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In the Name of the People: Angola's Forgotten Massacre [Hardcover]

Lara Pawson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 April 2014
On 27th May 1977, a small demonstration against the MPLA, the ruling party of Angola - led to the slaughter of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people. These dreadful reprisals are little talked of in Angola today - and virtually unknown outside the country. In this book, journalist Lara Pawson tracks down the story of what really happened in the aftermath of that fateful day. In a series of vivid encounters, she talks to eyewitnesses, victims and even perpetrators of the violent and confusing events of the 27th May and the following weeks and months. From London to Lisbon to Luanda, she meets those who continue to live in the shadow of the appalling events of 40 years ago and who - in most cases - have been too afraid to speak about them before. As well as shedding light on the events of 1977, this book contributes to a deeper understanding of modern Angola - its people and its politics; past, present and future.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: I.B.Tauris (30 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780769059
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780769059
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.4 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 182,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'With unflagging intelligence, fearlessness, and compassion, Pawson unfolds the human and political dimensions of this forgotten atrocity. She has done Angola a great service in writing this book, and all of us, Angolan or otherwise, do ourselves a great service in reading it.'
Teju Cole

'A brilliant piece of sleuthing, research, reportage and an example of unblinking determination... I greatly admire this book.'
Paul Theroux

'Lara Pawson has a poet's eye for telling detail, a priest's empathy for human idiosyncrasy and the dogged determination of a sleuth. Fired up by her determination to discover what really happened on May 27, 1977 in Angola, she skewers in the process of this gripping investigation both the hypocrisy of the Angolan government and the sloppy naivety of the British Left.'
Michela Wrong

'Compelling... [Pawson's] conversational tone, her musings, and lively descriptions, make In the Name of the People as engaging as it is informative.'
Lucy Popescu, Times Literary Supplement

'Pawson brings her sources to life like a novelist; her meetings are vivid and convincing. A simple, direct clarity of vision is brought to bear, and the reader begins to make some sense of the conspiracies and sub-conspiracies that led to the vinte-sete. By the end, Angola - along with some of its layered political complexity - is raw, vital, brutal and alive in front of us.'
M. John Harrison, author of Climbers

'Gripping... Lara Pawson digs beneath the superficial account which was all we really had to explain the events… an account of the lives of those on both sides of the struggle in 1977, a series of portraits of life in Angola with its extremes of privilege and poverty and it reads like a thriller.'
--Keith Somerville, African Arguments

'Gripping... Lara Pawson digs beneath the superficial account which was all we really had to explain the events.' --Keith Somerville, African Arguments

About the Author

Lara Pawson was a BBC World Service Correspondent in Africa from 1997-2007, covering various regions. From 1998-2000 she was stationed in Angola, covering the ongoing Angolan Civil War and she has returned to Angola multiple times since. She currently works as a freelance journalist and lives in London.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinarily important new book 16 May 2014
Lara Pawson's extraordinary and important book describes a vital moment in Africa's post-independent history. Pawson exposes a murderous regime, a forgotten massacre and those who supported it. She is right to target certain (frequently European) Marxists, or more accurately revolutionary nationalists who gave the MPLA government a radical camouflage. Pawson writes with irresistible force about a generation of radicals who many of us depended on for a critical understanding of African politics, history and commentary. So as well as uncovering the massacre the book also looks at the contradictory relationship of a generation of (mostly) white radical intellectuals to apparently progressive and socialist regimes that emerged in the second wave of independence in Africa in the 1970s. It is not often that you can say this about a single book but Africa's modern history will never look the same again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A courageous book, a vital read 29 May 2014
Lara Pawson's book is immensely important. In the enthusiasm of solidarity with MPLA and their struggle for liberation and against imperial and South African interventions, it is easy to forget that none of our liberation movements have been free from carrying out sometimes unsavoury and sometimes gross acts against those raising questions from within. This breeds a silence on crimes that are committed, all in the supposed interest of solidarity. The killing / disappearance of cadres in the 27 May 1977 in Angola is one such event that has been suppressed by both the leadership of the MPLA and their supporters. Lara Pawson has taken to heart Amilcar Cabral's warning: Tell no lies, claim no easy victories. The truth will always out, and Lara Pawson is to be congratulated for the courage in investigating and telling the story in a calm, even-handed way, something not easy to do given the nature of the tragedy and the forces aligned in seeking to suppress that history. Essential reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and valuable work 14 July 2014
This is an outstanding book, an all-too-rare example of diligent, dignified and brave journalism. By showing us her methods and taking us through the narrative of how she approached the issue of 27 May Lara Pawson has written a book that, although undeniably valuable for followers of African and Angolan politics, is just as worthwhile for the non-specialist. This is a book about the 27 May but it is also a book about journalism, research and the importance of objectivity. It is also beautifully written, with a wry and sometime dark humour pervading it. I read it in two sittings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars phenomenal writing 24 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is stunningly written. it is deeply personal and immensely moving. one cannot fail to be touched by the stories the author carefully and sensitively withdraws from her interviewees. it is a book about so much more than Angola. It informs the reader about human nature at its worst and best, and politics, on a global scale. Despite the seriousness and tragedy, it also has moments of hilarious observation. I cannot recommend it more highly.
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