Top positive review
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Kings of Kings live off the blood of the people
on 25 July 2007
Fantastic!!This was Kapuscinski's first book to be translated into English,and the second of his I read(the first was "Another Day Of Life").
It is a sequence of reminiscence-s of Haile Selasse's court,rendered by a bunch of flunkies,hangers-on and true believers,and they are amazing.When you read one of them arguing that periodic famine is good for Ethiopians,or another saying that education is bad because it's easy to go from the habit of reading to the habit of thinking,you are shaking your head in disbelief.
The second major theme in the book is the Red Terror(the fetasha)launched by the military committee(the Dergue)taking place as Kapuscinski is in Addis Ababa researching this book.His descriptions of crazed soldiers manning jeeps and roadblocks,searching everything and not being averse to opening fire on any real or imagined enemies,is a fantastic description of life under terror.
As you finish this,remember that Kapuscinski was a citizen of a Communist dicatorship in Poland.Is this book really about Ethiopia,or is it Kapuscinski writing about terror and dictatorship in general,a thinly disguised critique of Gierek's Poland?Some Poles I've spoken to about say the former,some the latter.Judge for yourself.
A fine piece of reportage,and well up to Kapuscinski's finest standards.Beware though-if this is the first of his books that you've read,you'll end up reading all of them.Start saving now!!