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My First Coup d'Etat: Memories from the Lost Decades of Africa [Paperback]

John Dramani Mahama
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 10.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

19 July 2012

My First Coup D'Etat chronicles the coming-of-age of John Dramani Mahama in Ghana during the dismal post-independence 'lost decades' of Africa. He was seven years old when rumours of a coup reached his boarding school in Accra. His father, a minister of state, was suddenly missing, then imprisoned for more than a year.

My First Coup D'Etat offers a look at the country that has long been considered Africa's success story. This is a one-of-a-kind book: Mahama's is a rare literary voice from a political leader, and his stories work on many levels - as fables, as history, as cultural and political analysis, and, of course, as the memoir of a young man who, unbeknownst to him or anyone else, would grow up to be vice president of his nation. Though non-fiction, these are stories that rise above their specific settings and transport the reader - much like the fiction of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Nadine Gordimer - into a world all their own, one which straddles a time lost and explores the universal human emotions of love, fear, faith, despair, loss, longing, and hope despite all else.

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My First Coup d'Etat: Memories from the Lost Decades of Africa + An African Election [DVD]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (19 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408832682
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408832684
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


It's a rich, gentle, powerful, kind African voice that is largely missing from America, and that is certainly invisible in American accounts of African politics. (Andrew Solomon, author of THE NOONDAY DEMON)

I found the stories - or rather snapshots of a life - warm and engaging. I particularly liked the view of a complex world in microcosm. (Aminatta Forna, author of THE MEMORY OF LOVE)

[Mahama's stories] lure the reader into an unforgettable journey in which he interacts with history as a living tissue. The characters and the episodes are part of the everyday but one imbued with magic and suggestive power that go beyond the concrete and the palpable to hint at history in motion. (Ngugi wa Thiongo, author of WEEP NOT CHILD and WIZARD OF THE CROW)

Book Description

An important literary debut from the Vice President of Ghana, a fable-like memoir that offers a shimmering microcosm of post-colonial Africa.

'A much welcome work of immense relevance' Chinua Achebe

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly honest and a good read 5 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My First Coup d'Etat: Memories from the Lost Decades of Africa I really enjoyed this autobiographical account of growing up in Ghana, set against the political backdrop of post-independence. Having spent a lot of my adult life in northern Ghana and being familiar with much of the historical, cultural and geographical settings certainly added to the enjoyment, but this would be a good read for anyone looking for insights into post-colonial development and challenges. The author, John Dramani Mahama, is now president of Ghana, having stepped into the position on the recent death of John Atta Mills. With elections coming on 7th December 2012, he may possibly not be president for much longer, but if that gives him more time for writing, I shall look forward to his next book. In fact I think this book gives a good window on why Ghana has developed into a democratic nation where changes of government take place upon the expressed wishes of the people. John Mahama comes across as an unpretentious person who loves his country and seeks peace rather than power. Long may that trait continue in Ghanaian politicians.
UPDATE: On a recent 6-week working visit to Ghana (May 2013)we were asked to vacate our Guest House rooms near the northern border because the President (John Mahama, duly re-elected for a further 4-year term) was on an official visit to the area and needed to eat his lunch there, with his considerable entourage. Of course, we complied, but unfortunately didn't get a chance to meet him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A heartfelt memoir by a man passionate about his country. Mahama writes with affection and illustrates his memories in a way that makes the reader feel fully immersed in the story. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the book I expected it to be 3 Oct 2012
By moellen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because Matthew Parris gave it such high praise in his column in The Times and I got the impression it was a series of snapshots of a rural life lived in Ghana. In fact this is a memoir by the current President which includes his early life in Ghana which paints a picture of a happy family life lived in the rural North of the country.

As he grows up things change,there have been several coups mostly by the army and at times things have been really bad, food shortages and transport difficulties, corruption and the people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

I feel this is a very honest account of what actually happened and am sure Mr Mahama will be a very good President. It was not the book I wanted to read but I enjoyed it anyway.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful descriptions of life in Africa 7 Sep 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a really evocative book, giving details of a way of life, now gone. I really enjoyed reading this book, but the Kindle version was marred by the title page being repeatedly included.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My First Coup d'État by John Dramani Mahama 4 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this personal account of the life and experiences of President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana. It is a tender mix of personal rememberances, set in the larger context of Ghana during these difficult post-independence years. I consider it a beautiful complement to "The State of Africa" by Martin Meredith, which is much more factual and broad in scope.
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