Africa’s World War

The subtitle is Congo, The Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe and yes the book truly explains all of these things or at least gives it a noble try.  The author is Gérard Prunier.  I've been stunned by how much I've learned from this book, which is clear without denying the underlying complexities.  I rate it as one of the two excellent books of the year so far, the other being Ted Gioia's book on the history of the blues.

You'll find a very critical review of the book here but I was more impressed by the book than by the review.  I liked this excerpt:

Interviewer: What model of democracy do you see as suitable?

Kabila: I cannot say now, you are asking too much.  Being a head of state is not like being in a restaurant.  I have to have time to think about it.

Comments

I see no mention of the true respobsibles for Rwanda , the french government and the catholic church. Rwanda was no USA ´s business like Irak

I see no mention of the true respobsibles for Rwanda , the french government and the catholic church. Rwanda was no USA ´s business like Irak

Yes, it's always Whitey's fault.

I have not read the book but I have read Prunier's writings on Congo and Rwanda before, and he knows this part of Africa extremely well, better than almost any other scholar. There are remarkably few books on the Congo crisis, considering how many people it has killed, so this is especially welcome. However, judging from the amazon.com reviews and my readings of Prunier's earlier work, a good basic amount of knowledge of the region is essential in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the material.

Tyler,

I realize you read hundreds of books per year, but when writing about the books you've blasted through, you really need to slow down, explain what you learned from the book, and then tell us your opinion of it. If this book is really so good, then please summarize for us its main thesis. If you don't take 10 minutes to explain what you learned from the book, then it just seems like something that isn't worth us paying attention to, and you're just posting to show off how many books you read.

Tyler's posts on books often remind me of the old Woody Allen joke:

I took a speed reading class and then I read "War and Peace" in one day. It's about ... Russia.

Steve,

maybe Tyler is not really reading the books he mentions here, see http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2006/09/xxxx.html, the second last comment, by William Barnett:

"To: Tyler Cowen
I just provided your post to Blackwell. They say they have not yet sent advance copies to anyone, so you have not even seen the book that "bored" you. Evidently you saw my introduction, which is online and contains David Cass's quotation. You were on the list of economists who were to receive advance copies, but Blackwell has now decided to remove you from that list. If you would like to see the book, I regret to have to inform you that you will have to buy it. You can acquire a copy at a low price from Barnes & Noble, which is selling the paperback at a good price."

Tyler: Try to model yourself for a moment. You like subtlely and irony. Is it not possible that these characteristics make you overly susceptible to "Americans are so naive and simplistic -- let the worldly Frenchman explain how the (French-backed) rapacious murders are really victims of complex historical circumstances underpinned by American hegomony" takes on history?

"Steve Sailer's knowledge of this place is woefully low"

I take this as a given with nearly any topic I am unfamiliar. The few I have a decent background in that he has written about, he's been pretty badly wrong. Everything is a a nail to Sailer.

A note about the linked review:

Odom claims that in "early 1994" he offered to give a copy of the film "Congo" to a Zairian colonel. But the film was not released until June 1995.

Perhaps Odom cannot be trusted to be careful with his facts.

I quoted President Obama about the physical differences he noticed between the Luo ("tall, ink-black") and Kikuyu ("short, brown"). It's clear from reading "Dreams from My Father" that his Luo extended family despise the Kikuyu ruling caste. The Kikuyu insiders had his father's old boss Tom Mboya, the Economics minister, gunned down in front of Barack Obama Sr. on the street in 1969.

Arcane,
I'm sorry if you have poor reading skills. Why don't you re-read Sailer's comment again.

Sailer,
I'm not just referring to your comments in this thread. You have been opining on ethnic Kenyan issues on your own blog since Obama started his presidential campaign. It is clear from most of what you write that you are simply regurgitating things you have read somewhere and attempting to extrapolate on issues you are ill-formed about.

With respect to Steve Sailer's comments, Tutsis are not Nilotic. They do not speak a Nilotic language. (Kirundi and Kinyarwanda are both Bantu). I don't think it makes sense to view the Tutsi vs. Hutu conflict as part of some epic race war between Bantus and Nilotics.

As far as I can tell, Tutsi and Hutu appear to be arbitrary classifications. The colonialists would assign local inhabitants to one category or the other based on (a) how many cattle they owned and (b) how long their noses were. Needless to say, this doesn't seem particularly scientific.

I’ve always found it interesting to see how some of the people I respect spend their days (especially if they’re likely to be busy). Especially in your case Tim, since you’re living the 4 hour workweek. I’m still personally wrestling with being able to follow an unstructured schedule. It definitely means you can get a lot more done if you want but the ability to goof off for the day is also there which makes it that much more challenging. Website design company

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