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Unhappy Valley. Conflict in Kenya and Africa: Book One: State and Class: State and Class Bk.1 (Eastern African Studies) Paperback – 23 Apr 1992


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... a wide-ranging and masterly discussion of the colonial years in central Kenya. Both authors display an admirable erudition, Berman in concentrating on white-settler and colonial concerns and administration, Lonsdale on African responses. Lonsdale's great chapter in the second volume entitled 'The Moral Economy of Mau Mau' is an approach to understanding them that achieves a grand originality. - Basil Davidson in THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS ... African history-writing retains enormous intellectual dynamism. Nothing demonstrates this more strikingly than Unhappy Valley, Bruce Berman and John Lonsdale's collection of essays on colonialism, class and ethnicity; centred mostly on Kenya, which includes some more general or theoretical pieces. The book underlines, too, something of wider significance. However moribund Marxism may seem today as a basis for political belief and action, it still has unmatched resources as a tool-kit for historical understanding. The kind of flexible, even eclectic Marxist method Berman and Lonsdale employ can generate historical writing of great subtlety and power; perhaps especially about the third world societies Marx and his orthodox followers barely considered. ...The real gold is in Lonsdale's long essay on Kikuyu moral economy, a hundred pages of dense, detailed, but beautifully crafted investigation of the intellectual roots of the Mau Mau revolt. It is quite simply one of the most exciting historical works I have ever read. Mau Mau has been interpreted by the colonial authorities as more reversion to barbarism, by romantic Kenyan radicals as a betrayed national liberation struggle, and by more recent historians as a rural class conflict driven by purely economic forces. Lonsdale uncovers something quite different, far more complex and unfamiliar. He finds a search for a renewed social order encompassing individual moral worth, conducted in the language of Kikuyu tradition and Biblical interpretation, and struggling to find psychic home in the alien and desperate world created by colonialism. - Stephen Howe in THE NEW STATESMAN & SOCIETY

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