I was reading the first part of the book and admiring the `reportage' and excellent 'journalism' of the writer. I met many Portuguese guys that left and came back to Angola when the war ended and I was still looking for the why, what made people leave everything they've toiled for, their farms, houses, churches, animals, the icon of the family's saint above the door frame. Kapuscinski tell their story nicely, his story make sense.
But then he leaves Luanda and travel to the fronts and my affair with him ends there. I live in and out of Angola for over 7 years now, I've been there when the war ended, I worked with war veterans from both sides. I have good MPLA friends and good UNITA friends. I met South-African that were here, fighting, and Portuguese farmers that never left. I traveled the country by length. I know the places that Kapuscinski visited. I know them well.
Kapuscinski does what I thought a good foreign journalist in a new place must not do- take a side. How can you tell a story when your political views are so one sided (and in 1975 Kapuscinski came from a Communist, not a Socialist country and the war in Angola was, when the book was published in 1976, an important icon of the cold war- a case study for `war by proxy').
When one can see only the mixed race elite of Luanda as the legitimate owners of that land yet one choose to ignore the views of everyone else, as educated but yet fully African.
Most of the friends Kapuscinski make are white or mixed race Angolan. Some of them Portuguese adventurers, but they chose a communist flag so they represent the brave young republic and for them Kapuscinski will cross journalist lines and will pass information that might help stop the `others' to whom he does not speak, which he does not even meet. The others must be puppets of foreign masters and their white soldiers all mercenaries.
The Cuban where the one really to turn the tide, 25,000 of them will be a much more accurate number then what the book says. It wasn't just their uniforms that made UNITA run as Kapuscinski suggests, it was also their MIG airplanes and their heavy tanks and the mountains of Russian AK 47's that they brought with them. This book tells an interesting story and it tells it nicely. The story was told in a political context, not just a journalist context. There are so little stories about that period of time so this little different in context is Important.
The product summery quotes from the book: "It's wrong to write about people without living through at least a little of what they are living through', I agree, a fair rule. I only wish Kapuscinski would have kept it beyond his immediate political views.