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The Shadow of the Sun: My African Life by…
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The Shadow of the Sun: My African Life (original 1998; edition 2002)

by Ryszard Kapuscinski

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1,558436,934 (4.23)70
Member:matthilton
Title:The Shadow of the Sun: My African Life
Authors:Ryszard Kapuscinski
Info:Penguin Books, Limited (UK) (2002), Paperback, 336 pages
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The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuściński (1998)

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English (35)  Spanish (5)  Greek (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
This book was very much like finding a hidden treasure for me. From the very beginning paragraphs, I could already sense something very special. The author had an uncanny ability to let all your senses activate from his narrative descriptions. Not only could you "picture" the settings, you smell the dust, feel the humidity, even hear the silences. The book covers a great many parts of Africa over a series of years. Despite having already read some books about traveling across Africa and having watched several movies about bicycle and motorcycle treks across much of Africa, this book was a total revelation beyond what those other sources had provided. It's impossible to mention a favorite vignette. The bus ride where passengers have to counter lean together to avoid sliding off into an abyss? The hotel room literally pulsating with bugs? The town economy built on constantly and repeatedly rescuing motor vehicles from the depths of a mud hole? Or the many stories about the scalding hot Africa sun that makes your hands sweat just reading about it? Without question, I will reread this book before traveling to Africa...and I will undoubtedly take it along the journey to reread again along the way. Very highly recommended. ( )
1 vote larryerick | Apr 26, 2018 |
The author seemed to have been present at every major historical event in Africa in the latter half of the 20th century. Really pieced it together well. He was there in a broken down truck in the desert with little water, dodging snakes, or shivering with malaria. I started reading Dark Star Safari right after (and watched Blood Diamond, Last King of Scotland, and Hotel Rwanda) - Paul Theroux comes across like a namby pamby after this. This author told a badass adventure story (really no other word), but also effectively explained cultural norms all over the continent, strongly avoiding lumping everything into one "Africa". The 5-page introduction to Liberia and following chapter was my favorite. ( )
  mtdewrock | Dec 30, 2017 |
beginning with the jubilation surrounding Independence in Ghana and ending in Hell scapes of 90s Liberia and Eritrea, this is a fairly grim journalists travelogue in which most major countries of Africa are somewhat poetically described from the sixties through the mid-90s, notably absent being Congo and South Africa. good enough that I would read his other books ( )
  billt568 | Sep 5, 2017 |
I was reaching the final third of this book, filled with chronological ordered pieces spanning the author's career, thinking my review would speak about how the writing improves and improves and the stories are always meaningful but then ...

Then I read the piece about Liberia, in it there's a description of the torture, more precisely of the video showing the torture, of Samuel Doe, the local dictator. As terrible as the scene was, the writing is masterful so I decided to look for the video on youtube. And there's the video, and it barely resembles what Kapuscinki wrote. Where's the blood? the terrible screams? the looks of the soldiers? and so many other small details that are missing.

I know non-fiction is never 100% non-fiction, the author's point of view plays a role, etc. But this is too much, it made me wonder what was real and what not of the rest of the pieces, and sadly it will keep my away from the rest of, the once very promising, author's books. ( )
  emed0s | Jul 12, 2017 |
The continent is too large to describe. It is a veritable ocean, a separate planet, a varied, immensely rich cosmos. Only with the greatest simplification, for the sake of convenience, can we say "Africa." In reality, except as a geographical appellation, Africa does not exist.

Before reading this book, I was almost completely ignorant about everything-Africa. Now after reading, I'm aware of how much I still don't know. Kapuściński does a great job here, bringing awareness of the various cultures and people who are often oversimplified when referred to as Africans. He makes no pretenses on being a comprehensive authority on all things Africa, reiterating that the Africa he witnessed depended on the individuals he encountered. Nevertheless, his blend of anecdotal history in lyrical prose with factual history makes for a highly informative read, especially as an introduction to African culture. ( )
  kitzyl | Sep 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
As literature, “The Shadow of the Sun” is in its way magnificent. As analysis, it can be strange. Mr Kapuscinski's account of Idi Amin's rule is inaccurate and his history of Rwanda is botched. Mysteriously, he travels from Djibouti to Gondar by way of Ndjamena: two sides of a huge triangle. Mr Kapuscinski tells it as it felt, rather than as it was, describing—sometimes, it seems, distastefully relishing—whatever is bizarre, humiliating, disgusting, exotic.
added by Serviette | editThe Economist (Jun 28, 2001)
 
The word 'reportage' appears twice in the jacket endorsements of this fine narrative study of African events and people, of African conditions and geography, by Ryszard Kapuscinski. According to John le Carré, Kapuscinski is the 'conjurer extraordinary of modern reportage'. According to Michael Ignatieff, who is no slouch in the same department, he has raised reportage 'to the status of literature'.
added by Serviette | editThe Guardian, Ian Jack (Jun 3, 2001)
 
He is lyrically succinct - in the stupor of noon a village was "like a submarine at the bottom of the ocean: it was there, but it emitted no signals, soundless, motionless" - and often hysterically funny.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Guardian, Geoff Dyer (Jun 2, 2001)
 
Ryszard Kapuscinski has led an extraordinary life. Born in 1932 in the marshlands of eastern Poland and raised in poverty, he became, in the 1950's, Poland's most celebrated foreign correspondent. For decades he roamed the globe on a laughably tight budget, living mostly in Africa, Asia and Latin America, filing stories for the Polish press agency PAP. It was a hairy beat. According to his American publisher, Kapuscinski ''witnessed 27 coups and revolutions; and was sentenced to death four times.''
 
Mr. Kapuscinski never loses his affection for the people whose lives he witnesses or his awe at the magnificence of the African spectacle, its oceanic size and variety, the beauty of its landscapes, the heavy weight of its patience and its spirituality. But as the vignettes roll on one after the other, Africa, in Mr. Kapuscinski's version of it, becomes ever more afflicted, more of a disaster. We do not learn in this book what happened in Ghana after the first hopeful years, or what became of Mr. Baako, but in his fragmentary, episodic way, Mr. Kapuscinski shows a continent sliding into governmental gangsterism, dependence on foreign aid, murderous tyrannies and urban populations with nothing to do.
 

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ryszard Kapuścińskiprimary authorall editionscalculated
幸雄, 工藤Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glowczewska, KlaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mansberger Amorós, RobertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orzeszek, AgataTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679779078, Paperback)

When Africa makes international news, it is usually because war has broken out or some bizarre natural disaster has taken a large number of lives. Westerners are appallingly ignorant of Africa otherwise, a condition that the great Polish journalist and writer Ryszard Kapuœciñski helps remedy with this book based on observations gathered over more than four decades.

Kapuœciñski first went to Africa in 1957, a time pregnant with possibilities as one country after another declared independence from the European colonial powers. Those powers, he writes, had "crammed the approximately ten thousand kingdoms, federations, and stateless but independent tribal associations that existed on this continent in the middle of the nineteenth century within the borders of barely forty colonies." When independence came, old interethnic rivalries, long suppressed, bubbled up to the surface, and the continent was consumed in little wars of obscure origin, from caste-based massacres in Rwanda and ideological conflicts in Ethiopia to hit-and-run skirmishes among Tuaregs and Bantus on the edge of the Sahara. With independence, too, came the warlords, whose power across the continent derives from the control of food, water, and other life-and-death resources, and whose struggles among one another fuel the continent's seemingly endless civil wars. When the warlords "decide that everything worthy of plunder has been extracted," Kapuœciñski writes, wearily, they call a peace conference and are rewarded with credits and loans from the First World, which makes them richer and more powerful than ever, "because you can get significantly more from the World Bank than from your own starving kinsmen."

Constantly surprising and eye-opening, Kapuœciñski's book teaches us much about contemporary events and recent history in Africa. It is also further evidence for why he is considered to be one of the best journalists at work today. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:47 -0400)

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Kapu?ci?ski, a Polish reporter, writes about his experiences in Africa during the latter half of the 20th century.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140292624, 0141037709

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