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Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid [Hardcover]

Peter Gill
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

8 July 2010
The terrible 1984 famine in Ethiopia focused the world's attention on the country and the issue of aid as never before. Anyone over the age of 30 remembers something of the events - if not the original TV pictures, then Band Aid and Live Aid, Geldof and Bono. Peter Gill was the first journalist to reach the epicentre of the famine and one of the TV reporters who brought the tragedy to light. This book is the story of what happened to Ethiopia in the 25 years following Live Aid: the place, the people, the westerners who have tried to help, and the wider multinational aid business that has come into being. We saved countless lives in the beginning and continued to save them now, but have we done much else to transform the lives of Ethiopia's poor and set them on a 'development' course that will enable the country to do without us?

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (8 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199569843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199569847
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 14.4 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 615,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Gill does great justice to this ever-pertinent issue. (Maria Kuecken, London School of Economics Review of Books)

Excellent. (William Easterly, New York Review of Books)

Well-written and accessible book. (Economist)

A thoughtful, well-informed and detached account. (Michael Holman, Literary Review)

Thank God for great journalism. A book that strips away the cant and rumour a superb and vital piece of work. (Bob Geldof)

No outsider understands Ethiopia better than Peter Gill. He combines compassion with a clinical commitment to the truth. (Jonathan Dimbleby)

The essential book on Ethiopia, the world's crucible for hunger and poverty, and on development theory and practice. (Alex de Waal, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and author of 'Famine Crimes')

Judicious analysis and a strong narrative. A must for all those who think there is a simple answer to the famine. (Michael Buerk)

About the Author

Peter Gill has specialised in developing world affairs for most of his career, an interest that began as a VSO teacher in Sudan and his first visit to Ethiopia in the 1960s. In the 1970s he was South Asia and Middle East Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph. For TV Eye and This Week, he made films in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, in Gaza and Lebanon, in South Africa under apartheid and in Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia during the famine years. He made Mr Famine for ITV about corruption at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and Clare's New World about Clare Short, DFID and its first White Paper Eliminating World Poverty. From 1999- 03, he headed the India office of the BBC World Service Trust. His first project partnered Indian broadcasters in leprosy campaigning that brought 200,000 patients forward for cure, this led to a £5 million project on HIV/Aids awareness. He has is author of Drops in the Ocean, A Year in the Death of Africa and Body Count.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Anecdotal history 21 Aug 2010
By Grafton
This book is interesting in that it covers the last 25 years. It appears that the author has been fed a lot of information by the Government (access to the PM and ministers) which he has too readily accepted without question. The book lacks an analytical rigour in that there is no clear theme. Instead the chapters are written in an anecdotal way. On the positive side, Peter Gill does know and understand the country well.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ethiopia 15 Sep 2011
This book is an interesting account of the various famines which have affected Ethiopia since the 1970s and brings to light the the difficult relations between national bodies and international agencies who mainly seem to be working to different agendas.
Also highlighted is the numbers game of in flating problems,particularly by NGOs, that are desperate for a piece of the cake.
While ETHiopia has made reasonable strides in famine reduction via aagriculture and directed aid tyh problem has spresd to Somalia where conditions are severe and made worse bycivil unrest.
The author gives credit to China for the execellent work it is undertaking in building Ethiopias infra sttucture.
An excellent well researched book but is in need of pictures and statistical tables.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars famine and foreigners 28 Sep 2010
By ras
very good book the author has traveld the all regions of ethiopia and has produred a balance assesemet of the past 20 years
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought -- but never enough of it 11 Aug 2011
By C. Lindsey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An illuminating report from a beat reporter whose beat is Ethiopian famine. I benefited from Gill's knowledge of the peoples, politicians, and geography of Ethiopia, and his dogged attempts to be fair to almost all sides. I say "almost" because he offered neither wisdom nor fairness toward anything American, governmental or otherwise, and because he obviously had his pet charities (whose rivals had little or no room to respond). Moreover, what hooked me into buying this book was the chance of a follow-up on the whole global charity phenomenon that surged in the 1980s: what did it leave behind? Is it still active in Ethiopia? Can I look inside its 21st-century progeny? How did it change (or not) westerners' desire to help the hungry, how did it spawn compassion fatigue, did it eventually shake off charity dilettantism or is that plague still with us?

Gill has a fine sense of irony, so it was disappointing to spot the places where he didn't employ it. As in his efforts to parse the Meles government and its progress toward feeding people, reforms and techniques and strategies and so on, without once confronting the question of whether this is a land that could EVER feed itself, and if not, what the clear-eyed response should be. Maybe a country that endlessly perfects its ways of collecting and channeling aid from better-fed countries is not actually solving its problem. What could Ethiopia do, anyway, to bear itself up in a globalized world? Should we make a fetish of these scrawny, unreliable, tiny farms and their inevitable seasonal failures, or does Ethiopia need an injection of something entirely different that could pull it into the world economy? Is Ethiopian subsistence -- spotty subsistence -- enough for us all to feel smug and happy about what we've helped bring about there? Wouldn't we want more for ourselves?

Moreover, Gill gets contraception backward: it's not an investment used to cut down the number of hungry mouths (western reductionism) but a technique that people will adopt AFTER their livelihoods become more secure. That's been shown. Family planning is the cart, prosperity the horse. "Feed the World" still echoes in my head from that dreck 1980s ballad. "Feed Ethiopia's future, and thus its prosperity, and thus its people" is presumably not as much of a hook.

Interesting to watch the news today. Famine is once more raging in these barren lands, and nothing at all has been solved.
5.0 out of 5 stars Succinct, Factual and Analytical, never Ideological 3 April 2014
By amazonmark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the first "social studies" book that I have read in 2 years and I am really glad that I chose this one. The book covered not only raw data about food production and nutrition but also the politics involved in responding to drought and hunger in Ethiopia. Along the way the reader is introduced to major NGFs such as Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders. A solid primer. Can be read in entirety on a Saturday afternoon by a reader possessing average reading skills .
4.0 out of 5 stars Fair and Balanced and an all round view of Famine in Ethiopia 30 Oct 2012
By Mesfin Gabreselassie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found Peter Gills book of Famine and Foreigners as an objective view that looks at famine from all angles (political, social, economic).
He provides great insight to the cause of famine and to anyone who takes time to read this book realizes that the solution to Famine is neither simplistic nor accomplished in short sprints. His presentation of three regimes handling of famine (Haile Selassie, Mengistu and the current regime. ) His analysis of these regimes handling of famine provides an interesting insight as to how closely related is solving the problem of famine and the political policy of the regime in power.
He lets his readers see what was important to the Haile Selassie regime (denial of its existence at the expense of the lives of millions is preferred than the embarrassment of admitting that one's citizens need outside help). He juxtaposes this with Mengistu regime that was willing to spend 1.2 billion dollars in importing arms from the former Soviet Union at exactly the same time as it's nations citizens were dying at a rate of 100/day.
He contrasts the number of dead in the 1984 famine in which 600, 000 died (not to mention the 50,000 that died in resettlement) versus the one in 2003 where 300 died even though 13.2 million faced the prospect of famine.
Despite pointing to this progress he directs his reader the current regimes suppression of free press and the rounding of journalists to prison and the excessive use of force during the 2005 election. To do that he presents the views of both the regime as espoused by Meles in his conviction that a regime might suspend democracy for a while as it implements sound economic development for its nation side by side with those who challenge the regime as being extremely repressive.
Amare was one who fought side by side with Melese (former Prime Minister of Ethiopia) and was head of Ethiopian Television who left his post as he found the current regimes firm grip on free press. I would say this book is an exciting journey for both those that are already well informed about the political climate in Ethiopia and for those who would like to get their hands on a book that provides an objective view.
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