China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa
by Howard W. French
Published in January 2014
Thibault’s Score: 4/5
This is a fantastic read, and essential for anyone who wants to understand Africa.
The author, Howard French, is a pretty interesting guy. He is an American professor who taught in Ivory Coast during the 1980s, and eventually became a journalist. He later on became a war correspondent in Liberia, Sierra Leone, CAR, and in many other parts of Africa. He then lived in China for 5 years, and is now fluent in English, French, Mandarin, and Japanese.
The book is essentially a first person narrative describing the author’s encounters with Chinese people as he journeys across Africa, and retells their stories. This book has been very informative, and I learned a lot about China and Africa.
There is a certain view of the Sino-African experience that one can only get by reading interviews with the Africans and Chinese involved. The macro picture, the maps, and the geopolitics aren’t very good indications of what goes on the ground.
The stories of men taking concubines to avoid land regulations, of prostitutes working their way up and opening bars, and of truck drives across muddy and rainy conditions reminded me of stories I heard about the wild west.
This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in the Sino-African phenomenon going on right now.
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