I Didn't Do It for You
How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation
By Michela Wrong
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780060780920, 448pp.)
Publication Date: June 1, 2005
List Price: $25.95*
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Scarred by decades of conflict and occupation, the craggy African nation of Eritrea has weathered the world's longest-running guerrilla war. The dogged determination that secured victory against Ethiopia, its giant neighbor, is woven into the national psyche, the product of a series of cynical foreign interventions. Fascist Italy wanted Eritrea as the springboard for a new, racially pure Roman empire, Britain sold off its industry for scrap, the United States needed a base for its state-of-the-art spy station, and the Soviet Union used it as a pawn in a proxy war.
Michela Wrong reveals the breathtaking abuses this tiny nation has suffered and, with the sharp eye for detail and taste for the incongruous that was the hallmark of her account of Mobutu's Congo, tells the story of colonialism itself. Along the way, we meet a formidable African emperor, a pigheaded English suffragette, and a guerrilla fighter who taught himself French cuisine in the bush.
Michela Wrong tells this devastating but important story with exemplary clarity. The way international power politics can play havoc with a country's destiny gives the story of Eritrea a resonance and a tragic dimension beyond imagining.