About the Authors

Gary Stewart is the author of Breakout: Profiles in African Rhythm, Rumba on the River and dozens of articles and reviews.  He was a volunteer with the Peace Corps in Fadugu from 1968 to 1970.

 

John Amman is a co-editor of Surviving the New Economy and a Business Representative for the International Cinematographers Guild IATSE Local 600 in New York.  He was a volunteer with the Peace Corps in Fadugu from 1979 to 1982.

Black Man’s Grave 

50% of book proceeds go to SLVP.  To purchase a copy go to Amazon via Goodshop.com. 

Synopsis

Desperate for more information on the situation and well-being of their friends over the course of the 11 year rebel war, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Gary Stewart and John Amman pooled their letters from their friends in the village where they once lived, Fadugu, and realized they were getting more information through their correspondence than what was available on BBC and The New York Times, eventually a book was born.

The Ishmael Beah's memoir and the movie, "Blood Diamonds," have only scratched the surface. Black Man's Grave tells what happened to place the boy-turned-soldier in jeopardy and why Sierra Leone's diamonds acquired their bloody tinge. Meet the greedy politicians who hijacked a fledgling democracy, the rebels who brought them down, and the villagers who struggled to survive the country's chaotic descent.

Coupling extensive research and historical knowledge with the unique vantage point of intimate letters from Sierra Leonean villagers caught in the crossfire, this work gives us a glimpse of what life was like for the innocents swept up in a gruesome war.  The cast includes everyday heroes like, Y.S. Mansaray and A.K. Bangura who lived in Fadugu and had to shelter and escape with their families and their lives from three separate invasions.  It also profiles the villains; Sierra Leone's "big man," Siaka Stevens; RUF leader Foday Sankoh, whose grandfatherly demeanor belied the viciousness with which he sought to impose his "revolution"; and one who aspired to the big man role, Charles Taylor from next-door Liberia. Taylor's support for Sierra Leone's rebel war expanded from initial hostility toward Stevens's handpicked successor into a commercial venture that supplied arms in exchange for diamonds.

 

In an offshoot of that pernicious trade, links between Sierra Leone's diamonds and al Qaeda have been traced. The revelations of Black Man's Grave help us understand the frustrations that simmer throughout much of the third world and threaten a peaceful future.

Reviews

Colgate University’s Professor Mary H. Moran’s Comparative Review of Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone and Black Man’s Grave View

 

A gripping tale....It is so well structured and carefully written that it makes almost lucid what in certain respects must always remain utterly incomprehensible. The analysis begins with historical context centered on the capital city, Freetown, from which at a steady pace it broadens in scope and complexity. The authors wisely refrain from blatant editorializing as they delineate the sequence of events, allowing the awful facts to speak for themselves...(they) create the necessary big picture while extracts of correspondence from their former neighbors provide helpful close-ups along the way. --Ted Boothroyd, The Beat

 

These authors draw upon a rich vein of personal experience...[in] Sierra Leone to depict that country's brutal civil war....Dozens of letters from local leaders add to the vivid reality of this book....Clearly and concisely written...with the addition of interesting personal perspectives. Summing Up: Recommended. --Choice magazine, September 2007

 

What is new in this book--and what makes it enormously readable and of enduring interest--are the letters from Sierra Leonean friends of the two American authors...The letters are a testament to the tragedies as well as the pathos of a war driven by forces barely understood by the majority of Sierra Leone's people, but which changed their lives and their country profoundly. --Other Facets, Partnership Africa Canada

  Publisher’s Homepage 

  Publisher’s Book Summary PDF

  University Curriculum

  Black Man’s Grave is incorporated in the syllabi of these Universities:

     Smith College

     University of Huston

     Illinois State University

  To inquire about adding it to your syllabus send us an Email.

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