Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Ancestor Stones

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Ancestor Stones

A Novel

by Aminatta Forna

Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna X
Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2006, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2007, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

A Short History of Sierra Leone
The Republic of Sierra Leone is a small country with a population of about 5.3 million on the west coast of Africa (map) bordered by Guinea and Liberia (For more about Liberia visit The Darling at BookBrowse and click the "BookBrowse Says" link). The life expectancy of men is 39 years and women 42 years. The name is an adaptation of the Portuguese, "serra leoa" (lion mountains).

During the 18th century it was an important center for the slave trade. In the late 18th century, British abolitionists and the Sierra Leone Company founded Freetown as a home for Black Britons* and in 1808 the country became the first British colony in Africa; by 1821 Freetown was the seat of government for all British colonies in West Africa.

Sierra Leone gained its independence in 1961. In 1967 a military coup deposed Premier Siaka Stevens' government; a year later Stevens returned to power following another military coup. In 1978 Stevens declared a "one-party" state with himself as the leader of the one party. In 1985 Major-General Joseph Saidu Momoh became president following Stevens' retirement and promptly declared a state of economic emergency.

Civil war broke out in 1991 and a new multi-party constitution was adopted the same year; a year later President Momoh was ousted in a military coup led by Captain Strasser; four years later Strasser was ousted in a military coup led by his defense minister. Soon after a peace deal was signed with the rebels; but that unraveled a year later and in 1997 the UN security Council imposed sanctions against Sierra Leone barring the supply of arms and petroleum products, but a plentiful supply of naturally occuring diamonds ("blood diamonds") ensured Sierra Leone a continuous source of tradeable goods with which to buy arms.

After 8 years, a ceasefire was achieved in 1999 and UN troops arrived to police the agreement, but it was not long before the peace broke down and UN forces came under attack. Several hundred UN troops were abducted in 2000 - British forces mounted an operation to rescue the hostages and the rebel leader was captured. In 2002 peace was eventually established, and by 2004 17,000 foreign troops had disarmed more than 70,000 soldiers including many boy-soldiers (see also A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah). In 2002 it was estimated that 2/3rd of the population had been displaced by the conflict, 75,000 killed, and many thousands more had been raped or had had limbs amputated by machetes in a systematic terror campaign. Since 2002, the country has enjoyed relative peace, although there are now outbreaks of violence following the July 2007 elections.

*Black Britons (or Black Loyalists) was the term used to describe former North American slaves or free blacks who joined the British Army against the colonists in the American Revolutionary War.

This article was originally published in September 2006, and has been updated for the September 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Overstory
    The Overstory
    by Richard Powers
    Many glowing adjectives can be used to describe a novel by Richard Powers: brilliant, moving, ...
  • Book Jacket: American Histories
    American Histories
    by John E. Wideman
    In American Histories, a collection of 21 short stories, John Edgar Wideman draws America's present ...
  • Book Jacket: I Found My Tribe
    I Found My Tribe
    by Ruth Fitzmaurice
    Ruth O'Neill was only 28 when she married film director Simon Fitzmaurice in 2004. Changing her...
  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads
    by Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil

    A riveting story of survival, and the power of stories to save us.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.