Dunne, Jul 2003, 35.00, 528 pp.
With Liberia making headlines as to send or not to send that is the president's question (it only took fourteen years and three administrations to get to that point), a biography of Elspeth Huxley, known for her writings on Africa, seems timely. The book provides a fascinating glimpse of what seems like an archaic philosophy today, but only a few decades ago was acceptable. C.S. Nicholls analyzes Huxley's vast works that for the most part defend the English dominant position in much of Africa throughout the first half of the twentieth century.
The biography is extremely strong when the author paints an insightful and propitious picture that enables readers to better understand bygone eras. Huxley lived for most of the century (1907-1997) and what she supported through her writings has been one of the key factors that later led to much of the devastation that the continent has faced since the 1960s and 1970s independence movements succeeded. The only flaw is that author C.S. Nicholls rationalizes Huxley's defense of white colonialism, turning the biographer into an apologist rather than being a historiographer and thereby placing Huxley in a wider social text. Still the book is well written and will keep readers interested in a proficient, but not popular defender of the crown.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner