Recommended Reading

Sierra Leonean Non-Fiction

A Dirty War in West Africa: The RUF and the Destruction of Sierra Leone

Lansana Gberie


This is the best account of Sierra Leone’s disastrous civil war, written by a Sierra Leonean journalist. It is particularly valued as a piece written by an African amidst numerous accounts of the war by Westerners.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Ishmael Beah

This is the heart wrenching tale of a child soldier in the RUF during Sierra Leone’s civil war. The memoir describes how young boys were brainwashed by RUF leaders to perform unspeakable acts of murder, rape, and torture. There is some debate as to whether this book is a true memoir or fictionalized memoir.


Green Oranges on Lion Mountain

Emily Joy


This is the somewhat lighthearted account of a young Scottish surgeon’s experiences practicing a very primitive form of medicine in Mende country. Her work in Sierra Leone is cut short by the beginning of the civil war.

The Devil That Danced on Water

Aminatta Forna

Written by a diasporic Sierra Leonean woman, Forna uses memoir/historical fiction to uncover the reasons and actions leading to her politician father’s death in Sierra Leone as post-colonial democracy shifted toward dictatorship.

West African Fiction

Anthills of the Savannah

Chinua Achebe


Written almost thirty years (1987) after Things Fall Apart, this novel’s focus is on the corruption of the governing elites in newly independent African countries.

Half of a Yellow Sun

Chimamanda Adichie


A hauntingly beautiful account of the struggle for an independent Biafra in Nigeria demonstrates the loving relationships that endure through a tumultuous decade. The books appropriately complicates the intersections of colonialism, class, and ethnicity.

Purple Hibiscus

Chimamanda Adichie


The first novel of a talented Nigerian writer, this work describes the tensions in one African family between Western values and African tribal values.

Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe


This is one of the great novels of the twentieth century because of its consistently African viewpoint and its marvelous depiction of African village life in Nigeria prior to the arrival of the British colonists. It also describes the early encounters between British officials and local Africans, all seen from an African viewpoint.

Development Readings

Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty

Muhammed Yunus


A definitive book written as a memoir about the birth of micro lending as a means to end poverty. Yunus demonstrates the ability of the poor to help themselves with access to small amounts of credit, which won him and the micro-lending Grameen Bank the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa

Dambisa Moyo


Zambian native Moyo finds that international aid creates dependency and encourages corruption and is somewhat at fault for the lack of African development. Moyo offers numerous free market mechanisms as solutions for African development.

Development as Freedom

Amartya Sen


Winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Economics, Sen promotes development as a means and end for political freedom. He focuses on India and China yet his interjection of morality and ethics into economic development is extremely refreshing. With h5 promotion for human-based development, Sen offers a unique, thought-provoking analysis of development.

Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty

Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman


Written by two Wall Street Journal reporters with decades of experience in Africa, this book is a detailed description of the agricultural challenges facing Africa and an analysis of the complex political dynamics of the global food industry.

Globalization and its Discontents

Joseph Stiglitz


Finding that a one-size-fits-all economic development policies can do more harm than good under the age of gloablization, Stiglitz asks readers to reconsider how development institutions work with developing countries. A balanced book, recognizing the potential benefits of globalization while simultaneously criticizing some of its uses, this book is a great start for anyone trying to understand the complexities of globalization and its impact of developing countries.

The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation State

Basil Davidson


This is an amazing book because of the breadth and depth of the author’s understanding of the harmful effects of colonialism in Africa and the disastrous mistakes made by the leaders of newly independent African countries.

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time

Jeffrey Sachs


This is perhaps the best-known book about ending poverty worldwide. It advocates an increase in international aid by developed countries spread across 9 steps that will move those in extreme poverty onto the first rung of the economic development ladder.

The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the future of the World

Michelle Goldberg


While this book deals with the difficulties of women worldwide, the sections on the virtual enslavement of some African women are very revealing. Goldberg’s powerful work has one whole chapter devoted to the widespread practice of female genital mutilation in Sierra Leone.

The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working

Robert Calderisi


This book describes in detail the ineffectiveness of foreign aid in Africa and offers some possibilities for changing that circumstance.

The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good

William Easterly


A former World Bank economist cites international development’s top-down approach without consultation with poor as the fundamental cause for aid ineffectiveness. A scathing review of the actions of organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Easterly asks readers to look critically at international development and globalization.