“Allen the idealist and Barbara the sceptic joined forces to provide us with a portrait of a great African leader that is rich, loving, and incisive.”
Albie Sachs, from the foreword
“Essential reading for anyone trying to understand the impact of Samora Machel on Mozambique and the African continent.”
William Minter, editor of AfricaFocus Bulletin
“Acutely attuned to the politics of memory, the authors scrutinize a diverse—often conflicting—array of public and private archival sources, memoirs, scholarly literature, and oral sources to assess the life of this remarkable, complex African leader.”
Edward A. Alpers, author of East Africa and the Indian Ocean
“Lively, accessible, and ideal for undergraduate teaching and the wider reading public."
Elizabeth Schmidt, author of Foreign Intervention in Africa after the Cold War: Sovereignty, Responsibility, and the War on Terror
The precipitous rise and controversial fall of a formidable African leader.
Samora Machel (1933–1986), the son of small-town farmers, led his people through a war against their Portuguese colonists and became the first president of the People’s Republic of Mozambique.
Machel’s military successes against a colonial regime backed by South Africa, Rhodesia, the United States, and its NATO allies enhanced his reputation as a revolutionary hero to the oppressed people of Southern Africa. In 1986, during the country’s civil war, Machel died in a plane crash under circumstances that remain uncertain.
Allen and Barbara Isaacman lived through many of these changes in Mozambique and bring personal recollections together with archival research and interviews with others who knew Machel or participated in events of the revolutionary or post-revolutionary years.
Allen F. Isaacman, Regents Professor of History at the University of Minnesota and Extraordinary Professor at the University of Western Cape, is the author of seven books, including the co-authored (with Barbara Isaacman) Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development, winner of the ASA Book Prize (formerly Herskovits Award) and the AHA Klein Prize in African History. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has won fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, among others. More info →
Barbara S. Isaacman, a retired criminal defense attorney, worked with the Mozambican Woman’s Movement (O.M.M.) and taught at the Law Faculty of the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane while living in Mozambique in the late 1970s. She wrote Mozambique—Women, the Law, and Agrarian Reform and co-authored with Allen several books, including the award-winning Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development. More info →
Review in the American Historical Review 126, no. 2, June 2021Download
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Amílcar Cabral’s charismatic and visionary leadership, his pan-Africanist solidarity and internationalist commitment to “every just cause in the world,” remain relevant to contemporary struggles for emancipation and self-determination. This concise biography is an ideal introduction to his life and legacy.
With vision, hard-nosed judgment, and biting humor, Julius Nyerere confronted the challenges of nation building in modern Africa. Constructing Tanzania out of a controversial Cold War union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, Nyerere emerged as one of independent Africa’s most influential leaders. He pursued his own brand of African socialism, called Ujamaa, with unquestioned integrity, and saw it profoundly influence movements to end white minority rule in Southern Africa.
Patrice Lumumba was a leader of the independence struggle in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the country’s first democratically elected prime minister. After a meteoric rise in the colonial civil service and the African political elite, he became a major figure in the decolonization movement of the 1950s.
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