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4.6 out of 5 stars
Anthills of the Savannah (Penguin Modern Classics)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 September 2015
Chinua Achebe has ample own experience on the topic writing about - namely how do dictatorships develop - and does a spectacular job of describing the subtle dynamics that will inexorably draw people together and subsequently apart in such a scenario. Set in a fictional African state of Kangan and told through various narrators - all of whom used to belong to a tightly knit group of friends before one of them became His Excellency - it presents a wonderful take on power, delusion and the mechanics of third world autocratic governments.

The story revolves around Chris (commissioner for information), Ikem (editor of the most prominent newspaper in the country), Beatrice (Chris' girlfriend and an employee at the ministry of finance) and finally Sam (His Excellency) - all UK educated, all friends at some point in time - and their deteriorating relationship. The inexorable changes result from Sam slowly but surely losing his grip on reality and spiralling into self delusion. At the same time the country is rapidly approaching truly disruptive change in a development that is as terrible, as it is inexorable.

Modelled on oil boom Nigeria, it is probably one of the more prominent of Achebe's works. Written much later than his early fiction (1987), it loses none of the vitality of works such as Things Fall Apart (Penguin Classics) or No Longer at Ease (Penguin Modern Classics) but adds perhaps a richer, more nuanced understanding of politics into the mix.

If you are interested in a fictional yet insightful view of the development of dictatorship, you can hardly do better than Anthills. Updike's The Coup (Penguin Modern Classics) does not have the easy flow or the first hand insight, and books such as Naipaul's A Bend in the River are just not quite in the same league quality wise in my opinion.
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on 1 May 2013
If you would like to have insight into why Nigeria is the way it is, then this book is a must! Apart from the fact that Achebe is a beautiful and poet writer, this book sends the reader through the minds of those who desire to see their nation remove itself from the military and uneducated rulership that they find themselves in
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on 15 July 2015
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on 12 June 2013
How can a country like Nigeria ever hope to be well governed - maybe helping to understand the basic problems will help any student of Nigerian Politics.
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on 10 February 2018
I read Achebe whilst travelling through Africa - Nigeria, to be specific, and this is kind of where his dystopian political novel is set. It's an extraordinary book, full of colour and the little details that bring his native country to life; it is also a sad book for being so true and accurate a picture of life in Nigeria.
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on 7 April 2013
Interesting insight into African politics. Very plausible through well developed characters and plot. Use of pidgin and Igbo-inflected voices add to realism but difficult to understand fully.
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on 29 October 2000
I would recommend this novel to anybody. I became completely wrapped up in it and read the whole book in one sitting. It is about highest level society in a post colonial African state and focuses on five characters, three of whom are the "green bottles" who control the state. The multi narrative structure works very much to the novel's advantage, drawing the reader in and allowing us to discover different character's motives and prerogatives. This structure could have been confusing and unnecessary, but Achebe controls it so skilfully through use of the third person throughout, that it enhances, not detracts from the reading experience. Achebe also manages to show us the effects of the corruption on the state (Kangan), without painting any of the characters in absolute, black and white terms. We are shown all the characters in a measured and unbiased way, allowing us to form our own judgements. The skilful characterisation fully supports this. However at the same time the reader is also aware of Achebe's own political message. All in all, a thoroughly entralling, enjoyable novel, which educates without ever slipping into a boring,dull style.
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on 3 August 2009
This is not a modern Classic, but an average story of coups in a banana republic. Though the prose is fine, there is nothing original or exiting about the story. The psychological perspective is shallow. The author tries to give a view of hipocrisy, power-awe, and changing attitudes as a response to power-balance shifts, but doesn't cut it. The educated reader will not be enlightened with respects to the Human Condition, nor History, the two themes that really entitle writing of novels.
That said, a high-school level student would find it a good easy read with things to discuss during class.
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on 3 November 2010
I first read, "Things Fall Apart" and fell in love with Chinua Achebes writing style.
As a 2nd gen Nigerian (in the UK) it means alot to me to be able to read and enjoy the work
of a Nigerian author and this book was a pleasure to read. Arrived in good condition with only
slight wear and tear as initially disclosed. Thanks amazon.
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