In A Continent for the Taking Howard W. French, a veteran correspondent for The New York Times, gives a compelling firsthand account of some of Africa’s most devastating recent history–from the fall of Mobutu Sese Seko, to Charles Taylor’s arrival in Monrovia, to the genocide in Rwanda and the Congo that left millions dead. Blending eyewitness reportage with rich historical insight, French searches deeply into the causes of today’s events, illuminating the debilitating legacy of colonization and the abiding hypocrisy and inhumanity of both Western and African political leaders.
While he captures the tragedies that have repeatedly befallen Africa’s peoples, French also opens our eyes to the immense possibility that lies in Africa’s complexity, diversity, and myriad cultural strengths. The culmination of twenty-five years of passionate exploration and understanding, this is a powerful and ultimately hopeful book about a fascinating and misunderstood continent.
“A brilliant and nuanced meditation on the complexities of contemporary Africa. Essential reading for those of us who love Africa and for all those who wish to gain a fuller understanding of a continent that is sprawling, mysterious, and endlessly fascinating. Howard French’s voice is both fresh and enlightening.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
“Vivid, disquieting. . . . French’s engagement with the continent goes far deeper than most Africa-based correspondents.” —Washington Monthly
“Remarkable. . . . This deeply empathetic account of a region in crisis deserves to be read widely.” —Foreign Affairs
“Exhilarating for its frankness. . . . A triumph of passionate reporting.” —The New York Review of Books
“A passionate, heartbreaking, and ultimately heartbroken book. . . . [French] has a deeper and more profound connection to the continent than most journalists.” —The Nation
“Persuasive. . . . The tone is grim, but French also finds an unquenchable African spirit.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Even when you‘ve been there or know the basic facts, Howard French takes you to Africa in a way you've never been taken before. His superb writing, his keen insight and passion-driven analysis combine to make A Continent for the Taking a great read for those who find the continent as fasinating as he does, as well as for those who need to know why we do.” —Charlayne Hunter Gault , author of In My Place
“French’s great advantage in telling his tale is his depth of perspective. . . . Rare is the book on Africa that gets passed around among policymakers in Washington–we can only hope this becomes one of them.”—St. Petersburg Times
“Lively . . . vivid . . . This is the best book about Africa to come out in some time.” —Chicago Tribune
“An often riveting eyewitness account of the chaos enveloping West Africa in the 1990s.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Many Western narratives tend to exonerate the West for Africa’s seemingly endless woes, placing blame squarely on the continent. Some African accounts tend to blame the West entirely. Howard French strikes the right balance, showing that Africa’s ills are rooted in internal and external factors but which are clearly linked.”—Ngugi wa Thiong’o, author of Weep Not, Child
WINNER 2014 - YALSA Best Books for Young Adults
Howard W. French is a senior writer for the New York Times. After teaching at the University of Ivory Coast in the early 1980s, he began his journalism career writing about Africa for the Washington Post, Africa News, The Economist and numerous other publications. Since 1986, he has reported for the Times from Central America, the Caribbean, West and Central Africa, Japan, Korea, and now China. In 1997, his coverage of the fall of Mobuto Sese Seko won the Overseas Press Club of America’s award for best newspaper interpretation of foreign affairs. French was born in Washington, D.C., and now lives in Shanghai with his wife and their two children.