Radio Congo by Ben Rawlence
Signals of Hope from Africa's Deadliest War

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Synopsis

While poring over dust-caked pamphlets in the library, Ben Rawlence stumbles upon the photo of a lost city of colonial Congo--a glistening, modern metropolis built by huge tin mines and European capitalists. Today, that city, Manono, sits beyond the infamous “Triangle of Death,” in an area rarely reached by outsiders since war turned the country’s rivers to blood.

In this compelling debut, Rawlence sets out to gather the news from this ghost town in one of the most dangerous places in the world. Ignoring the advice of locals, reporters, and mercenaries, he travels by foot, motorbike, and canoe, taking his time and meeting the people who are rebuilding their homes with hope, faith, and nervous instinct. We meet Benjamin, the kindly father of the most terrifying Mai Mai warlord; Leya, who happily gives up a good job in Zambia to return to her razed town; Colonel Ibrahim, a guerrilla turned army officer; the Lebanese cousins Mohammed and Mohammed, who oversee the remains of Manono’s great mine; the priest Jean-Baptiste, who explains the conjoined prices of beer and normality; and the talk-show host Mama Christine, who dispenses counsel and courage in equal measure.

From the “blood cheese” of Goma to the decaying city of Manono, Rawlence shares the real story of Congo during and after the war, and finds not just a lost city but the seeds of a peaceful future.
 

About Ben Rawlence

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Ben Rawlence is a senior researcher on Africa for Human Rights Watch. He has written for The Huffington Post, Guardian, Prospect magazine, London Review of Books, and others and contributed to BBC radio. Fluent in Swahili, he received his master's in international relations from the University of Chicago. He travels regularly to London, New York, and Africa as part of his investigative work for Human Rights Watch.
 
Published March 19, 2013 by Oneworld Publications. 320 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Radio Congo

Kirkus Reviews

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With Congo at peace for less than a decade now, Rawlence, a senior researcher on Africa for Human Rights Watch, was finally able to explore the country, and he describes Congo as nothing less than “the most fascinating, beguiling, and…misunderstood country on the continent.” After looking back on...

Oct 17 2012 | Read Full Review of Radio Congo: Signals of Hope ...

Publishers Weekly

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Though this travel memoir concerns a trip into what could be called the “heart” of Congo, Human Rights Watch researcher Rawlence is determined to avoid cliché. Less predictably, this account of a 2007

Sep 28 2012 | Read Full Review of Radio Congo: Signals of Hope ...

Publishers Weekly

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Less predictably, this account of a 2007 trip through the troubled, postwar nation begins with Swedish crime novelist Henning Mankell’s point that too many Europeans “only know how Africans are dying, not how they live.” It’s in service of that idea that the author sketches the Congolese ...

Oct 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Radio Congo: Signals of Hope ...

We Love This Book

Travelling through a country that has mutated from The Belgian Congo, through to Zaire, to what is now a Democratic Republic, is Rawlence foolhardy or brave?

Jun 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Radio Congo: Signals of Hope ...

Think Africa Press

Full of revealing conversations with locals, Ben Rawlence's thoughtful and absorbing new book offers an alternative picture of the DRC.

Sep 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Radio Congo: Signals of Hope ...

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