Lara Pawson / News / Politics / Reviews

Wall Street Journal review In the Name of the People

How a 1977 massacre still shapes Angola today.
Wall Street Journal review In the Name of the People

Lara Pawson’s In the Name of the People narrates through personal accounts the events of the failed coup d’état carried out by Nito Alves’ followers against the then president Agostinho Neto in 1977 in Angola. In response, the forces of Neto tortured and killed thousands and thousands of people, and kept many others in jail for years.

Reviewing In the Name of the People for the Wall Street Journal, Cassie Werber has called the book both ‘engrossing and disturbing… reminding us of just how elusive historical truth can be.’

The events of May 27 – which are largely unknown to Westerners – remain discussed in hushed tones in Angola, if at all. A traumatic history, often too painful for eyewitnesses to relay, continues to shape the nation.

Cassie Werber’s explains:

‘Without concrete evidence—there are no death lists, no secret files unearthed [the events] must still find its way to a conclusion. Some members and supporters of the MPLA say no more than 2,000 people died after the coup or protest, whichever it was, while others claim 90,000 died. Do numbers matter? After a brutal, 14-year liberation war, followed by 27 years of civil war, Angola is desensitized to violence. That’s without even going into the trans-Atlantic slave trade.’

Read the review in full at the Wall Street Journal online. ■

Further reading:

An Angolan Reading List
Read the introduction to In the Name of the People
Follow Lara Pawson on Twitter @larapawson.
In the Name of the PeopleLara Pawson worked for the BBC World Service from 1998 to 2007, reporting from Mali, Ivory Coast and São Tomé and Príncipe. From 1998 to 2000, she was the BBC correspondent in Angola, covering the civil war, and has returned to the country several times since. She currently works as a freelance journalist and lives in London. 
Image shows Soldiers of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola in December 1975.
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