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on August 25, 2013
Although this is a book set in Africa with a clash between cultures that are specifically African, it is much more. It is a story of what happens when two opposing sides on any issue both claim moral certainty. It is a story of what happens when ideology takes precedence over both rational thought and love for one's neighbor.

Set in Kenya at a time when white missionaries have obtained a strong foothold and tradional tribal beliefs are being seen a evil, many find themselves torn between the long cherished beliefs of ancestors and the new promises of a better life after death, but with little promise of a better life while living. The main character of Waiyaki finds himself torn between the oath he took in becoming a man in the tribe and the realization of a better life that the white man's education can bring his people now. His struggle to bring these ideals together prove that "no good turn ever goes unpunished."

The role of female circumcision becomes the focus of the story but it is always in the background. This is the story of what happens when the fundamentals of a society shift. It is a story of sadness, respect, fear, and love. The author has taken an issue far removed from our culture today but has dealt with in in such a way that the reader can't help but think of some of the fundamental issues that divide our culture today and how both sides seem so sure they are right.
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on May 25, 2015
I am American but work in Livingstone Zambia and am there several times a year. I have a frame of reference for the topic, the culture, the torn feelings between tradition and progress, white ways and Africans. . But I have NEVER heard or read anything so profoundly put. Ngugi Wa Thiong'O is amazing in his writing. He really shows ALL of us, how important understanding a culture is before we go in and try to make change, to respect another while helping their hopes become a reality.

I bought this book to give to the library in Zambia but I cannot part with it. I am sure I will reread it many times and for sure will read his other books.+
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on March 3, 2016
A re-edition of one of Ngugi's early works, A River Between explores the roots of many current Kenyan and African issues set in a past, quasi-legendary time. As in his novel, Matigari, the prose is clear and direct and some may call the characterization simple. Behind the simplicity is a well-thought out and provocative tale involving the conflict between tradition, so-called modernization, and the role education plays in said conflict.
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on October 25, 2013
"The River Between" is a novel written by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o based on the separation of two neighboring villages of Kenya that are torn apart by their differences of faith. It depicts and analyzes the conflict between missionaries seeking to spread their Christian faith and the indigenous African tribes. It also explores the consequences of living under colonialism and describes the African fight for independence from colonial powers. As Ngugi Wa Thiong'o grew up in this time and first hand witness it happened he used this book to get his story out. The Main character, Waiyaki, I believe Thiong'o used him to actually portray himself in a way and the situation he witness growing up. One thing that stood out to me was Ngugi Wa Thiong'o's writing style. He was very descriptive in his diction use and that caused me to become visually inclined in the book. He also used many analogies or symbolisms that correlated between certain conflicts that made you think about different situations in perspective throughout the novel. This novel I believed got Thiong'o's story out and it makes the reader aware of Africa's past and even current struggles.

*Read this book for Dr. Rhonda M. Gonzales' HIS/AAS3603 class at the University of Texas At San Antonio*
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on November 7, 2007
Ngugu wa Thiong'o's two ridges are rivals to the political and spiritual salvation of the Kikuyu. Waiyaki stands between the two worlds. Indeed, he sees that both the traditionalist's view and the tribe and the new Christian view each hold a modicum of merit. Waiyaki attempts to bridge these worlds to strengthen the tribe and connect with the good of the modern world.
The man caught between two worlds is a common theme throughout literature and may be seen as trite. Yet, as usual trite themes are only bad when done by bad writers. Ngugu, however, is a fantastic writer. He is to the Kikuyu what Achebe is to the Ibo. This book is thoroughly enthralling; not only do I give this book 5 stars I would put it in must read.
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on December 30, 2014
It's a beautifully written book about indigenous people of Kenya and the changes they went through after the arrival of Europeans with new ideas and religion. The author beautifully describes the dilemma of holding on to the traditions and customs but at the same time wanting to learn ways of white men.
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on September 18, 2017
A wonderful novel. The story takes the reader inside the hidden world of a traditional African village and its fascinating people. Eye- and mind-opening. An insightful writer depicts this world with great sensitivity.
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on November 15, 2017
It is too easy to judge cultural attitudes that we consider backward. This book goes a long way towards overcoming this kind of prejudice. That is its principle virtue and, given the age of the author when it was written, it also testifies to his exceptional sensitivity and moral standing. It is well written, with objectivity and lack of undue hyperbole which also testify to the author's maturity.
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on May 15, 2014
The River Between beautifully describes the deep connection between a people (in this case, the Kikuyu) and a particular place (the Kenyan Highlands). The main protagonist is in many ways a very tragic figure, wanting the best for his people and attempting to navigate between competing forces (modernism/traditionalism)--and literally getting caught in the middle and having no way to escape. Ngugi shows how the tragedy is inherent within the situation, and he doesn't suggest that there are any clear-cut answers to the dilemmas that the protagonist confronts. Some would argue that Ngugi--a male author--portrays female circumcision is too favorable a light, but his portrayal is certainly thought-provoking--as is the book as a whole.
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on March 14, 2018
Purchased as required reading for a class.
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