The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence - Martin Meredith Really interesting and well written, though quite often the sheer scope means that things are confusing and ocassionaly shallow. The best part is the first chapters, on the independence of African countries over the course 50s and 60s. It manages to really give a sense of the sheer epic scope of the end of colonialism, and the euphoric optimism that must have been in the air. The middle part is a bit less convincing, imo, tackling continent-wide political, economic and ideological trends. Theres simply too much variety. Finally, a major part is chapters about events largely in individual countries. Some are excellent (like South Africa) while others a bit less, at least for my particular attention span - the Rwanda Genocide/Congo Civil War/Central African War is way too big and complex for a few chapters.

I liked the focus on questions of economics and development, but I would have appreciated a bit more attention to culture and daily life, rather than just a relentless parade of corrupt politicians. Some of the most interesting bits came through the few times artists, journalists, etc were quoted, suggesting that people do live their lives over there somehow, seemingly often even in a socially and politically engaged manner. Otherwise, a good, super-big-picture overview.