No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…Find out more
Michela Wrong is a distinguished international journalist, and has worked as a foreign correspondent covering events across the African continent for Reuters, the BBC and the Financial Times. She writes regularly for the New Statesman. Based on her experiences in Africa, In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz, her first book, won the PEN James Sterne Prize for non-fiction.
There are times when reading Do Not Disturb that you have to pinch yourself to remind you that, although a thriller, it is not made up: It is all real. All true. The murders are of real people. The fear and paranoia of friends and families is real. They are living in the presence of real danger. Criticism of President Kagame of Rwanda, once the darling of the West, will do that. It will force you to go into hiding. It will make you a subject of oppressive surveillance. In the case of Paul Rusesabagina, humanitarian hero of the film Hotel Rwanda, it will get you tricked onto a plane, drugged, renditioned, tortured and imprisoned. It can, and often will, get you killed. When the ubiquitous hotel door sign of the title is used to conceal the killing of a former member of Rwanda’s inner circle, the trails of evidence, methodically and minutely tracked by Wrong over many years and countless interviews, lead straight to Kagame. As Wrong strips away the glossy window dressing from the so-called “Singapore of Africa,” she reveals a nation run by brutal thugs; a supposed economic miracle, dependant on western support, which suppresses the true scale of the hunger, poor health and fear of an uncountable number of its inhabitants. Long admired for her fearless reportage, Wrong has written a crisp, insightful - and importantly - honest, account of institutionalised, no… weaponised national lying. In doing so she has exposed an appalling truth: that Rwanda’s elite have manipulated global shame and compassion to run an entire country with mafia-like grip and murderous avarice, immorality and illegality. By laying bare the bones of a brutal, merciless dictator, driven by Imperial grade fear, greed and the insecurity of shallow ego, Wrong has documented despotism in all its appalling hideousness. We should care very deeply, as Rwanda is a member nation of the Commonwealth.
A new book from the award winning author of In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz, Do Not Disturb explores the controversial career of Paul Kagame and the legacy of the Rwandan genocide Do Not Disturb is a dramatic recasting of the modern history of Africa's Great Lakes region, an area blighted by the greatest genocide of the twentieth century. This bold retelling, vividly sourced by direct testimony from key participants, tears up the traditional script. In the old version, an idealistic group of young rebels overthrows a genocidal regime in Kigali, ushering in an era of peace and stability that makes Rwanda the donor darling of the West, winning comparisons with Switzerland and Singapore. The new version examines afresh questions which dog the recent past: Why do so many ex-rebels scoff at official explanations of who fired the missile that killed the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi? Why didn't the mass killings end when the rebels took control? Why did those same rebels, victory secured, turn so ruthlessly on one another? Michela Wrong uses the story of Patrick Karegeya, once Rwanda's head of external intelligence and a quicksilver operator of supple charm, to paint the portrait of a modern African dictatorship created in the chilling likeness of Paul Kagame, the president who sanctioned his former friend's murder.
The debut novel by a British writer with nearly two decades of African experience - a compelling courtroom drama and a gritty, aromatic evocation of place, inspired by recent events. British lawyer Paula Shackleton is mourning a lost love when a small man in a lemon-coloured suit accosts her over breakfast in a Boston hotel. Winston Peabody represents the African state of North Darrar, embroiled in a border arbitration case with its giant neighbour. He needs help with the hearings in The Hague, Paula needs to forget the past. She flies to the state's capital determined to lose herself in work, but soon discovers that even jobs taken with the purest intentions can involve moral compromise. Taking testimony in scorching refugee camps, delving into the colonial past, she becomes increasingly uneasy about her role. Budding friendships with a scarred former rebel and an idealistic young doctor whittle away at her pose of sardonic indifference, until Paula finds herself taking a step no decent lawyer should ever contemplate. Michela Wrong has been writing about Africa for two decades. In this taut legal thriller, rich with the Horn of Africa's colours and aromas, she probes the motives underlying Western engagement with the continent, questioning the value of universal justice and exploring how history itself is forged. Above all her first novel is the story of a young woman's anguished quest for redemption.
A gripping account of both an individual caught on the horns of an excruciating moral dilemma and a continent at a turning point. When Michela Wrong's Kenyan friend John Githongo appeared one cold February morning on the doorstep of her London flat, carrying a small mountain of luggage, it was clear something had gone very wrong in a country regarded until then as one of Africa's few budding success stories. Two years earlier, in the wave of euphoria that followed the election defeat of long-serving President Daniel arap Moi, John had been appointed Kenya's new anti-corruption czar. In choosing this giant of a man, respected as a longstanding anti-corruption crusader, the new government was signalling that it was set on ending the practices that had made Kenya an international by-word for sleaze. Now John was on the run, having realised that the new administration, far from breaking with the past, was using near-identical techniques to pilfer public funds. John's tale, which has all the elements of a political thriller, is the story of how a brave man came to make a lonely decision with huge ramifications. But his story transcends the personal, touching as it does on the cultural, historical and social themes that lie at the heart of the continent's continuing crisis. Tracking this story of an African whistleblower, Michela Wrong seeks answers to the questions that have puzzled outsiders for decades. What is it about African society that makes corruption so hard to eradicate, so sweeping in its scope, so destructive in its impact? Why have so many African presidents found it so easy to reduce all political discussion to the self-serving calculation of which tribe gets to 'eat'? And at what stage will Africans start placing the wider interests of their nation ahead of the narrow interests of their tribe?
One small East African country embodies the battered history of the continent: patronised by colonialists, riven by civil war, confused by Cold War manoeuvring, proud, colorful, with Africa's best espresso and worst rail service. Michela Wrong brilliantly reveals the contradictions and comedy, past and present, of Eritrea. Just as the beat of a butterfly's wings is said to cause hurricanes on the other side of the world, so the affairs of tiny Eritrea reverberate onto the agenda of superpower strategists. This new book on Africa is from the author of the critically acclaimed In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz. Eritrea is a little-known country scarred by decades of conflict and occupation. It has weathered the world's longest-running guerrilla war, and the dogged determination that secured victory against Ethiopia, its giant neighbour, is woven into the national psyche. Fascist Italy wanted Eritrea as the springboard for a new, racially-pure Roman empire, Britain sold off its industry for scrap, the US needed headquarters for its state-of-the-art spy station and the Soviet Union used it as a pawn in a proxy war. Michela Wrong reveals the breathtaking abuses this tiny nation has suffered and, with the sharp eye for detail that was the hallmark of her account of Mobutu's Congo, she tells the story of colonialism itself. Along the way, we meet a formidable Emperor, a guerrilla fighter who taught himself French cuisine in the bush, and a chemist who arranged the heist of his own laboratory. An arresting blend of travelogue and history, 'I Didn't Do It For You' pierces the dark heart of our colonial history.
A story of grim comedy amid the apocalypse and a celebration of the sheer indestructibility of the human spirit in a nation run riot: Michela Wrong's vision of Congo/Zaire during the Mobutu years is incisive, ironic and revelatory. Mr Kurtz, the colonial white master, brought evil to the remote upper reaches of the Congo River. A century after Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' was first published, Michela Wrong revisits the Congo during the turbulent era of Mobutu Sese Seko. From the heart of Africa comes grotesque confusion: pink-lipsticked rebel soldiers mingle with track-suited secret policemen in hotels where fin de siecle dinner parties are ploughing through vintage wines rather than leave them to the new regime. Congo, the African country richest in natural resources, has institutionalised kleptomania. Everyone is on the take. Someone has even swiped one of the uranium rods from the country's only nuclear reactor. Having presided over unprecedented looting of the country's wealth, Mobutu, like Kurtz, retreated deep within the jungle to his palace of marble floors and gold taps. A hundred years on and nothing has changed.