Hot Best Seller

Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival

Availability: Ready to download

A seasoned war correspondent, Jeffrey Gettleman has covered every major conflict over the past twenty years, from Afghanistan to Iraq to the Congo. For the past decade, he has served as the East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times, fulfilling a teenage dream. At nineteen, Gettleman fell in love, twice. On a do-it-yourself community service trip in college, he went to A seasoned war correspondent, Jeffrey Gettleman has covered every major conflict over the past twenty years, from Afghanistan to Iraq to the Congo. For the past decade, he has served as the East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times, fulfilling a teenage dream. At nineteen, Gettleman fell in love, twice. On a do-it-yourself community service trip in college, he went to East Africa—a terrifying, exciting, dreamlike part of the world in the throes of change that imprinted itself on his imagination and on his heart. But around that same time he also fell in love with a fellow Cornell student—the brightest, classiest, most principled woman he’d ever met. To say they were opposites was an understatement. She became a criminal lawyer in America; he hungered to return to Africa. For the next decade he would be torn between these two abiding passions. A sensually rendered coming-of-age story in the tradition of Barbarian Days, Love, Africa is a tale of passion, violence, far-flung adventure, tortuous long-distance relationships, screwing up, forgiveness, parenthood, and happiness that explores the power of finding yourself in the most unexpected of places.


Compare

A seasoned war correspondent, Jeffrey Gettleman has covered every major conflict over the past twenty years, from Afghanistan to Iraq to the Congo. For the past decade, he has served as the East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times, fulfilling a teenage dream. At nineteen, Gettleman fell in love, twice. On a do-it-yourself community service trip in college, he went to A seasoned war correspondent, Jeffrey Gettleman has covered every major conflict over the past twenty years, from Afghanistan to Iraq to the Congo. For the past decade, he has served as the East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times, fulfilling a teenage dream. At nineteen, Gettleman fell in love, twice. On a do-it-yourself community service trip in college, he went to East Africa—a terrifying, exciting, dreamlike part of the world in the throes of change that imprinted itself on his imagination and on his heart. But around that same time he also fell in love with a fellow Cornell student—the brightest, classiest, most principled woman he’d ever met. To say they were opposites was an understatement. She became a criminal lawyer in America; he hungered to return to Africa. For the next decade he would be torn between these two abiding passions. A sensually rendered coming-of-age story in the tradition of Barbarian Days, Love, Africa is a tale of passion, violence, far-flung adventure, tortuous long-distance relationships, screwing up, forgiveness, parenthood, and happiness that explores the power of finding yourself in the most unexpected of places.

30 review for Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival

  1. 4 out of 5

    Soren

    The tale of an asshole who has had a fascinating career.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Karyl

    In July of 1996, I and 21 of my fellow church members traveled to Kenya on a mission trip. Aside from short stays in both Nairobi and Mombasa, we spent most of the month in a tiny town called Kibwezi. We had running water but no electricity, and because it was 1996, none of us had laptops or cell phones. Honestly, it rather boggles my mind that my parents let me go so many thousands of miles away with no ability to make sure I was okay most of the time. I totally understand why Gettleman has fal In July of 1996, I and 21 of my fellow church members traveled to Kenya on a mission trip. Aside from short stays in both Nairobi and Mombasa, we spent most of the month in a tiny town called Kibwezi. We had running water but no electricity, and because it was 1996, none of us had laptops or cell phones. Honestly, it rather boggles my mind that my parents let me go so many thousands of miles away with no ability to make sure I was okay most of the time. I totally understand why Gettleman has fallen so completely in love with Kenya. Twenty years later, and I still find my ears perk up at the mention of that captivating country. I remember seeing Mt Kilimanjaro through the haze, elephants and lions and giraffes roaming around Tsavo Game Park, the incredibly blue Indian Ocean off the coast of Mombasa, watching the barefoot boys playing soccer in the dust and the dirt of the polytechnic where we were staying, drinking hot chai and eating chapati at the 10am tea break, hearing the howls of the monkeys at night and seeing the impossibly bright stars just over our heads. But I had not realized how the election of 2007 had torn the country apart. Kenya had felt so far away by then, and I was a wife and a mother to a young child. We'd just moved across the country from Washington to Rhode Island. Gettleman brings it all to life again; it's like my visit was last month, not twenty years ago. This is most definitely a memoir. It even says so in the title, which is why I'm a bit confused about some reviewers feeling it was too much about Gettleman and not enough about Africa. But it's a love letter not just to Africa, but also to his wife, who has stood by him even when he didn't deserve her. Gettleman is brutally honest about his failings and shortcomings, about his inability to stay true to Courtenay even though he loved her above all else, his failure to rein in his selfishness, and that's perhaps why some people are put off by this book. I suppose they'd prefer a bit more of a dashing hero, not a flawed and honest Everyman. This book is so much more important than simply as Gettleman's coming of age story. Here we see through the eyes of a man with boots on the ground the insane mistakes the United States has made in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Kenya. It's difficult to delude ourselves that we are always the heroes of the day after reading this book, and for that reason, I'd like everyone I know to read the sections on Gettleman's reporting of these wars. Highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    I was so excited to win this book from the publisher. I had been waiting for the book to be published. Some of the book reminded me of one of my favorites, A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda. I really enjoyed reading about the authors time in Africa and the various people he met. I only gave it three stars because I had a hard time liking the author. I don't know if it was intentional but by proclaiming what a narcissistic jerk he was made me not like him even mor I was so excited to win this book from the publisher. I had been waiting for the book to be published. Some of the book reminded me of one of my favorites, A Thousand Hills to Heaven: Love, Hope, and a Restaurant in Rwanda. I really enjoyed reading about the authors time in Africa and the various people he met. I only gave it three stars because I had a hard time liking the author. I don't know if it was intentional but by proclaiming what a narcissistic jerk he was made me not like him even more. Everything he does is for himself and so that he can have children who he raises in Africa, just like his cool friend Dan who was raised in Africa. He talks about helping one person financially while acknowledging that he lives very rich in a poor country. While many people move to the third world to start a non-profit or help the native people in some way, this book is about the author moving to Africa to help himself. It sounds like he ends up dragging his wife along. I would love to hear her side of the story and why she stayed with him despite his flawed personality.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Astrid Haas

    Ok. My first question: how the hell did this guy win the Pulitzer prize? I already did NOT like his reporting in the NYT, which otherwise is generally one of my favourite publications. As someone who lives and works in East Africa, his reporting on the continent always seemed a tad paternalistic and simplistic - or as he himself so aptly describes it in this book "ooga-booga African stories." This book, however, not only confirms my underlying sentiments about him but takes them to a whole new l Ok. My first question: how the hell did this guy win the Pulitzer prize? I already did NOT like his reporting in the NYT, which otherwise is generally one of my favourite publications. As someone who lives and works in East Africa, his reporting on the continent always seemed a tad paternalistic and simplistic - or as he himself so aptly describes it in this book "ooga-booga African stories." This book, however, not only confirms my underlying sentiments about him but takes them to a whole new level. There were parts of reading this where I felt beyond cringe-worthy and absolutely angry about the way he described the people and the countries he has encountered along the way. So much so that I refuse to even highlight examples here. He takes the notion of whit-privilege so unapologetically far that it actually makes it seem he is not embarrassed about it at all. Coupled with the fact that he comes across as a very unlikable, arrogant, stereotypical frat boy (which is how he describes himself at the outset but never seems to be able to shake that aura as he grows up). I always wondered whether it is the position that makes the people or unlikable people get the position. The latter is definitely the case here - there is not a moment in the book where I thought "hey, this is a person I would like to have a coffee with some day." The absolute irony is that he quotes Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainana's excellent piece on "How to Write about Africa" (which really is a piece on how NOT to write about Africa) and pretty much follows it to a tee. As an East African, I am upset that I spent any money on this book and reading it. The only good thing is that he is now no-longer the East Africa Bureau Chief for the NYT. The bar is not particularly high for his successor.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karen Ashmore

    I traveled to East Africa in 2013 to visit dear friends and fell in love with it. I was fascinated by the different cultures in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was surprised by the crowded metropolis of Kampala, Uganda. But I particularly loved Nairobi, Kenya and all its contradictions as it embraced both the traditional and modern. I have subscribed to The NY Times for years and have always followed Jeffrey Gettleman's reporting as their East Africa Bureau Chief. I enjoyed read this love story of Afri I traveled to East Africa in 2013 to visit dear friends and fell in love with it. I was fascinated by the different cultures in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was surprised by the crowded metropolis of Kampala, Uganda. But I particularly loved Nairobi, Kenya and all its contradictions as it embraced both the traditional and modern. I have subscribed to The NY Times for years and have always followed Jeffrey Gettleman's reporting as their East Africa Bureau Chief. I enjoyed read this love story of Africa. I have experienced some similar escapades as #JeffreyGettleman (such as being kidnapped in a developing country) so it was provocative to read of someone else's account of their experience. A well-written book for those who love Africa and have a taste for adventure but also realize the perspective change of parenthood. It inspires me to finish my book about my adventures in Haiti.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    Read this after hearing the author interviewed on Pod Save the World. Loved it, although I'm biased, as I'm a foreigner living in Africa too. Read this after hearing the author interviewed on Pod Save the World. Loved it, although I'm biased, as I'm a foreigner living in Africa too.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    He says that white people in Africa are in 3 M's: Missionaries, Misfits, and Mercenaries. He says he's neither, but when you make a career and a best selling book on stories of africa, why are you not a mercenary--just a different sort. I didn't want to read and like a memoir about Africa from a white dude. But alas, he's a gifted writer and I liked the book. What can I say. He was pretty self-reflective about writing about Africa and how to deal with the ooga booga of otherness and privilege. I He says that white people in Africa are in 3 M's: Missionaries, Misfits, and Mercenaries. He says he's neither, but when you make a career and a best selling book on stories of africa, why are you not a mercenary--just a different sort. I didn't want to read and like a memoir about Africa from a white dude. But alas, he's a gifted writer and I liked the book. What can I say. He was pretty self-reflective about writing about Africa and how to deal with the ooga booga of otherness and privilege. It was a good book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marley Dubrow

    Brilliant book! A unique love triangle pitting person against purpose, with brief glimpses into American foreign policy across Africa and the Middle East from the eyes of a journalist. I cannot recommend it enough. Not only did I find the memoir so moving I sent an excessively long email to the author, Jeffrey Gettleman (2012 Pulitzer Prize winner for international reporting and Chief of the East Africa Bureau for the New York Times), but he also responded the same day and it was the most pleasa Brilliant book! A unique love triangle pitting person against purpose, with brief glimpses into American foreign policy across Africa and the Middle East from the eyes of a journalist. I cannot recommend it enough. Not only did I find the memoir so moving I sent an excessively long email to the author, Jeffrey Gettleman (2012 Pulitzer Prize winner for international reporting and Chief of the East Africa Bureau for the New York Times), but he also responded the same day and it was the most pleasant email exchange I've ever had. Love, Africa should be on every adventurer's reading list.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    I can see why other reviewer's might not have liked the author and thus not the book. For me, I felt like he was largely transparent about his shortcomings. And the book is just so fascinating and well written that I didn't mind not wanting to be his best friend. He always chooses the exact right verb. And this is a relatively easy-to-read book that explains an entire region at war. I've always admired his newspaper articles because they make foreign countries feel human in a way newspaper artic I can see why other reviewer's might not have liked the author and thus not the book. For me, I felt like he was largely transparent about his shortcomings. And the book is just so fascinating and well written that I didn't mind not wanting to be his best friend. He always chooses the exact right verb. And this is a relatively easy-to-read book that explains an entire region at war. I've always admired his newspaper articles because they make foreign countries feel human in a way newspaper articles often don't. Here, he continues that. I also really enjoyed getting to pull back the curtain to look at how he worked his way up in journalism. Somehow his wife felt like a really flat character to me, but his male friends did too, so maybe he just isn't as great at writing about the people he really loves. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It was honest and informative and best of all engrossing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeannette

    I've traveled a fair amount in Africa over the past 9 years, passing through almost a dozen countries. That made me wonder: would readers who lack that experience love this book as much? How could they appreciate how deftly Gettleman communicates so many of the mystery and subtle ironies and beauty of the continent? But if you can love a place because someone describes it so astutely, so sensitively, then readers who've never been to Africa will love Africa at least a bit, after reading it. And I've traveled a fair amount in Africa over the past 9 years, passing through almost a dozen countries. That made me wonder: would readers who lack that experience love this book as much? How could they appreciate how deftly Gettleman communicates so many of the mystery and subtle ironies and beauty of the continent? But if you can love a place because someone describes it so astutely, so sensitively, then readers who've never been to Africa will love Africa at least a bit, after reading it. And even if reading about a place can never equal visiting it, Gettleman offers so much more. He's written a candid and masterful biography, disclosing things it took a lot of courage to share. I was repeatedly flooded with gratitude.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Greg Fanoe

    Honestly, this was pretty boring. Being fairly ignorant of modern African history, I actually did learn a fair amount from this, but it just made me wish I was actually reading a book on modern African history and not half a book on modern African history half a book on the boring personal life of some asshole.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Just because the author admits that he's a narcissist doesn't make it any easier to read his narcissistic ramblings. This book is full of factual inaccuracies, not to mention heaps of white male privilege; over-inflated ego and sense of self-importance; and vain, shallow faux-introspection masquerading as a life-altering journey through Africa. In addition, while writing about this journey, he falls into pretty much every literary trap he claims to loathe about other white writers and Africa, in Just because the author admits that he's a narcissist doesn't make it any easier to read his narcissistic ramblings. This book is full of factual inaccuracies, not to mention heaps of white male privilege; over-inflated ego and sense of self-importance; and vain, shallow faux-introspection masquerading as a life-altering journey through Africa. In addition, while writing about this journey, he falls into pretty much every literary trap he claims to loathe about other white writers and Africa, including a mountain of paternalism and, as he puts it, "ooga booga." I am shocked I was able to finish this, because several times I nearly threw my book across the room in frustration, and several more times I audibly groaned with contempt. Save yourself the time and skip this one, because you'll never get the hours of your life back. I sure wish I could.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michal

    The pure genius of a recommendation from Audible. I just got back from Rwanda and I still experience "Africa travel fever". And this book has put names on so many moments I experienced. If you do love Africa or want to find out why people fall in love with this wonderful continent, read this book. It is a life story of a punk young guy who turns into an amazing journalist. His life story, approach to life is inspirational and touching. His love for Africa is suicidal, eternal and deep. His narra The pure genius of a recommendation from Audible. I just got back from Rwanda and I still experience "Africa travel fever". And this book has put names on so many moments I experienced. If you do love Africa or want to find out why people fall in love with this wonderful continent, read this book. It is a life story of a punk young guy who turns into an amazing journalist. His life story, approach to life is inspirational and touching. His love for Africa is suicidal, eternal and deep. His narration is emotional yet factual, tactile yet not blackmailing, thorough and long, but never boring. This book is excellent.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Farah

    Incredibly boring and predictable. A white boy with no particular depth in Africa’s political and social structures who somehow is qualified to be the NY Times Chief Bureau of East Africa recounts exaggerated exotic tales about Africa. He relies on the same old stereotypes about the continent from the book cover to the characters and uses Africa as an exciting chaotic site for his ordinary love story.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Bercaw

    Spectacular story, spectacular storytelling. Get deep into Gettleman's head and deep into the places he goes. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Spectacular story, spectacular storytelling. Get deep into Gettleman's head and deep into the places he goes. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Brown

    Love, Africa is probably the story you think it is. The color scheme of the book's cover, like most books about Africa, is one of a fiery sunset and Gettleman's story sadly perpetuates the West's view of Africa: a place of madness, constantly on fire. Gettleman writes, "the only difference between adventure and tragedy is death". In Love, Africa we are reading one man's adventure of writing other people's tragedies. The whole book felt a bit trite. That said, I was entertained just as one may be Love, Africa is probably the story you think it is. The color scheme of the book's cover, like most books about Africa, is one of a fiery sunset and Gettleman's story sadly perpetuates the West's view of Africa: a place of madness, constantly on fire. Gettleman writes, "the only difference between adventure and tragedy is death". In Love, Africa we are reading one man's adventure of writing other people's tragedies. The whole book felt a bit trite. That said, I was entertained just as one may be entertained watching Jack Bauer on 24. For me 24 falls into the category of "terror porn" where the story is diluted into good versus evil with no confusion over whom occupies which role. Love, Africa is not "terror porn". Thankfully, Gettleman seems to recognize the complexities of conflict and the nuances of a world so different from his own. Lastly, Gettleman is a strong writer and his love for Nairobi is romantic, consuming, selfish, energizing and manic.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    This guy is an excellent writer, and I loved reading about Africa and his journalism career there. He's about a thousand times more adventurous than I was in my own journalistic career. My only quibble is that he tells more information about his love life than I really wanted to hear. He has a right to be proud of himself, but all the personal details made him seem full of himself. This guy is an excellent writer, and I loved reading about Africa and his journalism career there. He's about a thousand times more adventurous than I was in my own journalistic career. My only quibble is that he tells more information about his love life than I really wanted to hear. He has a right to be proud of himself, but all the personal details made him seem full of himself.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This was my favorite book in 2020. Love, Africa is a memoir written by Jeffery Gettleman, the longtime East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times. It is a story about how he fell in love with the continent as a young man in college, worked his way up the newspaper journalism ladder, and eventually captured the position he'd had his eye on for a decade. This journey is juxtaposed and intertwined with the story of how he met and courted his future wife, how they became a multimedia team for t This was my favorite book in 2020. Love, Africa is a memoir written by Jeffery Gettleman, the longtime East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times. It is a story about how he fell in love with the continent as a young man in college, worked his way up the newspaper journalism ladder, and eventually captured the position he'd had his eye on for a decade. This journey is juxtaposed and intertwined with the story of how he met and courted his future wife, how they became a multimedia team for the NYT, and the ups and downs of their relationship as they grew up as people and partners. The moment I picked up this book I knew I had to read it. I've travelled and worked in Africa and found a similar allure to the place and its people as Gettleman describes. I also began my career in newspaper journalism so I am somewhat familiar with that world and the lifestyle required to be successful in it. Therefore I was sucked in to the narrative from the very beginning. However, a non-journalism layperson with no particular interest in Africa would be sucked in to the story too, as the prologue by Gettleman is one of the best introductions to a book I have ever read. If you are not compelled to keep reading to find out what happens then you are simply not to be stimulated by the written word. And what a collection of words it is! Gettlemen is an excellent writer, which is obvious by the station he has achieved in the field. His prose transports. He has an ability with description that only the best writers and crafters of language can create. I found myself underlining various phrases just to remember them for their vividness. To say the book was physically enjoyable to read is an understatement. The content of the story is fulfilling as well. Gettlemen describes his first trip to Africa during a summer in college, where he fell in love with the place, enamored as many people are by, to sum it up clumsily, how different it is from what we know. That trip sowed the seeds for his pursuit of getting back to Africa to work, and it sets him along his path of becoming a journalist. Along the way, as it often happens, he meets a girl. They hit it off; he knows very early on that he has fallen deeply for her, too. However, the path of a cub reporter is a circuitous one, leading to early jobs in places you had never heard of before to get experience. Then you move up to more familiar places, but perhaps even further away. Each promotion up the ladder comes with new challenges for a relationship, trials that can either cement a bond or fracture a commitment. Quite often, both. We witness the evolution of Jeffery and Courtenay's relationship as they grow within themselves and with each other. There are definite growing pains. And there are triumphs. And pains again. Like our own relationships. Jeffery eventually lands that coveted position in Africa and he and Courtenay take up residence in Nairobi, Kenya, and have a beat covering 12 countries. Together they make a team covering war in Sudan, election violence in Kenya, and famine in Somalia. Gettleman's insight on what it means to be a journalist, while somehow remaining a human, is some of the most poignant and revealing content of the book. Anyone interested in this theme will find this book captivating. Anyone else interested in what and how journalists do what they do, or how they deal with what they see, will find it enlightening as well. I'll also point out that Gettleman makes a sincere effort to explain the "savior complex" that often colors Westerners' approaches to working in Africa, and how he has tried to be mindful of it and avoid it as much as possible. In a particularly insightful segment he explains the "3 M's" - the three categories white people usually fall into when they become captivated by Africa. He'll admit when and if he falls into one of them, while letting it teach him how to avoid the pratfalls of this kind of thinking and just to see Africans for the people they are. It's an important process for a good journalist and a better human. Overall the book was fascinating to me. Coming from a similar mindset to Gettleman's helped, but he's done a ton of more adventurous work than I have, which is why he wrote a book about it. There are of course some segments which are hard to read, as any story about reporting in conflict zones will be. The Earth is very often a harsh and violent place. But do yourself a favor and take some time to learn about the world that journalists inhabit, and the training, the personality and the drive they must have to be able to do their jobs. All set against the background of a continent that inspires both wonder and misunderstanding. That's the core pursuit for any journalist in the end: to understand the wider world, and at the same time understanding yourself.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn T

    I read this book after listening to to Jeffrey’s interview on Pod Save the World. I really enjoyed this book and felt great camaraderie with his stories as I had spent some time in Africa and ended my time there feeling confused by the beautiful but often shocking experiences. I felt like many of his observations and stories put words to feelings Africa gave me but I could not articulate. If you have spent time in Africa this book will bring you nostalgic feelings that will help you further unde I read this book after listening to to Jeffrey’s interview on Pod Save the World. I really enjoyed this book and felt great camaraderie with his stories as I had spent some time in Africa and ended my time there feeling confused by the beautiful but often shocking experiences. I felt like many of his observations and stories put words to feelings Africa gave me but I could not articulate. If you have spent time in Africa this book will bring you nostalgic feelings that will help you further understand the imprint Africa has left on your life. If you haven’t been to Africa this book will most likely make you want to visit and learn the lessons yourself from the amazing people and places there.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Jeff Gettleman fell in love with Africa when he was nineteen and found a way to bring the woman he loved to the place of his dreams...He as a newspaper correspondent, she as a photographer. The Africa of his youth is changed/changing and as a journalist he reports what he sees... and, because his love for Africa forms the fabric of his life, we also care about the people and places that are, for most of us, distant names - Somalia, Kenya, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Congo...

  21. 4 out of 5

    James Scott

    I can't decide if I like this book or not. The author is particularly honest in his telling of his life, which leaves you alternating between hating him and forgiving him as time goes by. The horrors of war correspondence and life in Africa are personalized, but little positive is given for balance I can't decide if I like this book or not. The author is particularly honest in his telling of his life, which leaves you alternating between hating him and forgiving him as time goes by. The horrors of war correspondence and life in Africa are personalized, but little positive is given for balance

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This was brilliant. Jeffrey Gettleman gave us a glimpse into his life - his carefree childhood, his college years when he was finding himself, and his dangerous but fulfilling profession as a foreign correspondent. He gave us the good and the bad, the beautiful and the terrible. I have never thought much about Africa, let alone the various countries that comprise it. This book really opened my eyes to the beauty and spirit of Africa. Definitely a 5 star rating.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cressida

    Good writer and interesting stories, although some will haunt me (humans can be horrible) and makes me wary of recommending this book to just anyone.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Jeffrey Gettleman’s Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival certainly lives up to all elements of its subtitle. There is plenty of romance, both causal and enduring. As an intrepid and fearless foreign correspondent, Gettleman covers brutal conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq to several African countries. And despite taking wild and heart-stopping risks, Gettleman’s survival fabric seems to be cut from the same cloth as Allan Quartermain and Indiana Jones. At nineteen years old, Gettl Jeffrey Gettleman’s Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival certainly lives up to all elements of its subtitle. There is plenty of romance, both causal and enduring. As an intrepid and fearless foreign correspondent, Gettleman covers brutal conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq to several African countries. And despite taking wild and heart-stopping risks, Gettleman’s survival fabric seems to be cut from the same cloth as Allan Quartermain and Indiana Jones. At nineteen years old, Gettleman’s then untapped reservoir of young love is uncompromisingly and unconditionally given—in equal measures at the time—to Africa and to a one-in-a-million woman called Courtenay Morris. But whereas the latter suffers several on-again-off-again cycles before staying permanently “on,” Gettleman’s love for Africa—his “inconvenient passion”—stays steadfastly “on” from the very first moment of his very first visit. Upon returning from that visit to Nairobi, Gettleman focuses only on getting back there as soon as possible. But after coming up empty with study-abroad programs and Peace Corps opportunities, someone casually asks if he has considered journalism. He hasn’t, but realizes that could be his ticket back to Africa. To strengthen his chances, Gettleman crash-courses in Swahili. His newspaper reporting apprenticeship includes a crime beat for the St. Petersberg Times in Florida and work for the LA Times in Atlanta. Unwaveringly fixing his sights on Africa, Gettleman secures his chances with some stunning right-place-right-time reporting on the 9/11 terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade Center…and finally finds himself in his beloved East Africa. His adventures in reporting seduce him to war zones of countries in conflict. In one heart-thumping assignment after another, Gettleman takes enormous, life-threatening risks with a nonchalance bordering on insanity! The number of times he is facing the business end of an AK 47, or the frequency with which he replaces confiscated passports would have deterred others less doughty. But he pursues the stories and survives. Even from the earliest pages in the book, readers will recognize the high-caliber writing. It is almost as if the whole of Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival is a deadline-driven dispatch on steroids: the writing sizzles on the page; there is rarely a superfluous word; the narrative grips and races along. Gettleman’s graphic descriptions of famine, the hostilities of war, the frustration of gross injustices, and the almost unimaginable and terrifying capacity of humans to inflict mutual harm will stretch your sentiments beyond comprehension. But readers will expect nothing less from a Pulitzer Prize-winner for international reporting. Gettleman is unflinching, too, in the honesty of his own story. While he is clearly and vocationally cut out to be a top-notch journalist, he frequently admits his human flaws in judgement calls and morality. This fabulous book is much more than memoir: it is history, geography, and international politics; it is also about love in its multifaceted forms. Gettleman was instantly beguiled by Africa. His superb writing about that continent will beguile readers too.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Frederique Courard-Hauri

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Blech. I couldn't finish this one. I read an op-ed by Gettleman, which led me to borrow this book from the library. The prologue was intriguing, and I thought I was in for a rollicking memoir. Instead, Africa and Africans are only used as cardboard characters that the author brings into focus only as props for his "adventures". What we're left with is the life story of an entitled white frat boy (his father is a federal court judge, for heaven's sake) from Cornell who does typical frat boy thing Blech. I couldn't finish this one. I read an op-ed by Gettleman, which led me to borrow this book from the library. The prologue was intriguing, and I thought I was in for a rollicking memoir. Instead, Africa and Africans are only used as cardboard characters that the author brings into focus only as props for his "adventures". What we're left with is the life story of an entitled white frat boy (his father is a federal court judge, for heaven's sake) from Cornell who does typical frat boy things on campus and off. He's proud of the summer house painting squad he was a part of -- a group of rich white boys who routinely stole equipment from real painters' trucks. He relishes in the telling of how he and a buddy snuck their way onto Kilimanjaro without purchasing the requisite permits; even after they get caught they run away instead of paying a fine, and as an aside he mentions that, hah! in the end they ended up spending as much money in their escape as they owed to the Tanzanian people. This book is more a love letter to his dead rich [white] African friend (i.e., another frat boy type) than a memoir about true Africa. Despite being the NYT eastern Africa bureau chief, he never seems to interact with Africans. Well, except for one Somali guerilla fighter. But really, we read more about the other expats than professionals on the ground. He's also an asshole to his partner (college girlfriend turned sidekick wife). So, yeah, I didn't read the whole thing. Save yourself the time and invest in a book about Africa by someone who cares: An actual African.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nadine

    This book was a fascinating memoir of a New York Times foreign correspondent. Mr. Gettleman has had an extraordinary career covering many of the world's hot spots between the Mideast and east Africa. He shows an intellectual curiosity of the people and places he reports on. He evidently had a severe problem with the whole work/live balance thing as a young man, and was driven to cover situations many other people would have run from. His attitude left his personal life in shambles, and his contin This book was a fascinating memoir of a New York Times foreign correspondent. Mr. Gettleman has had an extraordinary career covering many of the world's hot spots between the Mideast and east Africa. He shows an intellectual curiosity of the people and places he reports on. He evidently had a severe problem with the whole work/live balance thing as a young man, and was driven to cover situations many other people would have run from. His attitude left his personal life in shambles, and his continued cluelessness was frustrating to this reader. I can only imagine its effect on his loved ones. The book is well written and about a very interesting life. Other reviewers have chosen to judge the writer's character as well. While I don't believe that I would like him if I met him in real life, I found it interesting and broadening to read about such a different character. And I think that without characters like him, we wouldn't get news and views of such troubling parts of the world.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eric Dye

    I have been reading a lot of history and theory lately to help me understand this challenging moment in time. This booked helped me look at the role journalism can play. Thinking about how the ways journalism can be used as activism. It is certainly not a perfect tool, but when done right it can be one tool in the tool belt to bring about change for the better. Gettleman’s work in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around mostly East Africa helped to shine a light on a lot of atrocities that otherwise would I have been reading a lot of history and theory lately to help me understand this challenging moment in time. This booked helped me look at the role journalism can play. Thinking about how the ways journalism can be used as activism. It is certainly not a perfect tool, but when done right it can be one tool in the tool belt to bring about change for the better. Gettleman’s work in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around mostly East Africa helped to shine a light on a lot of atrocities that otherwise would have been unseen by much of the world. Now, the rest of the world did not always respond well. And that is certainly where journalism has its limits. But it was really interesting to learn about how these difficult stories get covered. I was particularly interested in the chapter about the unrest in Kenya after the 2007 election. The dynamics at play there could easily play out in any part of the world when you have an election so blatantly corrupted. Definitely had me thinking a lot about our own election in the US this fall. This book also showed me just how much I have to learn about the many countries and regions that make up Africa. I am already looking at books written by people born in parts of Africa like Kenya (which is a big focus in Gettleman’s book) to get their perspective. If I can’t travel the world to learn more about it during this Covid-19 period I will use books to get me there instead!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jude

    After reading lots of negative reviews of this book I was prepared not to like it at all. But I went on reading, and although I agree he might not be someone I want to meet (but for goodness sake, there are plenty of writers I wouldn't want to meet in person) I did enjoy the book. He writes as honestly as he can, and for me that's better than pretending that you are someone you're not. He's white, he's privileged, and he's American. That's a lot of negatives, and yet his story rang true - he fel After reading lots of negative reviews of this book I was prepared not to like it at all. But I went on reading, and although I agree he might not be someone I want to meet (but for goodness sake, there are plenty of writers I wouldn't want to meet in person) I did enjoy the book. He writes as honestly as he can, and for me that's better than pretending that you are someone you're not. He's white, he's privileged, and he's American. That's a lot of negatives, and yet his story rang true - he fell in love with East Africa - not so hard to do if you have money and privilege. I live in Africa but am not African, so perhaps I would feel differently about the book if I was.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fei He

    Enjoyed listening to Jeff's story. What an amazing adventure. Friendship, love, and marriage, interwove with wars, rebels, and kidnappings. It's like a movie, characters eventually become your friends. Enjoyed listening to Jeff's story. What an amazing adventure. Friendship, love, and marriage, interwove with wars, rebels, and kidnappings. It's like a movie, characters eventually become your friends.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Leilani

    He certainly makes no attempt to make himself look good, and spending this much time with someone who sounds fairly unpleasant is sometimes a trial. Eventually, though, the stories of his career and travels pick up an interesting momentum.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...