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C. Cooper "tablecooper" (UK)
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I Didn't Do It For You: How the World Used and Abused a Small African Nation
I Didn't Do It For You: How the World Used and Abused a Small African Nation
by Michela Wrong
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and researched, but very one-sided, 2 Jan 2008
I came to this book having loved "In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz", a fantastic book which veered crazily between the tragic and the hilariously funny in its account of how the Congolese have tried to survive the awfulness which befell their country.

"I didn't do it for you" reads much more like an angry polemic on behalf of the Eritrean people and I liked it less as a result. Its one-sidedness was particularly apparent in the description of the long struggle with Ethiopia for independence where Ms Wrong lionises the EPLF as modern-day Spartans, fantastically brave and resourceful, unswervingly dedicated to their cause - whereas the Ethiopians are never portrayed as anything more than murderous brutes. Her failure to level much criticism at the EPLF makes the post-independence slide of Eritrea into dictatorship and isolation seem a little odd, especially since she rather glosses over this period.

Nevertheless this is a beautifully written book which combines a myriad of personal anecdotes with painstaking historical research. It is well worth reading because it draws attention to a forgotten corner of Africa, and is a sobering reminder of the horrible damage that both of the Cold War superpowers wreaked in the developing world, as well as the enduring legacy of European colonialism.


The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last Cathars 1290-1329
The Yellow Cross: The Story of the Last Cathars 1290-1329
by René Weis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

23 of 52 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a serious work of history, 15 May 2003
I note that the author of this book is a Professor of Literature rather than of History. He would have been better off using his talents within the fictional realm. There is little evidence of the historical scholarship the first reviewer speaks of - the book fails to place the Cathars of Languedoc in any kind of political or cultural historical context, and a reader new to the subject would be absolutely mystified as to why the Catholic church chose to persecute the sect.
Instead we are subjected to pointless and anachronistic speculation as to the character and motives of the main protagonists. This would be ideal as the basis for the play or novel M. Weis should probably have written, but should hardly appear in a work of serious history. The story of the Cathars is a compelling one, which is what kept me reading until the end of this book, but they deserve a better historian than Rene Weis to tell their tale.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 11, 2010 2:56 PM BST


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