The Ethiopian famine of 25 years ago was the greatest humanitarian disaster of the late 20th century, killing more than 600,000 people before the world took notice. Peter Gill was the first journalist to reach the epicenter of the famine in 1984 and he returned at the time of Live Aid to research the definitive account of the disaster, A Year in the Death of Africa.
Now, in Famine and Foreigners, Gill returns to Ethiopia to piece together the real story of the last 25 years, drawing on interviews with leading Ethiopians and with an army of foreign aid officials. He conducted extensive interviews with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the leading development economists, Joseph E. Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs. Most important of all, Gill has traveled throughout the country and interviewed scores of Ethiopia's dignified but still hungry farmers. What stands out in these pages are the graphic encounters with these Ethiopians--the supposed beneficiaries of western aid--who still struggle on the knife-edge of existence. What also emerges is the often tense relationship between official aid-givers and recipients--whether in the area of economic reform or the modern demands for "governance" and political change. Twenty five years on, we can say that we did feed the world. But did we change the face of poverty, did we close the gap between rich and poor, did we fulfill the promise of "development?"
A generation after Live Aid, this book questions whether any of world's big promises are being fulfilled. Have aid experts got it right? Are recipient countries allowed to pursue their own vision? Is democracy essential for banishing poverty? Now that the West faces its own economic challenges, it is time to ask whether the "development era" may be coming to an end.
`Thank God for great journalism. This book is a much needed, exhaustively researched and effortlessly well written recent history of Ethiopia. A book that strips away the cant and rumour, the pros and antis and thoroughly explains the people, politics and economics of that most beautiful nation. A superb and vital piece of work by someone who clearly loves the country of which he writes.'
`No outsider understands Ethiopia better than Peter Gill. He combines compassion with a clinical commitment to the truth. He writes with verve and an eye for telling detail. The result is a major contribution to the compelling story of this remarkable nation.'
`Famine and Foreigners is the essential book on Ethiopia, the world's crucible for hunger and poverty -- and development theory and practice. Moving between the lives of ordinary Ethiopians and the controversies among their leaders and the theoreticians of international development, Peter Gill guides the reader through a fascinating story of suffering, resilience and enthusiasm - often misguided - for formulae for development.'
Alex de Waal, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and author of 'Famine Crimes'
`The great Ethiopian famine changed everything and nothing. It fundamentally altered the rich world's sense of its responsibility to the hungry and the poor, but didn't solve anything. A quarter of a century on, we're still arguing about the roots of the problem, let alone the solution, and - though there has been progress - Ethiopia's food insecurity gets worse, not better.
Peter Gill was one of the most thorough and effective television journalists of his generation. He was there in 1984 and his work at the time added up to the most sensible, balanced and comprehensive explanation of what had happened. Twenty-five years later, he's gone back to test decades of aspiration against the realities on the ground. It's a book that bridges journalism and history, judicious analysis with a strong, and often gripping, narrative. Always readable, but never glib, this is a must for all those who think there is a simple answer to the famine, still waiting in the wings.' Michael Buerk
Number Of Pages: 298
Published: 15th October 2010
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.8 x 14.2 x 2.9
Weight (kg): 0.24