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Read online or download a free book: Anthills Of The Savannah

Pages: 224

Language: English

Publisher: Anchor Books; Reissue edition (1 Jan. 1920)

By: Chinua Achebe(Author)

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A searing satire of political corruption and social injustice from the celebrated author of Things Fall Apart
In the fictional West African nation of Kangan, newly independent of British rule, the hopes and dreams of democracy have been quashed by a fierce military dictatorship. Chris Oriko is a member of the president's cabinet for life, and one of the leader's oldest friends. When the president is charged with censoring the opportunistic editor of the state-run newspaper--another childhood friend--Chris's loyalty and ideology are put to the test. The fate of Kangan hangs in the balance as tensions rise and a devious plot is set in motion to silence a firebrand critic.
From Chinua Achebe, the legendary author of Things Fall Apart, Anthills of the Savannah is "A vision of social change that strikes us with the force of prophecy" (USA Today).

This splendid short novel demonstrates Achebe's continuing ability to depict the challenges posed to African societies by modernism and Western influence. It details the plight of three educated, upper-class Africans attempting to survive in an atmosphere of political oppression and cultural confusion. Set in the fictional African country of Kangan, it is clearly patterned after Achebe's native Nigeria, though one can also see elements of Liberia and Ghana. This was the first Achebe novel I had read since his classic Things Fall Apart. At first, I thought that Anthills suffered in comparison with that masterpiece, arguably the best known and most influential African novel. After finishing the book, though, I realized that Achebe had very deftly returned to and updated the themes raised in that book. His protagonists are Ikem, a courageous and opinionated newspaper editor; Chris, his friend and predecessor as editor, now the somewhat-reluctant Commissioner of Information in a military-led government; and Beatrice, a brilliant, beautiful mid-level civil servant, also Chris's lover. Each studied abroad and is comfortable tossing off literary references and cultural cues from the West. At the same time, each is proud of and clearly shaped by his/her African heritage. Kangan is ruled by a smart but narrow-minded military officer who rose to power following a coup. "His Excellency" is also coincidentally and not at all implausibly an acquaintance of all three main characters, bringing a very personal dynamic to the struggles they face as Ikem sharpens his already bitter criticism of the government, to the professional discomfort of Chris and the personal alarm of Beatrice. I found the first half of the book a little hard to get through at times. The prose is often overwrought and the narrator changes from chapter to chapter, making it difficult to follow. Further complicating things is the frequent use of West African dialect, especially in dialogue between the lead characers and their less-westernized compatriots. While this brings a ring of authenticity to the work, it also requires close attention by non-African readers to divine the literal meaning of the deceptively familiar words. As the novel progresses, though, the confusing switch-off of narrators ends, the prose becomes sharper, and the storyline clearer. Achebe sprinkles humor liberally throughout the book. The characters serve up a steady stream of clever, expressive African aphorisms. The most memorable of these are delivered by a tribal elder from Abazon in an impromptu tribute to Ikem. Achebe also paints vivid and funny accounts of a monstrous traffic jam, a confrontation with soldiers at a checkpoint, and an up-country bustrip. those who have spent any significant time on the continent will nod their heads and chuckle at these uniquely African scenes. As in Things Fall Apart, the insidious influence of the West is depicted mostly indirectly. While there are no major European characters, the cynicism of Western expatriates and the cluelessness of Western journalists are reflected quite well in two minor characters, a British doctor who administers the local hospital and a visiting American reporter. More often, though, the specter of Western influence hovers in the background. One sees it in the alienation of the lead characters from their roots, most vividly in Beatrice's reminisces of her village childhood and university days in Britain. In the end, Achebe seems not so much to be blaming the West for Africa's problems as pointing out the ways in which, years after independence -- and even longer since things first "fell apart" -- African societies continue to struggle with the legacy of colonialism.

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Customer reviews:

  • By Mabs on 7 April 2013

    Interesting insight into African politics. Very plausible through well developed characters and plot. Use of pidgin and Igbo-inflected voices add to realism but difficult to understand fully.

  • By BisiLIFE on 1 May 2013

    If you would like to have insight into why Nigeria is the way it is, then this book is a must! Apart from the fact that Achebe is a beautiful and poet writer, this book sends the reader through the minds of those who desire to see their nation remove itself from the military and uneducated rulership that they find themselves in

  • By Jorgensen on 3 August 2009

    This is not a modern Classic, but an average story of coups in a banana republic. Though the prose is fine, there is nothing original or exiting about the story. The psychological perspective is shallow. The author tries to give a view of hipocrisy, power-awe, and changing attitudes as a response to power-balance shifts, but doesn't cut it. The educated reader will not be enlightened with respects to the Human Condition, nor History, the two themes that really entitle writing of novels.That said, a high-school level student would find it a good easy read with things to discuss during class.

  • By Rocke Harder on 7 August 2013

    The worth of a book has to be measured, in part, by whether it is worth reading - a good read in other words. This is not a particulary good read. There are passages which do pass the test as the dialogue flows and the characters come alive. But there are not enough of these and for too long the book wallows in a morass of political preaching.Saying this - I did obtain an insight into the development of the political tyrant:the ordinary man who is exalted to sudden power which ultimately corrupts and alters him. This aspect was expertly ddealt with.However, there is much that made the gears of this book grind to stuttering halts - not enough pace and vigour and too much sidelines of rhetoric.Not a great read but it did contain insights.

  • By Good living on 12 June 2013

    How can a country like Nigeria ever hope to be well governed - maybe helping to understand the basic problems will help any student of Nigerian Politics.

  • By Eddy on 3 November 2010

    I first read, "Things Fall Apart" and fell in love with Chinua Achebes writing style.As a 2nd gen Nigerian (in the UK) it means alot to me to be able to read and enjoy the workof a Nigerian author and this book was a pleasure to read. Arrived in good condition with onlyslight wear and tear as initially disclosed. Thanks amazon.

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