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Kenya’s Dissident

Victoria Brittain, 3 June 1982

Devil on the Cross 
by Ngugi wa Thiongo.
Heinemann, 224 pp., £7.50, June 1982, 0 435 90200 8
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Detained: A Writer’s Prison Diary 
by Ngugi wa Thiongo.
Heinemann, 232 pp., £7.50, June 1981, 9780435906504
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Writers in Politics 
by Ngugi wa Thiongo.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £6.95, June 1981, 0 435 91752 8
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Ake: The Years of Childhood 
by Wole Soyinka.
Rex Collings, 230 pp., £7.50, August 1981, 0 86036 155 1
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... On 14 December 1978 small groups of people loomed out of the Kenya highland mist, as they headed down the narrow path churned into mud by the police truck which had brought Ngugi wa Thiongo home from the year in detention where he produced these books. Finding his house among the muddy maize plots north of Limuru, 20 miles from Nairobi, was easy: a single telephone-wire crossed the small-holdings and ended at his house ...

Uganda’s New Men

Victoria Brittain, 13 September 1990

... Entebbe Airport evokes the pointless murder of the elderly Israeli hostage, Dora Bloch; Lake Victoria those of the four Scandinavian joumalists who set out from Kenya by boat to scoop their media colleagues with reports of the fall of Amin in 1979; the forests by the side of the road to Kampala saw countless executions of unknown men by the thugs of ...

After Amin

Victoria Brittain, 17 September 1981

Uganda: A Modern History 
by Jan Jelmert Jorgensen.
Croom Helm, 384 pp., £13.95, May 1981, 0 85664 643 1
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Imperialism and Revolution in Uganda 
by Wadada Nabudere.
Onyx Press/Tanzania Publishing House, 376 pp., £14.25, March 1981, 0 906383 06 4
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... considerations which brought Britain to colonise Uganda in the 19th century. Lord Salisbury, Queen Victoria’s Conservative Prime Minister, put it like this: Administration of the country is not the sole or the main object that should interest us. It is our business in all these new countries to make smooth the paths for British commerce, British ...

Idi Roi

Victoria Brittain, 21 August 1980

Ghosts of Kampala: The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin 
by George Ivan Smith.
Weidenfeld, 198 pp., £7.95, June 1980, 0 297 77721 1
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African Upheavals since Independence 
by G.S. Ibingira.
Westview/Benn, 349 pp., £14.95, January 1980, 0 89158 585 0
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A Political History of Uganda 
by S.R. Karugire.
Heinemann, 240 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 435 94524 6
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... The eight-year regime of Idi Amin in Uganda will go down in history as one of the 20th-century’s horrors that could have been prevented. From Stalin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Macias Nguema’s Equatorial Guinea, the outside world was excluded, and was therefore relatively impotent and ignorant. That was not true of Uganda ...

It’ll all be over one day

James Meek: Our Man in Guantánamo, 8 June 2006

Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim’s Journey to Guantánamo and Back 
by Moazzam Begg and Victoria Brittain.
Free Press, 395 pp., £18.99, February 2006, 0 7432 8567 0
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... as having made ‘modest progress’ in ‘upholding pure, old-style Islamic virtues’ – and Victoria Brittain, a writer and journalist who has written with powerful effect against Guantánamo and is also an activist with the left-wing party Respect, which supports equality for women, abortion and gay rights. Poor editing and haste, rather than ...

Baghdad’s Ruling Cliques

Keith Kyle, 15 August 1991

The Iraqi Revolution of 1958: The Old Social Classes Revisited 
edited by Robert Fernea and William Roger Louis.
Tauris, 232 pp., £35, May 1991, 1 85043 318 6
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Instant Empire: Saddam Hussein’s Ambition for Iraq 
by Simon Henderson.
Mercury House, 271 pp., £8.99, June 1991, 1 56279 007 2
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Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography 
by Efraim Karsh and Inari Rautsi.
Brassey, 307 pp., £17.95, April 1991, 0 08 041326 9
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The Gulf Between Us: The Gulf War and Beyond 
edited by Victoria Brittain.
Virago, 186 pp., £5.99, June 1991, 1 85381 386 9
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Under Siege in Kuwait: A Survivor’s Story 
by Jadranka Porter.
Gollancz, 250 pp., £4.99, July 1991, 9780575051850
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... examined by a collection of writers in The Gulf between Us. The most notable gulf is that between Victoria Brittain’s introduction, which seems designed to prepare the way for a sustained polemic against the war and anything the Americans do in the region, and the quite different tone of the outstanding epilogue by Roger Owen, which, while starting off ...

God, what a victory!

Jeremy Harding, 10 February 1994

Martyr’s Day: Chronicle of Small War 
by Michael Kelly.
Macmillan, 354 pp., £16.99, October 1993, 0 333 60496 2
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Battling for News: The Rise of the Woman Reporter 
by Anne Sebba.
Hodder, 301 pp., £19.99, January 1994, 0 340 55599 8
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Women’s Letters in Wartime 
edited by Eva Figes.
Pandora, 304 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 04 440755 6
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The War at Sixteen: Autobiography, Vol. II 
by Julien Green, translated by Euan Cameron.
Marion Boyars, 207 pp., £19.95, November 1993, 0 7145 2969 9
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... fiery longevity is the nearest thing to a live link between Christine de Pisan and Kate Adie; Victoria Brittain, now deputy foreign editor of the Guardian, who left the US for Vietnam with a child in tow, in order to explore ‘a sort of obsession’; and, for a time, Marina Warner, who recounts how she stood on the road in Vietnam, after witnessing ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... and indefatigably-executed works of late 19th-century self-regard, comparable to the Victoria County Histories and the Survey of London. Year after year, at three-monthly intervals, the volumes plopped from the press, 63 in all, from Jacques Abbadie in 1885 to William Zuylestein in 1900, containing some thirty thousand pages on which 650 ...

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