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House at Sugar Beach, the [Hardcover]

Helene Coper
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: 14.76 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

12 Aug 2008
Journalist Helene Cooper examines the violent past of her home country Liberia and the effects of its 1980 military coup in this deeply personal memoir and finalist for the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award. Helene Cooper is "Congo," a descendant of two Liberian dynasties--traced back to the first ship of freemen that set sail from New York in 1820 to found Monrovia. Helene grew up at Sugar Beach, a twenty-two-room mansion by the sea. Her childhood was filled with servants, flashy cars, a villa in Spain, and a farmhouse up-country. It was also an African childhood, filled with knock foot games and hot pepper soup, heartmen and neegee. When Helene was eight, the Coopers took in a foster child--a common custom among the Liberian elite. Eunice, a Bassa girl, suddenly became known as "Mrs. Cooper's daughter." For years the Cooper daughters--Helene, her sister Marlene, and Eunice--blissfully enjoyed the trappings of wealth and advantage. But Liberia was like an unwatched pot of water left boiling on the stove. And on April 12, 1980, a group of soldiers staged a coup d'etat, assassinating President William Tolbert and executing his cabinet. The Coopers and the entire Congo class were now the hunted, being imprisoned, shot, tortured, and raped. After a brutal daylight attack by a ragtag crew of soldiers, Helene, Marlene, and their mother fled Sugar Beach, and then Liberia, for America. They left Eunice behind. A world away, Helene tried to assimilate as an American teenager. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill she found her passion in journalism, eventually becoming a reporter for the "Wall Street Journal" and the "New York Times." She reported from every part of the globe--except Africa--as Liberia descended into war-torn, third-world hell. In 2003, a near-death experience in Iraq convinced Helene that Liberia--and Eunice--could wait no longer. At once a deeply personal memoir and an examination of a violent and stratified country, "The House at Sugar Beach" tells of tragedy, forgiveness, and transcendence with unflinching honesty and a survivor's gentle humor. And at its heart, it is a story of Helene Cooper's long voyage home.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Printing edition (12 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743266242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743266246
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 15.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,146,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Nearly three decades after fleeing Liberia, Cooper offers an indelible view of her homeland and makes palpable the pain that she felt when she lost it." -- "People" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We lived in Liberia throughout the 1970's (our older daughter was in the same year at school as Helene), and this book brought back many, many memories. I was amazed at how calmly Helene could write about terrible events, and at her lack of bitterness - indeed, her understanding and compassion - towards those who murdered members of her family and tore apart a way of life. Many foreigners have found it easy to be rude about Liberia but, for Helene (and our children) it was home, and she clearly loves her home country and its people. I'm not sure how much Helene's book would mean to anyone who has not been to, or lived in Liberia, but we and friends from those far-off days loved it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best contemporary book on Liberia & Liberians 17 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback
Liberians drive you mad one minute & have you in stitches the next. I asked my wife about "knock-foot" & laughing she gave an unforgettable demonstration of hand claps with hops, skips & kicks that she hadn't done since she was 10 years old, before Taylor destroyed her family's happy Monrovia life. A great read with pages of sharply observed anecdotes, laughter & tears.
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5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT READ 23 Aug 2013
By jcar5
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This turned out to be one of the most absorbing (and enjoyable) books I have ever read. Helene Cooper's story is one that just had to be told and is told in a clear, concise, amusing, sad and factual way that is most absorbing. Sad in many ways but eye opening to those not aware of the details of Liberian history. Helene is marvellous and brave. Her personailty shines through the pages. A must read.
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