Ouko, in February in February 1991 (`Who Killed Bob', pages 190 - 193).

Branch writes: `To maintain cohesion of the ruling elite, the government nevertheless turned to another well-rehearsed method of asserting its authority', i.e., had Ouko murdered. There is little or no evidence for this assumption and virtually all of the evidence that has come to light since about 1991 suggest that it is wrong.

A couple of lines later and Branch states; `On 15 February 1990, the partially burnt body of the foreign minister, Robert Oukjo, was found, close to his home near Kisumu'. In fact, Ouko's body was first found on 13 February that year by a local herdsboy (who did not report it to the authorities) and officially found following a police search on the morning of 16 February.

Branch goes on to state that Ouko's relationship with some of his cabinet colleagues in the months prior to his death had `soured' in the months leading up to his death. There is little or no evidence for this statement (and much that contradicts it) and Branch does not provide evidence in its support.
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