August 2015 Book Club Selection

Angry Wind
Tayler, Jeffrey*: Angry Wind: Through Muslim Black Africa by Truck, Bus, Boat, and Camel (2005)

* RPCV Morocco (1988-1990)

Discussion: Tuesday, August 11, 2015, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Gabriella Maertens, 13302 NE Sacramento Dr in Portland, 503-254-5161. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Publishers Weekly: This engrossing narration of crossing the Sahel–the Saharan borderlands of Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Mali–by tortuous and frequently hair-raising local conveyances finds a barren, wind-scoured region, wracked by hunger, tribal conflict, animosity between Muslims and Christians and–a particular bane of wayfarers at border crossings–an infuriatingly corrupt and high-handed bureaucracy. Journalist Tayler (Glory in a Camel’s Eye) is guilt-stricken by the appalling poverty and enchanted with a Tuareg tribal sword dance (“This is how people were meant to live… shouting their joy into the wild night sky!”), but he generally avoids being overwhelmed by either the region’s problems or its exotic charms. Indeed, his critical perspective makes him an often cantankerous presence. Fluent in Arabic and French, he is drawn into debates about religion and politics (President Bush’s words and deeds are a favorite topic among Sahelian Muslims), skeptically cross-examines folklore about tourist spots, argues vehemently.with local defenders and Western relativists alike.against the persistent customs of slavery and female circumcision, and faces down bribe-hungry customs officials. Appreciative of the generosity and patience of the region’s long-suffering inhabitants, he also sees their cultures as bogged down by dogma and fatalism. Vividly written and trenchantly observed, Tayler’s account opens an everyday window on a world that the West normally confronts only in crisis.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Clackamas Co | Ft Vancouver | Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

July 2013 Book Club Selection

We Never Knew Exactly Where
Chilson, Peter*: We Never Knew Exactly Where: Dispatches from the Lost Country of Mali (2013)

* RPCV Niger (1985-1987)

Our discussion took place: July 2013. Participating in our discussion was CRPCA’s Peter Chilson, the book’s author.

Synopsis: What happens when a country suddenly splits in two? In 2012, Mali, once a poster child for African democracy, all but collapsed in a succession of coups and countercoups as Islamist rebels claimed control of the country’s north, making it a new safe haven for al Qaeda. Prizewinning author Peter Chilson became one of the few Westerners to travel to the conflict zone in the following months to document conditions on the ground. What he found was a hazy dividing line between the uncertain, demoralized remnants of Mali’s south and the new statelet formed in the north by jihadist fighters, who successfully commandeered a long-running rebellion by the country’s ethnic Tuareg minority to turn Mali into a new frontier in the fast-morphing global war on terror. Chilson’s definitive account — the first in the new Borderlands series of ebooks from Foreign Policy magazine and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting — is a gripping read, taking us back to the founding of French West Africa and right to the very front lines of this contentious new flashpoint.

Where to find it: Only available as an e-book: in Kindle format for Amazon devices; and as a PDF for other e-readers, tablets, and computers. The price is $4.99. Go to http://www.foreignpolicy.com/ebooks/we_never_knew_exactly_where, then either click the “Buy for Amazon Kindle” button or the “Buy the PDF version from FP here” link.