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Hartley, An Acclaimed Frontline Reporter Who Covered The Atrocities Of S Africa, Embarks On A Journey To Unlock The Mysteries And Secrets Of His Own Family S Year Colonial Legacy In Africa A Beautiful, Sometimes Harrowing Memoir Of Intrepid Young Men Cut Down In Their Prime, Of Forbidden Love And Its Fatal Consequences, And Of Family And History And The Collision Of Cultures Over The Enduring Course Of British Colonialism In Africa That Defined Them Both


10 thoughts on “The Zanzibar Chest

  1. says:

    LA GRANDE DELUSIONEUna storia bellissima fatta di tante storie, tutte belle.Hartley un inglese nato in Kenia, cresciuto in Africa, un mzungu che ha studiato in Inghilterra, giovane reporter per l agenzia Reuters.Ama il continente africano, lo conosce, lo gira e rigira Da giornalista sul campo a raccontare e testimoniare le crisi economiche umanitarie e militari pi importanti degli ultimi due decenni.La sua famiglia ha alle spalle due secoli di storia coloniale in tutti i continenti, fra i suoi avi ci sono militari, funzionari pubblici, tecnici che hanno vissuto e lavorato in Africa, in Asia, nei Caraibi ecc.Un carissimo amico del padre ha lasciato un diario del suo lungo soggiorno ad Aden e Hartley parte per ricostruirne le vicende, cercarne la memoria Una bella storia che intreccia e collega tutte le altre.Un picaro in Africa, uno zingaro nel senso di un vagabondo, nel senso di un girovago.Ma Hartley esagera, non ha ritmo, caotico, a ogni cosa dedica al massimo un rigo e mezzo, affastella nomi date luoghi eventi fatti, esagera col succo e col colore, l esotico, il pittoresco Racconta cento storie tutte insieme, mentre io ne vorrei una alla volta, al massimo due non mi lascia tempo per riflettere, per assaporare, per memorizzare, un capoverso e sono gi sbattuto altrove come avere davanti a entrambi gli occhi un caleidoscopio che qualcuno gira troppo in fretta, e mentre dico aspetta , continua a girare senza sosta.Ma scrivere un altro mestiere E, appare chiaro, che essere giornalista non ti fa essere automaticamente buono scrittore.Un vero peccato, una grande delusione, avrebbe potuto essere un autentica goduria alla materia trattata darei anche mille stellette, ma al modo come Hartley scrive non se ne pu dare pi di una.Caro signor Hartley, anch io sarei fiero di un albero genealogico come il suo ma forse nel ripercorrere la storia coloniale del suo paese d origine, che non pu che essere storia d imperialismo, un tono un pochino matter of fact avrebbe giovato.


  2. says:

    To be completely honest, Aiden Hartley, although I envy his travels, is a pompous prick he wanders around Africa pretending that it is his, and yet knows nothing of the people he lives with He hangs out with white people in white bars, and is essentially a whiny ex pat child even though he was born in Kenya And then Ex pats of every culture wonder why everyone hates them It s because of people like Aiden Hartley.


  3. says:

    I found this book to be absolutely riveting Hartley has actually related two tales here, one detailing his quest to shed some light on the circumstances surrounding the death of his father s friend Peter Davey the other tale relates Hartley s own story from his education abroad to his misadventures as a foreign war correspondent for the Reuters news agency As a journalist, he was dispatched to the world s hotspots Croatia, Somalia, and Rwanda being foremost in my memory He broke bread and rubbed shoulders with murderers and generals, nurses and nuns He has witnessed inhumanity on such a grand scale that it s a wonder that he can even string sentences together today He has attended far too many funerals for a man his age.Hartley is African, born in Kenya and residing there to this day, so he can write about events on that continent with a legitimacy that a foreigner might lack While he may be judgemental, he is compassionately so He hides nothing from the reader, and relates his own faults and failings as readily as he points out flaws in others He spares no detail, so the squeamish may be turned off by this book.The reader will learn some things about journalism and the news networks, or perhaps have their worst suspicions confirmed what is reported as fact is often untrue or twisted by the network in order to draw viewers or readers One miracle child pulled from a pile of quicklimed bodies in a mass grave in Rwanda expired that very night, but was reported alive afterward in order to generate interest and retain an audience When one of a famous actresses photographers stepped on the arm of a malnourished child, it was kept out of the news as bad publicity.The book has some flaws, a bit of sloppiness perhaps The Canadian Royal Air Force he refers to on page 372 does not exist it s the Royal Canadian Air Force The way Hartley wrote it makes a proud military unit seem like a subsidiary of the Royal Air Force And I would love to know what a short muzzle Enfield rifle is p.416 Presumably he refers to the old SMLEthe M stands for magazine, not muzzle There are some photos scattered throughout the book, but regrettably none of them are captioned so I was never sure of who or what was in the photo But while they are a minor annoyance, the flaws do not significantly detract from what is a great book written by a man who was eyewitness to some of the most horrific events in history.


  4. says:

    The author delivers a book that will stay with me long after the last page is turned One quarter travelogue, another family history and the other half memoirs the author shows us Africa in all it s brutality and sadness Not what I was expecting but an essential read to remind us what we should not forget.


  5. says:

    In many ways, this is a 5 star book Horrifying, inspiring, bloody, real Once I got sucked in, I wanted to read this book every single minute and at the same time toss aside my peaceful, happy life and do what I already knew that I wanted to do For me, reading this book was both utterly absorbing and incredibly painful how could I bear to sit and read when there is SO MUCH going on out there Out there, you know, the greater world, adventure, war, sex drugs and rock and roll that familiar joint pull to your chest and gut that good movies and books do so well Hartley charts his family history as intertwined with the rise and fall of the old British empire Throughout, he mixes in his own story born in Kenya, educated in England yawn , and finally a war correspondent for Reuters in Africa through the 1990s You know what that means If you don t, here s a start Famine in Ethiopia State collapse in Somalia Genocide in Rwanda And you know what, it s not Africa, but what the heck, let s through a little bit of Serbia during the Balkan Wars in there too He sees, and does, it all And writes honestly about it One of the strengths of this book, aside from engrossing storytelling Which Is Amazing , is Hartley s brutal honesty when exposing the idiocy of the current international system news companies, aid agencies, religious organizations, the military being a Brit, he is naturally hard on the American military which is probably 100% deserved as you will see , even the much revered UN and African Union formerly the OAU Oddly enough, he didn t seem quite as realistically critical of the British Empire those criticisms seemed much philosophical to me But now I m rambling.Hartley s good writing is 5 stars all around, up and down I found the book a bit flawed for me, the side story of a family friend in Yemen lacked meaning, his own sort of bragging through the first few chapters, and his family history almost meant I didn t make it to the meat of the book Hartley s adult life I wanted to tear through sections in haste so I could get back to what I liked I must admit, however, that the book is almost even lovable because of this It becomes real.


  6. says:

    Classic, absolutely classic memoir of a very fulfilled life Part of the narrative was as good as the Heart of Darkness What a story, kept me captivated and engaged throughout the 440 odd pages For me the most interesting aspect was the self reflection of the White colonisation of Africa I tend to agree with Hartley s dad They should have never gone into Africa Whence gone in they should never have left it Arabs colonised Africa before the Europeans, and they stayed on, slowly converting the local cultures to Islam Now it is impossible to differentiate between the two races in Africa This book is a homage to the few but extremely courageous Europeans who decided to stay on, long after their mother ship had decided to go back Aidan s experiences in some of the most vile and despicable massacres in Africa clearly demonstrates the important role of white man still has in controlling human disasters on unimaginable scale in Africa Perhaps the most important insight I have had from the book is the working of the Western media when covering human catastrophes, where there is an implicit policy of fitting the pigeon holes of the Charities, reader s fatigue, and stock market reactions It does seem like that traditional media has become pretty ineffective and needs to be completely redefined.Read the book if you want to witness the real face of human nature.


  7. says:

    In the first 20 or so pages I was grumbling as I found myself drowning in adjectives Though, as Hartley hits his stride, the prose loses the overwritten feel and develops into a very fine book I m not sure he needed the device of the Zanzibar chest as a framing tool It s almost insecurity Almost like he didn t think the true stories of an intrepid reporter in the middle of the worst of the worst atrocities in Mogadishu and Rwanda would hold the reader s interest so he needed to spice it up with this fable like construction that almost acted as a speed bump for me I m not exactly sure how I would ve structured it differently as I wouldn t want to lose the story of his father and Davey, but the way it wove in and out of Aidan s story was often awkward Basically, I think he needed a better editor The Somalia and Rwanda sections, in particular, were amazing and didn t need some cutesy narrative device I don t think I agree that Aidan seems disconnected from Africans I think that s a hard argument to make after reading the book Colonialism, on the other hand, is an interesting character throughout While the, we should never have come here thread is strong at time he waivers in Somalia, as he thinks colonialism is exactly what is necessary to end the killing There is sincere hope that the Americans will bring with them, ultimately, ballot boxes and hospitals After reading a book like King Leopold s Ghost, one sort of winces at any statement that s even vaguely pro colonial, but he s certainly right In Rwanda or Mogadishu, there is certainly a compelling moral argument for international intervention of some kind.


  8. says:

    While the first 100 pages or so were hard to get through due to the boasting tone Hartley took as he listed off all of his adventurous British ancestors, this changed as he began writing about his own experiences as a reporter in Africa His account of this time was amplified due to him being witness to or involved in every major conflict to grip Africa in the late 80s and 90s Ethiopa, Rwanda, Somalia they are all here and in a vivid detail I had not encountered before.What makes Hartley s writing so compelling is the brutal honesty He spares no one, not even himself He lays bare his own weaknesses, dalliances, and regrets He also pulls no punches when it comes to those around him Most novel for me was to hear him lay the blame for the conflicts he saw squarely at the feet of the participants While he did call out the UN and some multinational forces for mismanagement, inefficiency, and unrealistic goals he focused his blame for the root cause of the problems the UN was trying to fix on the Africans Some of his descriptions of life in Somalia, and the mindset of a Somali tribal fighter, were truly mind boggling His account of the Rwandan genocide was harrowing, and will stay with me.Given such powerful stories, the other narrative he weaves throughout the book his attempt to piece together the life of his father s friend pales in comparison I m sure it was an important journey for him personally, but it is difficult to connect with.Overall a great read after page 100 I couldn t put it down.


  9. says:

    Anecdotally driven account of Hartley s experiences as a reporter in Africa in the 1990s, framed by his family s generations of British colonial service in India, Aden, Kenya and Arabia and his own coming of age during decolonization and the political repercussions of 1989 Soviet withdrawal from Africa Part of the power of this book is inadvertent, as the Hartley insists that he is from Kenya, the it is clear that ex pats may be from a place, but never really of it.


  10. says:

    Very good Different and disturbing, but an excellent book.