Best reads: Anthony Stidolph

2007-11-28 00:00

Often viewed as a mere sideshow to the main theatre of war in Europe, the 1914-1918 East Africa campaign has been largely neglected by historians even though it was, in its own way, every bit as bloody and awful as the battle on the Western Front. In Tip and Run: The Untold Tragedy of the Great War in Africa, author Edward Paice seeks to redress this inbalance, producing by far the most authorative, comprehensive, detailed — and readable — account of the conflict to date.

Very much a book of our times, Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist deliberately sets out to challenge our perspectives of the events surrounding 9/11 by looking at them through the eyes of a Pakistani immigrant living in New York. Provocative and revealing, the book may approach its subject matter from a fairly oblique angle but its brevity and concentrated economy belie the importance of its concerns.

Closer to home Lauren St John’s moving memoir, Rainbow’s End, describes how she and her somewhat dysfunctional family moved to a farm in the Hartley-Gadzema district of Rhodesia not long after its previous occupants had been brutally killed by members of Robert Mugabe’s Zanla forces. The book’s historical setting is evoked with authenticity but St John’s greatest attribute is her ability to combine a rich, lyrical prose style with a complelling account of what it was like growing up during the dying days of white rule.

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