Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (published 1970, reissued in ebook form by OpenRoad Media) is an incredibly painful book to read. It is a straight-forward historical account of the last three decades of Native American Indians in the American West, an account of the great leaders and cultures that are no more.

Although I felt I had an understanding of the conflicts that happened in the American West during the 1800s, I feel now that I had no idea of the extent of the genocide. Before, I thought the Native American Indians tragically died out, due to disease and relocation. Now I see better that the local American government routinely slaughtered whole communities.

Brown’s book is written with the Native American perspective at the forefront, so of course there is bias. However, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a well researched record of the American historical experience, and it is a vital text for Americans interested in learning the not-so-pretty truth about American history.Continue Reading

The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith

At nearly 800 pages, The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith is overwhelming in scope. Subtitled A History of Fifty Years of Independence, the book attempts to capture the histories of all the countries on the African continent. Yet, such an ambitious subject cannot adequately be captured in less than 800 pages: each country has its own complexities. The history of the myriad of countries and people in Africa cannot be adequately explained in one book. Meredith neglected some countries’ histories while others were well drawn. In short, The Fate of Africa gave me a good grounding in some countries but left a gap in my understanding of others.

Nevertheless, I read The Fate of Africa to get a better context and understanding of the African continent today, and for that it delivered. Continue Reading

Baking Cakes in Kigali: Book Club Discussion

Last year, I read Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin, and I really enjoyed it. I suggested it to my book club, and I was delighted it when it was selected as this month’s read! I reread it last week and searched for some discussion questions online. To my surprise, I couldn’t find any! So I’ve written some. Because I think this book will provide a great discussion, I want to share them with the rest of you so you can also have a book club on this book. I suspect you won’t be disappointed. Note that these questions, as original questions, are copyright Rebecca Reid.

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If you have read the book, I’d be interested to hear your answers to any of the questions, or your thoughts in general about the book. If you have not read the book, “spoilers” obviously abound.Continue Reading

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

This is a “must read” book. There, I said it.

I am a suburban American stay-at-home mom. I have always been well fed and safe. I have 16+ years of education and I could get more if I felt like it. When I was 26, I delivered my first child naturally in a hospital with a nurse midwife present. I don’t feel I’ve ever been discriminated against because of my gender, and I’ve never been abused or beaten in any way.

I am pretty naïve about the state of women in the world.

Reading Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn was eye-opening for me. I had of course heard about sex trafficking in Asia. I had of course heard of maternal deaths in Africa due to improper medical care. I had of course heard about the atrocities against woman that occurred (and are occurring) as a part of national genocide in Africa. I had of course heard about lack of education for girls around the globe and corresponding gender discrimination.

But hearing something is different than meeting the people. The stories Kristof and WuDunn share about woman around the globe made these issues real to me. These Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists capture the issues and it is heart-breaking. But because each section ends with stories of success, I feel that change is possible in the future. There is hope. What will it take to turn the world around? I think being aware is part of the first step, and Half the Sky is a great first step for all to gain a little bit more of that awareness.Continue Reading