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"Thirty Girls" is a novel about war in Africa. It is a war that escapes American thought and action. One suspects American’ apathy is related to economics, but like conflict in the Middle East, it seems unlikely American involvement will make much difference. "Thirty Girls" is off-putting in the beginning because it appears Susan Minot is comparing a troubled tryst with kidnapping of 139 girls in Uganda, a real event in 1996, called the Aboke’ abductions. By the end of the story, a more complicated tragedy is bluntly revealed.
Africa is a nation of great beauty and potential wealth. However, its beauty is marred by war and its wealth; i.e. wealth distributed between a multitudinous poor and a rich minority. Africa is fighting for its own identity while stumbling over poverty and education. Minot illustrates how Africa has many of the cultural maladies of the Middle East.
The hard road to freedom for Africa is only at its beginning. In the interest of freedom, it seems the best America may do is support education for African children and let history take its course. As depressing as that course of inaction may be, one wonders if that is not equally true in the Middle East.