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I Didn’t Do It For You: How the World Used and Abused a Small African Nation Paperback – 4 Jul 2005
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Praise for I Didn’t Do It For You:
‘Contemporary history on the grand scale. I was entertained, informed and angered. Wrong has given us another essential contribution to the post-colonial scramble for Africa.’ John le Carre
‘Vivid, penetrating, wonderfully detailed. Michela Wrong has written the biography of a nation and more – she has excavated the very heart and soul of the Eritrean people and their country.' Aminatta Forna
‘If you thought Eritrea was some exotic flower you heard mentioned on a gardening programme this book will tell you something different. It tells the tale of a small group of Africans so despised and trampled by successive foreign occupations that they fought back and after 30 years of war, they became a nation. It is an astounding story packed with tales of the worst – and the best – of human behaviour.’ Richard Dowden, President of the Royal African Society
'This is a wonderful, readable and illuminating book. Michela Wrong is an enormously talented writer…thoroughly researched and deeply engaging and honest.' Clare Short – New Statesman
'Impressive … Wrong offers an uplifting testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Eminently readable and full of fascinating detail, this is a book that deserves and needs to be read' Guardian
'[A] corker … fascinating and tragic. Wrong's writing flows so smoothly that it is only after 100 pages or so that you notice how much legwork she has put in [and] she tracks down a startling array of characters' Daily Telegraph
'A lyrical, intensely intelligent and wonderfully readable history of Eritrea … beautifully written' Independent
About the Author
Michela Wrong has been a foreign correspondent since joining Reuters after University and has worked extensively in Africa for the BBC and has also worked for the Sunday Times. She now writes for the Financial Times
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Top customer reviews
And well done Michela keep it up!
The book is an impassioned travelogue through landscape, history and politics, with an author at once caustically funny, thoughtful and wry. If you like intelligent travel writing, you will love ms wrong's work, with its vivid landscapes and incisive human portraits. A cast of characters at times Pythonesque move against a back-cloth of tragedy - like the Italian Victor Meldrew, who sits, cursing in his rusting Eritrean scrapyard, or the bored GIs who hold farting competitions and smear their pants with peanut butter to horrify fastidious locals.
Underlying it all is the author's meticulous research, but it is a tribute to her writing that the reader never notices that they are being educated as well as entertained. I finished the book with that feeling of regret that only exceptional works give you.
"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.
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Most recent customer reviews
The book feels like it came straight of the shelves.Read more