"With this powerful and moving novel, Thomas Keneally draws attention to a contemporary issue of global importance: the political causes of famine, exemplified by the long-running Eritrean struggle for independence from the Soviet-backed Ethiopia.
"Four Westerners travel under Eritrean rebel escort through a land of savage beauty and bitter drought towards the front-line and the ancient capital of Asmara, each one irrevocably changed as they bear witness to the devastation of war as well as to the Eritreans' courage, remarkable organisation and humanity in the face of constant attack."
"Not since For Whom the Bell Tolls has a book of such sophistication, the work of a major international novelist, spoken out so unambiguously on behalf of an armed struggle." - The New York Times Book Review
"Thomas Keneally has made the conflict in Eritrea the subject of a gripping novel, possibly his finest" - Sydney Morning Herald
"It is a tribute to the power of his narrative that his book reads as a factual account of a journey behind the lines, in the course of which a forgotten history is given flesh and blood" - The Observer
"Keneally advances on the interminable conflict with all his customary assurance and probing curiosity...The war springs vividly to life...Keneally keeps things moving through a brilliantly portrayed landscape" - The Guardian
I suppose my connections with the Eritreans, brave and starved creatures of the Horn, began not with my first visit to Africa but a little later, with something I and half the world saw on television. In my case, the television was located in the airshaft-facing room at the Hotel Warwick in New York.
I had just been to colorado on a cheap flight to do an article for The Times, the London not the New York version, on the plight of the Ute Indians. These days getting by on a portion of arid mesa in the south-west of the state, the Ute once owned all that land which is now occupied by a string of glittering ski resorts west of Denver.
From the Coronet paperback edition, 1990.
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Last modified: March 26, 2001.