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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Olu on 11-28-12
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.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful
By Nnaemeka Chukka on 05-11-16
A mockery of a person that speaks igbo
The narrator did not in opinion did not consult an igbo speaking person to learn the words pronunciation in the content of a well beautiful writing by a renowned brilliant writer Chinua Achebe. It makes me angry to listen to the book demolished by the narrator. Please for the sake of the heroic writer find someone to re-narrate the book. For a person like me who is from the village and town its annoying. Please forgive me passion the may be prejudicial on the review.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful