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On Park Hill Avenue in New York City almost everyone is Liberian Most people know one another; if not by name then by face And yet neighbours do not ask one another what they did in Liberia for the uestion is considered an accusation Many people here fled Liberia's brutal civil war a conflict that claimed the lives of one in fourteen Liberians The uestion of who is responsible is a bitter oneJacob Massauoi arrived on Park Hill Avenue in 2002 limping heavily Before he had been there a week a hundred stories abounded about his injury By this time Rufus Arkoi was the acknowledged leader of New Y. Since reading Jonny Steinberg s outstanding work of non fiction The Number I decided that it was high time to tackle one of his recent works Little Liberia What I appreciate about Steinberg s writing style is that he completely immerses himself in his subject and is one of my role models as a journalist I also appreciate the way his books are able to introduce me to worlds and people that I would never know or understand otherwiseIn this book Steinberg spends two years speaking to following around and getting to know two Liberians who fled that country s civil war only to find themselves in Staten Island New York The premise of this book is that the Liberian community which now lives in New York is frozen in time stuck in the moment that they left Liberia which includes all the factionalism and mistrust that caused the civil war in the first placeThe subjects of the story are Rufus Arkoi and Jacob Massauoi two Liberians separated both by age and clan Rufus passion is football which he uses both as a means to escape Liberia and to promote youth development in his country of exile Meanwhile Jacob stayed in Liberia for much of the war only seeking to escape after many traumatic and devastating encounters one of which leaves him with a tell tale limp that marks him in his new life of exileThe book is well written in Steinberg s typical style but I was somewhat disappointed that I didn t learn as much about the Liberian civil war as I had hoped and as I have done with similar books like Jacues Pauw s Rat Roads I did struggle to finish it and at times I felt like there was too much going on too many themes and tropes and characters to try and pull together I certainly wouldn t recommend this book to just anyone but if you find African politics interesting as well as the modern concept of exile it may well be worth it for you

review õ eBook or Kindle ePUB Ø Jonny Steinberg

Little Liberia

Ork's Liberians a man who had sat out the war in America but who harboured hopes of one day returning home to run for presidentWithin a year the two men were locked in a conflict that threatened to consume the community The suspicions and accusations the residents had bottled up for years exploded at once To observers it appeared that this enclave of exiles was frozen at the time of their flight restarting a war that had ended back homeJonny Steinberg spent two years in New York shadowing Rufus and Jacob eventually journeying to Liberia to piece together their biographies from the people who. I had no past knowledge of the historical relations between America and Liberia Steinberg weaves a beautiful narrative that has you turning the pages wanting Its a great read with some horrific scenes of genocide and cannibalism scattered along the way Be sure not to skip the epilogue Jonny is honest and extremely revealing about his thoughts in making this book a realityA couple of lines I loved It had been a long time since I had met a soul pointed so sharply and purely at the future The memories of boyhood he chooses to share with me are stylised and slim he hurries across the surface of history in his urgent manner stopping only briefly here and there like a host impatient to lead his visitor on to important things Adults and politics are sullied and useless you cannot work with them for you cannot change them they are stubborn they are difficult they reuire too much negotiation too much manoeuvring they tire you out and depress you

Jonny Steinberg Ø 3 review

Once knew them What emerges is a story of a horrific and heart wrenching civil war of a deeply troubled relationship between America and West Africa of personal ambition wrestling with moral responsibility of memory wrestling with forgetfulness and of the uest to be human in a world losing its humanityMixing history reportage and a wealth of extraordinary personal stories Jonny Steinberg takes up the tale of a fractured African nation and its diaspora to remarkable effect Little Liberia is a uniue and important book told with clarity and compassion by one of our best and brightest young write. Well written the story and writing grabbed me from the first chapter and I much irrirated I had to put the book down and go to work Steinberg clearly has done a wealth of research and I appreciate the notes and further reading sections at the end of the book He wrote about African politics in Liberia in a compassionate way I much appreciated the history lesson about the civil war in Liberia and story of immigrants such as Joseph Rufus who fled a war zone to come to America


10 thoughts on “Little Liberia

  1. says:

    Maps the histories personalities and institutions behind a political battle within Staten Island's tight knit but fractious Liberian refugee community from the perspective of a white South African journalist who spent a year living in it Helpfu

  2. says:

    Little Liberia an African Odyssey in New YorkJonny Steinberg has this knack of being able to introduce people to worlds most of us would not even consider entering – the world of prison gangs the world of cops

  3. says:

    Since reading Jonny Steinberg’s outstanding work of non fiction The Number I decided that it was high time to tackle on

  4. says:

    I had no past knowledge of the historical relations between America and Liberia Steinberg weaves a beautiful narrative that has you turning the pages wanting Its a great read with some horrific scenes of genocide and cannibalism scattered along the way Be sure not to skip the epilogue Jonny is honest and extremely revealing about his thoughts in making this book a realityA couple of lines I loved It had been a

  5. says:

    I'm an unapologetic fiction gal but Steinberg's account of Liberia Liberians New York and Americo Liberians was the most compelling non fiction account I've read of a region issue or conflict in years This should be a mandatory supplement for anyone studying Liberia in a modern or historical context or even the

  6. says:

    This book taught me so much about Liberia and its connection to the USA which I never understood before I always find it confusing when reading books about Africa that the Africans often have a love hate relationship with the USA It is also evident in this book; yet America gives them an opportunity which they otherwise would not have had

  7. says:

    I have really enjoyed Steinberg's other work especially the nonfiction book Sizwe's Test in South Africa Three Letter Plague This book was a very interesting look at two Liberian refugees in New York and how they managed to survive both the war there and the creation of a life in the US The character Jacob is

  8. says:

    Well written the story and writing grabbed me from the first chapter and I much irrirated I had to put the book down and go to work Steinberg clearly has done a wealth of research and I appreciate the notes and further reading sections at the end of the book He wrote about African politics in Liberia in a compassionate way I much appreciated the history lesson about the civil war in Liberia and story of immigrants such as Josep

  9. says:

    I did not find this book as engrossing as Steinberg's others and found myself wondering what the point of it was right up to the end I could have put this down at any stage and would not really have wondered how it ended Well written of course as always but my least favourite of his to date

  10. says:

    I liked this book about the impact of the Liberian War on two leaders of the Liberian exile community in Staten Island NY who are at odds with each other Through the lives of Jacob and Rufus we see the different nuances of this long conflict and its impact on the exile community A thoughtful and informative book