Africa | Granta

  • Published: 02/01/2014
  • ISBN: 9781846273148
  • Granta Books
  • 672 pages


Richard Dowden

A revised and updated edition of the landmark book about the miraculous continent by the finest living Africa correspondent.

Every time you try to say ‘Africa is…’ the words crumble and break. From every generalisation you must exclude at least five countries. And just as you think you’ve nailed down a certainty, you find the opposite is also true. Africa is full of surprises.

For the past three decades, Richard Dowden has travelled this vast and varied continent, listening, learning, and constantly re-evaluating all he thinks he knows. Country by country, he has sought out the local and the personal, the incidents, actions, and characters to tell a story of modern sub-Saharan Africa – an area affected by poverty, disease and war, but also a place of breathtaking beauty, generosity and possibility. The result is a landmark book, compelling, illuminating, and always surprising.

This revised edition has an additional chapter on Ethiopia and has been updated throughout to reflect changes such as the death of Mandela and the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. It also includes two new maps and a new final chapter considering the shape of Africa’s future.

Few journalists have travelled in Africa so widely for so long; few can match his enthusiasm, his indefatigable quest for knowledge and his zeal to impart it

Michael Holman, Literary Review

Mr Dowden maintains the reader's interest by skilfully interweaving his research on the economic effects of Aids and international aid into stories of myriad encounters with Africans rich and poor

The Economist

A wise, compassionate and understanding account of Africa, written by a man who has glimpsed deeper truths about the continent; truths that we need to know ... Dowden merits the title of "spokesman" for Africa. This book is an inspiring gift of hope about a continent that never ceases to surprise

Bishop Trevor Mwamba, The Times

The Author

Richard Dowden was Executive Director of the Royal African Society from 2002 to 2017. Dowden spent a decade as Africa Editor of the Independent, and then another decade as Africa Editor of The Economist. Few writing in English now have had more experience of life as it is lived in a wide variety of African communities. He has made three television documentaries on Africa, for the BBC and Channel 4.

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