Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary

Ernest Harsch. Ohio Univ., $16.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-8214-2126-0
This volume in the Ohio Short Histories of Africa series is the first biography in English of Sankara, who ruled Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987, though it is not an ideal introduction to his life. Harsch, a research scholar at Columbia University's Institute for African Studies, knew Sankara and prefaces his work by stating that while he does not "apologize for his sympathies" towards his subject, "he wishes to alert the reader that my interpretations may differ from those of scholars who were less favorable to Sankara's revolutionary outlook." Harsch traces Sankara's rise to power, his efforts to involve his countrymen in the work of government, and his challenges to world powers, such as the U.S., whose policies he opposed. While Harsch is generally positive in his depiction, he does note failings, such as Sankara's choice not to allow "elections to representative parliamentary bodies." Perhaps the book's biggest shortcoming is the absence of meaningful context; lay readers will have difficulties understanding Sankara's historical legacy or why he is relevant to understanding both contemporary sub-Saharan Africa and modern revolutionary movements. Illus. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/08/2014
Release date: 11/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 165 pages - 978-0-8214-4507-5
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