by John Gunther ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 30, 1955
This is perhaps Mr. Gunther's best book. Once again he astounds us with his immense capacity for absorption of vast areas of information, and his unique ability to organize this material into integrated form, which any intelligent reader can compass. His is, this time, an even more difficult task, for the apathy of the reading public towards Africa is only beginning to be pierced. And yet he has done it again. He has given us Africa today, yesterday, and potentially tomorrow,- the North and the East, the South and the West. He has explored its checkered history, the role played by the British (who have done, he feels, the best Job in preparing Africans for self government -- though their pace is too slow for the current surge of nationalism); the French, with their none too successful policy of assimilation; the minor parts played by Spain, Belgium, Portugal. He studies potential revolutionary conditions in Mediterranean French Africa; the burgeoning nationalism of Egypt under brilliant leadership; then repression dominant in South Africa and the Congo, the outbreak of violence in Kenya, the factional difficulties of the independent states, desperately trying to bridge the vast gap from feudalism to modern administration. There is vitality, a yeast of turbulent life, in a vast area that is only newly important to the stream of world history. Federation is beginning to work in Central Africa, but seems doubtful elsewhere as yet. Colonial rule is on the way out, but Africa is not yet ready to control its own destinies. Education and economic development have lagged behind the political upsurge. And almost everywhere, the race relations provide friction. On the whole, while recognizing the Communist problem, Mr. Gunther feels that the trend is leftish but that the Soviet prefers countries after they achieve national independence, and that Africarich prize that it is- is not on the Soviet agenda. There is propaganda, there is recurrent effort to stir up resentment against the colonial powers, to support grievances. The best defense is better government. American policy is weighed- and found wanting, and Mr. Gunther is unquestionably critical of the truncated Point Four program. He urges that we not let Africa go by default. An immensely readable book, with enough of human interest in the superb pen portraits of the leading figures, and enough of personal experience to prevent it from being a cold compendium of facts. This should provide anyone interested with a better than adequate groundwork. An extraordinary bibliography provides channels for further exploration.
Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1955
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955
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