Gérard PRUNIER, Éloi FICQUET, eds., Understanding Contemporary Ethiopia. Monarchy, Revolution and the Legacy of Meles Zenawi, London, Hurst & Company, 2015, 521 p.
When we think of Ethiopia we tend to think in cliches: Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the Falasha Jews, the epic reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, the Communist Revolution, famine and civil war. Among the countries of Africa it has a high profile yet is poorly known. How- ever all cliches contain within them a kernel of truth, and occlude much more. Today’s Ethiopia (and its painfully liberated sister state of Eritrea) are largely obscured by these mythical views and a secondary literature that is partial or propagandist. Moreover there have been few attempts to offer readers a comprehensive overview of the country’s recent history, politics and culture that goes beyond the usual guidebook fare. Understanding Contemporary Ethiopia seeks to do just that, presenting a measured, detailed and systematic analysis of the main features of this unique country, now building on the foundations of a magical and tumultuous past as it struggles to emerge in the modern world on its own terms.
Both editors have been directors of the French Centre for Ethiopian Studies (CFEE).
Gérard Prunier is a renowned historian of contemporary Africa and author of the acclaimed The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide and of Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide, both published by Hurst.
Éloi Ficquet is an anthropologist and historian, professor at the EHESS, and Director of the French Center for Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa. He is the author of A French-Amharic Dictionary and of many articles on Ethiopian history and culture.