THOMAS SANKARA, a revolutionary in Cold War Africa

: Peterson (B.)

R 695.00
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333pp., illus., map, paperback, Bloomington, 2021


Brian J. Peterson's biography of revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara who came to power in Burkina Faso in 1983. He was assassinated in 1987 at the age of 37 in a plot led by his close friend Blaise Compaoré.

"Thomas Sankara was a charismatic leader who emerged in Burkina Faso after the original promises of Africa's independence had faded amidst numerous betrayals.  Although he held power for only four years (1983-87), his revolutionary vision for ending corruption and uplifting the masses generated enthusiasm and hope across Africa, and his brutal assassination made him a martyr whose legacy still lingers. Brian Peterson's meticulously researched and beautifully written biography of Sankara draws on over one hundred interviews and mines previously unused archives to paint an intimate and nuanced portrait of hopes shattered and dreams unrealized during the second generation of West Africa's independence." Robert Harms, Henry J. Heinz Professor of History and African Studies, Yale University

"This is a well-written, thoroughly researched, clearly presented biography of Thomas Sankara that pays attention to the strengths and weaknesses of its subject and placing his attainments and failures within the broad context of Burkina Faso history, politics, and culture, as well as the larger context of African and global affairs in the closing decades of the last century. Biographies of African leaders and thinkers are few and when they are available, they barely rise above the level of hagiography or excoriation. Brian J. Peterson avoids both pitfalls." Olúfemi Táiwo, Cornell University, author of Africa Must Be Modern

Brian J. Peterson is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Africana Studies Program at Union College. He is author of Islamization from Below: The making of Muslim communities in rural French Sudan, 1880–1960