Helene Cooper’s “The House at Sugar Beach” (13 cents)

Helene Cooper, New York Times reporter, was born in Monrovia, Liberia in the 1960’s. She remained in Liberia until Charles Taylor took over the country in 1980, when she left with her mother and sister for the United States. She went to high school in Greensboro, NC, and then to the University of North Carolina, where she studied journalism.

Her childhood in Liberia was fairly ideal – her family was descended from the freed American slaves who were the first settlers of the new colony of Liberia in the 1820s. This gave her family a privileged position, socially and financially, privileges which remained until the Tolbert regime became the Doe regime (and then the even more horrific Taylor regime) in the 1970s, when the “country” people took control, and began arrests, executions, and property expropriations.

This is a fascinating book, beautifully written, both a personal story, a family story, and a country’s story. I don’t know where else you can get such a comprehensible explanation of how Liberia has changed in the past thirty five years or so.

Highly recommended.

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