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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
I thoroughly enjoyed this and, like all good reads, was disappointed when I ended the book that I had no more to read!
Having spent some time in East Africa myself I was very impressed with the author's attention to detail and his provoking insight into the vagaries of global aid mixed with corruption.
Published on 7 Aug 2012 by Alexis

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ten weeks of contrasting thoughts.
There are 2 sets of considerations in mind as I put down my 3 star review.

The story, the writing and the characters are all well formed - the style can jar on occasion with occasional explicit exposition, just in case we weren't paying attention. If this were a crime novel based in the US, I would have happily enjoyed the ride. There are scenes which would...
Published 24 months ago by Paul Titley


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5.0 out of 5 stars the real Africa, 29 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Kindle Edition)
This novel reveals the truth behind futile Western aid efforts in a continent we still barely understand. A gripping story which isn't afraid to paint realistic characters, such as the corrupt female cabinet minister who trades on Western naively about "women's empowerment" - a great antidote to those fools who somehow believe the world's problems would be solved if women were in charge. The story is also truthful about the centrality of tribal and superstition today in many African countries, again ignored by well-meaning development experts from the rich world. A real achievement and totally recognisable to someone like me who has been working on these issues for a decade.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Destitution and despots., 9 April 2014
By 
Zola fan "Nana" (Hants, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Hardcover)
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I can’t praise this book enough, it kept me up through the wee hours wanting to know what happens next and I was sorry when it ended. From start to finish, there isn’t a dull page in the book.
Ed and Sarah Caine and their baby son are about to land in Kisuru, East Africa, where Ed is the newly appointed Director of the Global Justice Alliance. Ed has been given control of a big aid budget in order to oversee the building of a clinic and a school. Within days of starting his new job, Ed discovers that a huge part of the money has vanished. The building work hasn’t begun and a significant portion of the money seems to have disappeared into thin air.

This is a tale of high-level, widespread corruption and greed in an African state at the expense of people, the majority of whom live in abject poverty. Fear and intimidation prevent most of the honest politicians from speaking out. However, one brave minister and his courageous daughter join forces with the Caines and, together with a very unlikely hero, they try to unravel the complex trail that leads to the money.

This book is not just about the misappropriation of millions of pounds of aid money. It is a revelation into the futility and frustration faced by those trying to improve the lives of the poor. There are explicit scenes of violence and warfare where the majority of the people, innocent and living hand to mouth, are powerless and unprotected victims. Towards the end of the book, even the privileged lives of the Caine family is at risk.

Although set in Africa, the scenario described in this book could be about any corrupt country led by despots and their acolytes. It highlights the need for charitable donations, but also serves as a warning to choose your charity carefully. This is a first rate read and would make an excellent film.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good read but seems politically loaded and ill-informed, 2 Feb 2014
This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Hardcover)
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A book about corruption and foreign aid in Africa is always going to be a political hot potato. I'd hoped when I started reading that it had been written by someone with real experience of the complexities of this field. Instead it turns out the author has never had an experience, and has done their 'research' by speaking to people whose minds are already made up on the topic. It's not that I think the author's portrayal of aid in Africa is wrong necessarily (I wouldn't know). It's more that, if I'm going to read a fiction book on the subject, I would rather it wasn't reinforcing so many prejudices and stereotypes without the author really knowing what they're on about.

All the same, it's an enjoyable read, hence the three stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars never a true word?, 26 Sep 2013
By 
margesimpson "wifi" (sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Hardcover)
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a novel in africa that plays to all your inner fears that the good you try to do will ultimately be corrupted before it can reach those who need it, this is fiction but with that all to obvious ring of truth . how enthusiasm quickly turns to delusionment and some danger is added to the mix, this is a good novel that raises questions about the whole africa problem and about aid given into the wrong hands , a good read
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4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and enjoyable, 21 May 2013
By 
Peter R (Dorset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Hardcover)
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As someone who recently got into the charity sector, this book really grabbed my interest.

It didn't take me long to find that much of what J.M. Shaw writes is sadly not far from the truth. I don't have experience in Africa, though the places where I've had experience, things aren't much different.

If you're interested in how the world of aid functions and enjoy a good thriller then you'll find 'Ten Weeks in Africa' from the comfort of your sofa but insightful and enjoyable.

Hope that helps
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sad Statement, 19 May 2013
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Hardcover)
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The story of `Ten Weeks in Africa' is fiction, and it is both a tense thriller and a romantic novel, but more importantly it is a sad statement on the political, economic and cultural problems that beset many African countries. It catalogues details of bribery, fraud, embezzlement, violence, civil war etc. within the country by interweaving such issues into a compelling and gripping narrative that sets them against well crafted characters as criminals and corrupt politicians, administrators, security forces, police etc. as well as idealists and pragmatists.

Most readers will be unable to gauge the true depths of the endemic internal problems of Africa portrayed skilfully by author J M Shaw with those in power and officials growing rich at the expense of the poor. Shaw's story is dark and disturbing, and even allowing for exaggeration there is clearly an appalling state of affairs that offers little hope. Similarly it is difficult for readers to appreciate to what degree Western aid is mismanaged and ineffectual, or how much aid is channelled to promotion of political objectives rather than physical support for health, housing, education, infrastructure projects etc., and it is particularly shocking to recognize how government and aid agencies manipulate outcomes. It is likely that fictional descriptions are dramatized, but it is distressing to ponder on how close to reality are the evocative descriptions of family ties, tribal allegiances, slums, squalor etc. and the no-win desperate situations faced by so many. `Ten Weeks in Africa' is thought provoking and it will prompt readers to challenge the motives for intervention and the supposed benefits of Western aid.
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4.0 out of 5 stars DEVASTATING REVELATIONS OF SNOUTS IN THE TROUGH, 9 May 2013
By 
Mr. D. L. Rees "LEE DAVID" (DORSET) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Hardcover)
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Ed Caine comes to Batanga to check how millions of donated pounds are benefiting the needy. He discovers the money all gone yet nothing done. Everywhere he meets stonewalling, prevarication - evidence of bribery and corruption endemic. Any foreign Aid seemingly represents rich pickings for the unscrupulous - little, if any, reaching the intended targets. Nobody is interested in his findings, the British unwilling to upset a "friendly" Government. Outraged, he feels powerless.

All very disturbing. Although a work of fiction, the reader cannot help wondering how much is based on fact. Convincing concerns about the real worth of Aid represent the novel's strength, the people depicted often merely devices to spotlight certain aspects. Some make impact: that ever-scheming high and mighty Pamela Abasi; the humble seller of fried bananas Stephen. They represent different ends of the spectrum, survivors both. In between are a few rather one dimensional characters - not least Ed's wife Sarah, she content to be blinkered provided comfortably housed. Another theme is growing romance between charismatic entrepreneur Solomon and well-intentioned Beatrice. Readers may be divided about whether this rings true.

That love story, bloody tribal warfare, dramatic escapes, the contrast between extravagance on high and squalor amongst low - all are present, some more convincing than others. Dominant, though, are severe doubts about the policy of pouring Aid into volatile countries. Does it help or simply add to the problem?

Here is a read I cannot claim to have enjoyed, but it certainly made me sit up and think. The four stars have been awarded for its doing this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling reading, 27 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Kindle Edition)
I found this book difficult to put down - although it does paint a depressing picture of the aid business. The levels of corruption described are staggering and disheartening, and makes me wonder why anyone bothers at all? I fail to see any good from Ed's efforts this African country, and plenty of damage. I've been left with a far more cynical view than I held before. It's quite difficult not to feel angry with some of the biggest culprits and at times I marvelled at how Ed held his temper and sanity!

The storyline is compelling, and really hots up towards the end of the novel - it would make a great screen adaptation. The characters are believable, although I did find Sarah, Ed's wife a bit irritating at times. I'm not sure I'd label the story a 'love story' either - I certainly wasn't moved by it as much as I have been by other stories I've read ( for example the Time Traveller's Wife).

It is, however, a book that made me want to not do anything else for a few days - always a good sign!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Aid Critique as Sober Thriller, 24 Jan 2013
This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Hardcover)
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This is a solid, unfussy book that plunges straight into the poverty and corruption of contemporary Africa. At it's core to my mind is the idea- rejected for decades by the corporate driven Western Aid machine- that money handouts to developing world governments does not effective aid make. Capitalism in it's simplistic, value-judgement free way sees simple cash distribution to sympathetic actors [usually corrupt dictators] as the optimum way to distribute aid, but of course it has business interests at its heart more than the humanitarian, and the ordinary public are suckered into supporting such a system through a sense of easy guilt-release more than anything else.

This well written book charts that world and without any messing about gives the reader plenty to think about, while wrapping a good story around it, deep inside the mechanics of a fictional African state. Good stuff.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Read, 16 Nov 2012
This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Kindle Edition)
J.M. Shaw has captured the essence of Africa in this fast paced adventure. The characters are very believable and the author makes sure you are rooting for them as the plot develops and one by one they find themselves in dangerous situations. I would thoroughly recommend this book.
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