THE GRAVES ARE NOT YET FULL: Race, Tribe and Power in the Heart of Africa
"This is a book about evil." With these words, Berkeley launches into a gripping exploration of some of the worst African atrocities of the past 20 years, which he has covered as a journalist for the Atlantic Monthly and other publications. Focusing on several flash points—the genocide in Rwanda, the political violence in Zaire and South Africa's apartheid killings, for instance—he avers that the violence that has permeated these societies is born of the same evil that motivated Hitler to kill six million Jews: racially and ethnically based tyranny, which, he says, is the result of Western colonization, not "age-old" hatreds. Berkeley is at his best when he is reporting; he conducted interviews with African leaders, such as Liberia's Charles Taylor, with ordinary people and with high-level American officials involved in formulating African policy, like former Assistant Secretary of State Chester A. Crocker. He is particularly effective at pointing out the links between longstanding Western attitudes and policy and Africa's atrocities ("Tribalism solved the colonial dilemma of how to dominate and exploit vast numbers of indigenous inhabitants with a limited number of colonial agents"), and he shows how maniacal tyrants have exploited ethnic divisions. But the reader is still left wondering how so many people could have taken part in the mass killing of their own countrymen. Though Berkeley writes that "most African tribes live side by side without conflict," the book leaves the opposite impression. (Apr. 1)Forecast:This is one of several books about Africa due out this spring. Perhaps the critical mass will turn the interest of serious readers toward that strife-ridden continent.
Release date: 03/01/2001