There Was a Country

  • by Chinua Achebe
  • Narrated by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
  • 9 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the legendary author of Things Fall Apart comes a long-awaited memoir about coming of age with a fragile new nation, then watching it torn asunder in a tragic civil war.
The defining experience of Chinua Achebe's life was the Nigerian civil war, also known as the Biafran War, of 1967-1970. The conflict was infamous for its savage impact on the Biafran people, Chinua Achebe's people, many of whom were starved to death after the Nigerian government blockaded their borders. By then, Chinua Achebe was already a world-renowned novelist, with a young family to protect. He took the Biafran side in the conflict and served his government as a roving cultural ambassador, from which vantage he absorbed the war's full horror. Immediately after, Achebe took refuge in an academic post in the United States, and for more than 40 years he has maintained a considered silence on the events of those terrible years, addressing them only obliquely through his poetry. Now, decades in the making, comes a towering reckoning with one of modern Africa's most fateful events, from a writer whose words and courage have left an enduring stamp on world literature.
Achebe masterfully relates his experience, both as he lived it and how he has come to understand it. He begins his story with Nigeria's birth pangs and the story of his own upbringing as a man and as a writer so that we might come to understand the country's promise, which turned to horror when the hot winds of hatred began to stir. To read There Was a Country is to be powerfully reminded that artists have a particular obligation, especially during a time of war. All writers, Achebe argues, should be committed writers - they should speak for their history, their beliefs, and their people.
Marrying history and memoir, poetry and prose, There Was a Country is a distillation of vivid firsthand observation and 40 years of research and reflection. Wise, humane, and authoritative, it will stand as definitive and reinforce Achebe's place as one of the most vital literary and moral voices of our age.
"1966", "Benin Road", "Penalty of Godhead", "Generation Gap", "Biafra, 1969", "A Mother in a Refugee Camp", "The First Shot", "Air Raid", "Mango Seedling", "We Laughed at Him", "Vultures", and "After a War" from Collected Poems by Chinua Achebe. Copyright 1971, 1973, 2004 by Chinua Achebe. Used by permission of Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc. and The Wylie Agency, LLC.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Audible Edition Is a Disaster

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Mr. Akinnuoye-Agbaje, a non-Igbo speaker who simply happens to be of Nigerian-descent, manages to mispronounce every Igbo word in the book, making it a particularly painful experience to listen to his reading. It wouldn't have required much to learn how to pronounce these words properly, without which their meanings are lost. I'll be exploring the possibility of getting my money back. There's no imaginable reason why an Igbo speaker could not have been recruited to read this book for Audible. That this was not the case is simply inexcusable.


What didn’t you like about Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s performance?

His pronunciation of Igbo words are embarrassingly silly, to put it mildly.


You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I own both the British and American hardback editions, so, of course, i think the book is brilliant. But I could not suffer through the very first few minutes of the reader's performance.


Any additional comments?

Audible should withdraw this disaster, and have a native speaker of Achebe's language read the book.

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- Olu Oguibe

Tell your story.

The narrator didn't do justice to the pronunciation of the Igbo words but apart from that it was good. There were funny moments but it is indeed a serious story and I got a message from it. My most memorable moment was when the reader read about the triumph of the written word and this book did triumph for me in that sense.
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- oluchi ndukwe

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-11-2012
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio