10 books like Congo

By David Van Reybrouck,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Congo. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Emperor

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Book cover of The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat

All of Kapuscinski’s books are gems. He traveled Africa and other parts of the developing world as a Soviet journalist. The Emperor describes the rule and decline of the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie. The dry day-to-dry accounts of the emperor’s benign neglect for his people is chilling. Haile Selassie knew to keep those around him happy and not to worry about the people: “A man starved all his life will never rebel…. No one raised his voice or hand there. But just let the subject start to eat his fill and then try to take the bowl away, and immediately he rises in rebellion. The usefulness of hunger is that a hungry man thinks only of bread.”.

The Emperor

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Emperor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "sensitive, powerful ... history" (The New York Review of Books) of a man living amidst nearly unimaginable pomp and luxury while his people teetered netween hunger and starvation.

Haile Selassie, King of Kings, Elect of God, Lion of Judah, His Most Puissant Majesty and Distinguished Highness the Emperor of Ethiopia, reigned from 1930 until he was overthrown by the army in 1974. While the fighting still raged, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Poland's leading foreign correspondent, traveled to Ethiopia to seek out and interview Selassie's servants and closest associates on how the Emperor had ruled and why he fell. This is Kapuscinski's…


I Didn't Do It for You

By Michela Wrong,

Book cover of I Didn't Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation

Wrong’s account of Eritrea’s bid for independence from Ethiopia highlights the conflict between the needs of the people and the wants of leaders. The title of her book is taken from what a soldier liberating Ethiopia from Italian rule told a local and sets the tone of the book. Time and again Wrong describes how leaders will starve their own people or bomb their own soldiers provide it help keep them in power.

I Didn't Do It for You

By Michela Wrong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Didn't Do It for You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One small East African country embodies the battered history of the continent: patronised by colonialists, riven by civil war, confused by Cold War manoeuvring, proud, colorful, with Africa's best espresso and worst rail service. Michela Wrong brilliantly reveals the contradictions and comedy, past and present, of Eritrea.

Just as the beat of a butterfly's wings is said to cause hurricanes on the other side of the world, so the affairs of tiny Eritrea reverberate onto the agenda of superpower strategists. This new book on Africa is from the author of the critically acclaimed In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz.

Eritrea…


The Fate of Africa

By Martin Meredith,

Book cover of The Fate of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence

The breadth of Meredith’s book makes it a true masterpiece. He covers the political history of virtually every African state from independence through the end of the century. Each chapter is as compelling as it is brutal.

The Fate of Africa

By Martin Meredith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fate of Africa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 2005, The Fate of Africa was hailed by reviewers as "A masterpiece....The nonfiction book of the year" ( The New York Post ) "a magnificent achievement" ( Weekly Standard ) "a joy," ( Wall Street Journal ) and "one of the decade's most important works on Africa" ( Publishers Weekly , starred review). Now Martin Meredith has revised this classic history to incorporate important recent developments, including the Darfur crisis in Sudan, Robert Mugabe's continued destructive rule in Zimbabwe, controversies over Western aid and exploitation of Africa's resources, the growing importance and influence of China, and the…


Multi-party Politics in Kenya

By David Throup, Charles Hornsby,

Book cover of Multi-party Politics in Kenya

By far the most academic of our recommendations, Throup and Hornsby describe the constraints that having to hold an election imposes on leaders and, most tellingly, how easy leaders find it to flaunt these binds.

Multi-party Politics in Kenya

By David Throup, Charles Hornsby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Multi-party Politics in Kenya as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book uses the Kenyan political system to address issues relevant to recent political developments throughout Africa. The authors analyze the construction of the Moi state since 1978. They show the marginalization of Kikuyu interests as the political economy of Kenya has been reconstructed to benefit President Moi's Kalenjin people and their allies. Mounting Kikuyu dissatisfaction led to the growth of demands for multi-party democracy. The book places contemporary Kenyan politics and the 1992 election in their historical context, contrasting the present multi-party era with the previous one during the sixties. The authors question the hopes for a \u201csecond independence\u201d…


The Rwanda Crisis

By Gérard Prunier,

Book cover of The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide

So many books have been written about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda since this came out, but for me it still effortlessly holds its own: clear, accessible, immensely insightful in the way it traces cause and effect. Make sure you buy the second edition, though, as French historian Prunier revised some key views over the years, including his opinion on who brought down the plane in which two African presidents died – the incident that triggered the genocide. The book is the perfect companion piece for Prunier’s follow-up tome, which pans back to examine not just Rwanda but the entire Great Lakes region during the turbulent post-genocide years: “From Genocide to Continental War. The “Congolese” Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa.” 

The Rwanda Crisis

By Gérard Prunier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rwanda Crisis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1994 the tiny African nation of Rwanda exploded onto the international media stage, as internal strife reached genocidal proportions. But the horror that unfolded before our eyes had been building steadily for years before it captured the attention of the world. In The Rwanda Crisis, journalist and Africa scholar Gerard Prunier provides a historical perspective that Western readers need to understand how and why the brutal massacres of 800,000 Rwandese came to pass. Prunier shows how the events in Rwanda were part of a deadly logic, a plan that served central political and economic interests, rather…


God Sleeps in Rwanda

By Joseph Sebarenzi, Laura Mullane,

Book cover of God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation

The author, a Tutsi genocide survivor, was once a young Rwandan politician who deeply admired Paul Kagame and seemed destined for prominent public office. Instead, from his position as parliamentary speaker, he watched as his hero steadily emasculated the judiciary, undermined the country’s Hutu president – a symbol of ethnic reconciliation - and sabotaged parliamentary democracy itself,  eventually fleeing the country when his own life was threatened. His book not only offers great insights into the workings of village life in a tiny African country traumatized by its violent past, it’s a step-by-step analysis of how a dictatorship takes cynical, relentless hold.

God Sleeps in Rwanda

By Joseph Sebarenzi, Laura Mullane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God Sleeps in Rwanda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joseph Sebarenzi’s parents, seven siblings, and countless other family members were among 800,000 Tutsi brutally murdered over the course of ninety days in 1994 by extremist Rwandan Hutu—an efficiency that exceeded even that of the Nazi Holocaust. His father sent him away to school in Congo as a teenager, telling him, “If we are killed, you will survive.” When Sebarenzi returned to Rwanda after the genocide, he was elected speaker of parliament, only to be forced into a daring escape again when he learned he was the target of an assassination plot.

Poetic and deeply moving, God Sleeps in Rwanda…


Small Country

By Gaël Faye,

Book cover of Small Country

Sometimes fiction, with its knack for getting under the skin, is the best way of grasping the human impact of something as psychologically earth-shaking as mass murder. Set in the early 1990s, this novel’s narrator is the son of a French father and Rwandan mother, living in Bujumbura, just across the border from Rwanda. Inevitably the mass killings spill over into Burundi, exacerbating existing tensions between Hutus and Tutsis there and shattering an already precariously-poised family. I get the impression this book sold well in both French and English, and I’m not surprised. Under its deceptively simple surface, it packs a punch.

Small Country

By Gaël Faye,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Small Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An international sensation, Small Country is a beautiful but harrowing tale of coming-of-age in the face of civil war.

'A luminous debut novel...Faye dramatises the terrible nostalgia of having lost not only a childhood but also a whole world to war' Guardian

Burundi, 1992. For ten-year-old Gabriel, life in his comfortable expat neighbourhood of Bujumbura with his French father, Rwandan mother and little sister, Ana, is something close to paradise. These are happy, carefree days spent with his friends sneaking cigarettes and stealing mangoes, swimming in the lake and riding bikes in the streets they have turned into their kingdom.…


Kintu

By Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi,

Book cover of Kintu

A multi-generational novel which starts in 1750 with the heroic figure of Kintu, a provincial chief setting off with his entourage to pay ritual obeisance to the feared Kabaka (king), and culminates in bustling, hustling, modern Uganda. It’s an epic story that explores the imprint family bonds and ancestral legacies - including curses that travel down through the decades – leave on daily life. The kind of book which, because of its sheer heft, seems more than a little daunting at the start. But by the last page, you’re left wanting more, reluctant to have to say goodbye to all the characters you have come to know and love, hungry to know the end of their various journeys.  

Kintu

By Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kintu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017

Winner of the Windham-Campbell Prize

Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize


"A soaring and sublime epic. One of those great stories that was just waiting to be told."—Marlon James, Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings

First published in Kenya in 2014 to critical and popular acclaim, Kintu is a modern classic, a multilayered narrative that reimagines the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan. Divided into six sections, the novel begins in 1750, when Kintu Kidda sets out for the capital to pledge allegiance…


Travels in the Congo

By Andre Gide,

Book cover of Travels in the Congo

This travel diary by the Nobel Prize winning French writer was published in 1927 and expertly translated by his lifelong friend Dorothy Bussy. Gide dedicated his book and its sequel, Return from Chad, to Joseph Conrad, whose Congolese itinerary Gide retraced in part. In 1926 and 1927, the Frenchman spent ten months in Equatorial Africa with his lover Marc Alégret, making no secret of his sexual preference for young men and boys. In these travelogues, Gide fiercely criticized French colonialism and especially France’s “concessionary companies,” the large monopolistic firms that cruelly exploited Congolese laborers forced under inhuman conditions to harvest raw rubber. France’s Congo colony reproduced the excesses of its Belgian counterpart, despite the efforts of Gide and other prominent French figures to reform it.

Travels in the Congo

By Andre Gide,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Travels in the Congo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French


Lightning Flowers

By Katherine E. Standefer,

Book cover of Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life

Having been called an “enigma” by a doctor on more than one occasion, I know well the frustrating battle of rare medical conditions. What I like about this book is the way Standefer finds beauty and wonder in physical ailments. 

Standefer wasn’t struck by lightning; she has a heart defect that could kill her and leads to her being fitted with a defibrillator while she is still in her 20s. Instead of becoming a passive patient, Standefer questions everything about her condition from her treatment to the metal that is now inside of her, traveling as far as Africa to track down where the metal is mined. Ill health has not shrunk her world, it has expanded it, an inspiring outlook for anyone who has ever spent time as a patient.

Lightning Flowers

By Katherine E. Standefer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lightning Flowers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What if a lifesaving medical device causes loss of life along its supply chain? That's the question Katherine E. Standefer finds herself asking one night after being suddenly shocked by her implanted cardiac defibrillator.

In this gripping, intimate memoir about health, illness, and the invisible reverberating effects of our medical system, Standefer recounts the astonishing true story of the rare diagnosis that upended her rugged life in the mountains of Wyoming and sent her tumbling into a fraught maze of cardiology units, dramatic surgeries, and slow, painful recoveries. As her life increasingly comes to revolve around the internal defibrillator freshly…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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