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Revolution In Zanzibar: An American's Cold War Tale Paperback – 20 Oct 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; New Ed edition (20 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813342686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813342689
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,003,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

In thirty-five years with the Foreign Service, Donald Petterson has served as U.S. ambassador to Sudan, Somalia, and Tanzania. After his retirement in 1995, he was called back into the Foreign Service to take over the US embassy in Liberia. His previous books include Inside Sudan: Political Islam, Conflict, and Catastrophe. He lives in New Hampshire.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By C. Bowden on 16 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover
A very interesting account of the most tumultuous period in the history of the place nicknamed 'Paradise Island'. With evident anti-Soviet commentary and pro-American rhetoric, the author glosses over the more secret works of the American Embassy in Zanzibar but provides a hugely important eyewitness account of a period of time that shaped the destiny of one of Africa's most popular destinations.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
revolution in zanzibar 30 Oct. 2002
By Star Hill John - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I found this book offered a fascinating insight into our cold war era. I was eleven at the time the author was in Zanzibar and we had just come through the Cuban Missle Crisis. As I read through the book I relived some of those moments.
A very interesting insight into a lesser known African nation that plays into many of the issues that face just about all nations in Africa, namely the role that tribalism plays in determing who is in power and who is not in power. Ida Amin was one of the most notorious dictators and in this poignant book one gains an understanding that no matter how large or small your nation is in Africa, the challenges of bringing people together under one rule is daunting.
Last, I liked the author's humor. This is not a dry book. I highly recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating tale 10 Mar. 2011
By James D. Crabtree - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, written by State Department employee Don Petterson, discusses the 1964 revolution in the tiny African country of Zanzibar. The island state had just come from under the British umbrella as a protectorate and was ruled by a Omani Sultan and dominated by an Arab minority. In the bloody revolution which swept the Arabs out of power a small clique from the African majority took over. Petterson was there and wound up as the only American official left on the island, trying to look out for the property of U.S. citizens as well as a space tracking station which had been built on the island of Zanzibar. The book is fascinating in that it shows how Cold War thinking skewed State Department thinking, losing opportunities to influence the situation and provide stability. A very good read and includes some black and white photos in the text.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An Interesting View of the Cold War 29 July 2009
By Michael J. Nelson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Petterson has presented us with a very interesting and personal view of the Cold War from one of its more obscure and exotic locales. This book presents an interesting account of politics in 1960s East Africa through the eyes of the only US official to remain on the island of Zanzibar throughout the revolution. It describes the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar and dispels some of the myths surrounding the revolution. The author also provides interesting insight on the early careers of some of the notable figures to emerge in US and African politics including Frank Carlucci, Thomas Pickering, and Julius Nyerere. Anyone who is interested in East African politics or the East-West face off during the cold war should read this book. It is a great addition to any political science library.
Over 50 years later, I got some answers. 16 Jan. 2014
By James C. Brolin - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was an American teacher in the new secondary school on Pemba during in the 1963 Zanzibar revolution. The British army was stationed at our school during the election and I enjoyed the Uhuru celebrations on Chake Chake. After the revolution, I was housed at the King George IV School grounds until deported as an American "spy" just before it was announced the Zanzibar was part of the new Tanzania. The book answered a lot of questions I had 50 years ago thanks to the author.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Read 8 Jan. 2003
By Jillian Jaffe - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Being married to someone who was brought up in the diplomatic lifestyle has its merits. One hears many stories of how life is lived in exotic countries, as well as the impact the cultures of those countries has on a person. Even though the immersion into another culture is marred by working and living with other Americans, that culture does work itself into you.
My husband and I have both read this book, and have also been lucky enough to travel to East Africa. The author's descriptions of Zanzibar's history, culture and people are informative and well-researched. His passages can be either light-hearted or serious, and he does a good job of conveying the chaos and terror of the revolution's first days. I thought that the book flowed quite well, and that his style was quite engaging.
My husband especially felt that this book was an accurate depiction of diplomatic life. Calling one's servants by first name was just the way things were done; not in the manner of "boy" or "man", but in the manner of friendship. Also, a certain detachment is inevitable due to working in an Embassy or Consulate, as well as the people that one works with. Of course, there are diplomats who take NO initiative in learning about or experiencing another culture. Ambassador Petterson does not seem like this type at all.
This book allows a glimpse into the life of a lone American in a highly dangerous diplomatic situation. An almost unknown country and historical event unfolds through the pages, and we learn about the fringe of the Cold War, where one small island is contested between the Super Powers. An excellent read.
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