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The Zanzibar chest : a story of life, love,…
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The Zanzibar chest : a story of life, love, and death in foreign lands (original: 2003; edição: 2004)

de Aidan Hartley

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482951,722 (3.67)16
A hard-edged account of the micro wars of the early 1990s, seen through the eyes of a young correspondent. For us in this MTV generation, having the ghastly images we saw in the real world pumped out with a funky soundtrack expressed the drama of our lives in the way the deadpan news reports, diaries and letters home could not.… (mais)
Membro:s_paul
Título:The Zanzibar chest : a story of life, love, and death in foreign lands
Autores:Aidan Hartley
Informação:New York: Riverhead Books, 2004.
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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The Zanzibar Chest de Aidan Hartley (2003)

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"In his final days, Aidan Hartley's father said to him W-we never should have come." Those words spoke of a colonial legacy the stretched back through four generations of one British family living in Africa. In The Zanzibar Chest, Hartly as a frontline reporter who covered the atrocities of 1990s Africa, embarks on a journey to unlock the mysteries and secrets of that legacy, and deliver a beautiful, sometimes harrowing memoir of intrepid young men cut down before their prime, of forbidden love and its fatal consequences, and of family and history, and the collision of cultures that defined them both."
  iwb | May 18, 2023 |
This was a fantastic book, though I must admit parts of it are very tough to get through- more on that later. It is also really multiple stories combined into one book.
1. The title refers to a chest his father had with diaries and journals detailing his fathers work during the last 30 some years of British colonial rule in Africa and Yemen.
2. The book details the author's quest to travel to Yemen and learn as much as possible and see the location that make up his fathers friend's journal, and to learn how and why he died.
3. The author was a front line reporter who covered what happened in Somalia starting in 1990.
4. The author was front line reporting from the beginning on the genocide that took place in Rwanda.
It is # 3 and 4 that make this book a tough read, and the author himself says what he reported and has written for the book do even begin to convey the horrors he witnessed.
The majority of Africa went from being ruled by Europe and the people being treated like shit, to being ruled by dictators who the people either elected or who took over via a coup, and treated the people like shit. And when those leaders were toppled a new madman dictator took their place, to loot the country and treat the people like shit. This is why there are certainly no easy answers to fixing Africa, if in fact there is a fix.
What I liked about the author's perspective is that it wasn't sermonizing, it wasn't pointing the finger at just one group and saying Them, they are 5he reason the country is a mess. Everyone associated with the countries of Africa are to blame.
By the end of the book it is clear the author is suffering severe PTSD, but as this came out 12 years ago that tag wasn't used to label his condition.
If you want an introduction to the atrocities committed in Somalia and Rwanda, if you want an introduction to the good as well as the bad that the British contributed to Africa and Yemen, if you want a history lesson and an adventure, or if you want to be exposed to the pure evil the human race is capable of, read The Zanzibar Chest. ( )
  zmagic69 | Mar 19, 2017 |
This rating suffers because I don't think Hartley necessarily knew what he was onto at first--great stretches of this read like an "imperial family" memoir by one if its most insufferably smug scions, and much ore entertaining swathes like a foreign correspondent's memoir, which is much more interesting and colourful of course although also even more smug (the way he writes about his sexual "exploits" cannot be borne outside of fiction, and then there is also that awful subtitle), and there is a brief concern that he will go all torture porn on you, but no--i think this book was an attempt to write his way through the experiences that haunt and poison you--in Hartley's case, Rwanda, Somalia--until you know there's something fearsome that has emerged from inside you in response and is turning your dreams into fears. The fact that the only thing that makes that better is time, and then only if you give it air, and let it heal "very slowly, from the inside." And to get there he had to write through the other stuff. And while the combination makes for a much more unusual book, the way we get breezy and breezy and then the hard bulletin is not easy to take. But then it can't have been easy for the people who were there either, and certainly it makes me more capable of toughening up and handling my seventeen-hour cashless stint as a ghost in Addis Ababa airport, where it's so cold right now. ( )
  MeditationesMartini | Aug 12, 2012 |
There is a fair amount of reportage in this book, much of it harrowing although delivered with the nonchalance and detatchment of the war reporter, and yet one detects that the thick skin is somewhat cosmetic, self protective and indeed in due course it falls away. It is Hartley's inate love and empathy with Africa and Africans, and a hard earned camerarderie with the various hacks and rhino skinned media folk he falls in with, which lifts the writing above that of straight documentary. Whilst the title suggests this is the story of Peter Davey intertwined with the story of Hartley's father, these are anchors, and a constant reference and inspiration, for what is the story of Aidan Hartley and his Africa.
Hartley's fascination with Africa comes from a childhood spent listening to rich reminiscences of his parents and their friends, exotic tales of the late colonial period, of respect and adventure, and moreover of their love of the continent and its people. The trouble for Hartley is that he is attached to those stories ingrained in his physche but his African view is confusingly different as his days are spent in the immediate post colonial era with change and volatility all around. He comes to recognise the extent of change through the stoicism of his parents, and especially his father who is forced to adapt and although he is useful being fluent Swahili and a skilled negotiator with the Africans, his frustrations are there to see and feel and his reticence grows as nostalgia fades. Hartley finds himself sent to England for education and becomes influenced by the swinging sixties and intoxicated with social revolution though drawn inexorably back to Africa and as his age of responsibility dawns he descends into a seedy lifestyle avoiding the long shadow of a hero father. On discovering the 'Zanzibar chest' retained by his father containing the memoirs of a lifelong friend Peter Davey whose own life and times was inextricably connected to Hartley senior, it is in the finer details therein he begins to piece together the realities of the romanticised life of his father and his peers, a world of brave men, often harsh, often idyllic, sometimes secretive, always full of adventure. One can sense the frustration of being born into a time when opportunity for such adventure seems in the past and from Hartley's hedonistic, sleezy African existence of drink, drugs, prostitutes, and youthful high jinks, he is lost and the sense of inferiority is palpable. Redemption comes from the company he keeps and his inate African knowledge and instinct, and an articulate nature becomes a thing of value as a kindly hack sees the potential in Hartley and shows him the ropes of journalism and promotion of a story. In the ensuing years he finds himself bearing witness to the worst situations of conflict and famine, and finds his genetic bravery and attraction to risk takes him into the heat and heart of the story, into highly dangerous territory and in the company of equally dangerous people, and yet his survival instinct and no little luck leaves him largely unscathed. He falls in love only to ultimately realise the relationship only flourishes in the heightened state of imminent danger and enforced absences. Hartley's insights into the chaos of Somalia and what he describes as the human abattoir of Rwanda are especially heartbreaking and the losses and giving witness to unimaginable cruelty eventually take their toll. His honesty at feeling useless in the face of such tragedy is striking and bitter. Hartley stays close to his father throughout and it is through periodic reference of Davey's memoirs that he understands not only his father's sadness and longing but also makes some sense of the present, and it becomes clear that each man is yearning not for the good old days of colony but for those moments when cultures collide and magic is made and hope springs eternal. The only thing I missed was to know whether Hartley discussed his own experiences with his father and what he made of them. Perhaps they only needed look at each other. The book ends more or less where it began, and where his father left off, with Hartley living and working in rural Africa, and with optimism that the demons of both men may finally be behind them. ( )
  DekeDastardly | Sep 27, 2011 |
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From time to time, God causes men to be born - and thou art one of them - who have a lust to go abroad at the risk of their lives and discover news - today it may be of far-off things, tomorrow of some hidden mountain, and the next day of some nearby men who have done a foolishness against the state. These souls are very few; and of these few, not more than ten are of the best.

- Kim , by Rudyard Kipling
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To my wife and my mother
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My father was the closest thing I knew to the immortal.
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A hard-edged account of the micro wars of the early 1990s, seen through the eyes of a young correspondent. For us in this MTV generation, having the ghastly images we saw in the real world pumped out with a funky soundtrack expressed the drama of our lives in the way the deadpan news reports, diaries and letters home could not.

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