Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Beneath the Lion's Gaze

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Beneath the Lion's Gaze

A Novel

By Maaza Mengiste

Beneath the Lion's Gaze
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2010,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2011,
    384 pages.

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The 1974 Ethiopian Revolution
Ethiopia was a monarchy until 1974, ruled by a dynasty that can be documented back to the 13th century, and claimed by oral tradition to trace its lineage to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Emperor Haile Selassie I, born in 1892, was the country's last emperor, beginning his rule as regent in 1916 and officially becoming emperor in 1930. He was considered both a modernizer and a unifier, and was generally held in high respect by his people and the international community.

Following an attempted coup in 1960, dissatisfaction with Selassie's reign grew, as his government struggled with economic and political reforms. A severe famine and drought in 1972-74 brought food shortages and high inflation to Ethiopia which, coupled with perceived government corruption, led to general discontent among the populace. The shortages also impacted those in the military, as low pay and insufficient food and supplies led to a wide-spread mutiny among the ...

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