'This descent from liberatory euphoria to the heart of darkness is all too symbolic of what Africa has gone through since independence, and it is this that Meredith chronicles in a series of often vivid country snapshots ... Meredith is a sure guide to this colossal, sad story R W Johnson, SUNDAY TIMES 'As a popular introduction to the subject it could hardly be bettered' Daily Telegraph 11/06 'A clear-sighted examination of Africa's plight... Contrary to the simplistic view of those who prefer to lash the West for its mishandling of the continent, there is a vast amount only Africa can put right' Daily Telegraph 18/6 'In Africa the past does matter. It explains the present and no one is going to move anywhere without it. That is why this book is important. It's about how we got here. The legions of development missionaries ... should all be given a free copy. This book is also great narrative. Delivered in digestible chunks ... Meredith is at his best telling the story of the rise and fall of each ruler ... Meredith has given a spectacularly clear view of the African political jungle from above' Richard Dowden, SPECTATOR 'As a narrative of Africa's political trajectory since independence, this book is hard to beat. Meredith packs a lot of empirical information into his text without overwhelming his reader. The book is elegantly written as well as unerringly accurate, and despite its considerable length it holds the attention of the reader to the end ... Excellent ... Some of his anecdotes are priceless ... the book is impressive in many ways' Paul Nugent, FINANCIAL TIMES Martin Meredith discussed with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown 'What's wrong with the way Africa and it problems are portrayed in Britain?' Today, BBC Radio 4 1/7 'In the time it takes to watch an all-day pop concert in Hyde Park, anyone looking for an understanding of Africa's problems can and should read Martin Meredith's authoritative analysis of the post-independence continent. The writer, who is as even-handed in this country-by-country history as he was in his biography of Robert Mugabe three years ago, does not fall into the dangerous trap of calling for debt relief or more aid ... If Meredith's conclusion is depressing, his dispassionate analysis does more than perhaps he realises to set the past 50 African years in a continuum' Alex Duval Smith, INDEPENDENT 'Any would-be demonstrator at the G8 summit in Scotland this week should take a look into this harrowing but sober volume. Martin Meredith offers an excellent account of the miseries of modern Africa, relentless in its scope. He gives in his more discursive sections a withering critique of the futility and hypocrisy of Western governments in a continent they have only made darker' Michael Fry, SCOTTISH SUNDAY MAIL 'The Bestselling History Titles in June... No 13. The State of Africa... A highly readable digest of half a century of woes in the cradle of mankind' ECONOMIST 'You cannot even begin to understand contemporary African politics if you have not read this fascinating book' Bob Geldof 'The State of Africa, Meredith's account of four decades of systematic diversion of Africa's wealth to criminal local elites and their accomplices in rich nations, provides a salutary corrective to the current interantional debate, a reminder of how discussions of African countries often lack the thing they most need: a historical perspective... Meredith's historically rooted scepticism may be pessimistic and politically inconvenient, but it is part of a debate that needs to be heard' TLS 4/11 'This magisterial history seeks to explore the myriad problems that Africa has faced in the past half-century, and indeed still faces' Sunday Telegraph 9/4
From the Inside Flap
The fortunes of Africa have changed dramatically in the fifty years since the independence era began. As Europes colonial powers withdrew, dozens of new states were launched amid much jubilation and to the worlds applause. African leaders stepped forward with energy and enthusiasm to tackle the problems of development and nation-building, boldly proclaiming their hopes of establishing new societies that might offer inspiration to the world at large. The circumstances seemed auspicious. Independence came in the midst of an economic boom. On the world stage, African states excited the attention of the worlds rival power blocs; in the Cold War era, the position that each newly independent state adopted in its relations with the West or the East was viewed as a matter of crucial importance. Africa was considered too valuable a prize to lose.
Today, Africa is spoken of only in pessimistic terms. The sum of its misfortunes its wars, its despotisms, its corruption, its droughts is truly daunting. No other area of the world arouses such a sense of foreboding. Few states have managed to escape the downward spiral: Botswana stands out as a unique example of an enduring multi-party democracy; South Africa, after narrowly avoiding revolution, has emerged in the post-apartheid era as a well-managed democratic state. But most African countries are effectively bankrupt, prone to civil strife, subject to dictatorial rule, weighed down by debt, and heavily dependent on Western assistance for survival.
So what went wrong? How did Harold Macmillans winds of change turn into Tony Blairs scar on the conscience of the world? What happened to this vast continent, so rich in resources, culture and history, to bring it so close to destitution and despair in the space of two generations?
Focusing on the key personalities, events and themes of the independence era, Martin Merediths magisterial history seeks to explore and explain the myriad problems that Africa has faced in the past half-century, and faces still. From the giddy enthusiasms of the 1960s to the coming of tyrants and rapid decline, The State of Africa is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand how it came to this and what, if anything, is to be done.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.