Book review: There Was a Country, By Chinua Achebe

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The pioneering Nigerian novelist, a moral mentor to his nation, died this year but left us with this relaxed, intimate - and acute - "personal history of Biafra".

In fact, Achebe does much more than recount the blundering horrors of the 1960s civil war. He recalls his Igbo childhood and culture, reflects on colonialism and its aftermath, and castigates the curses of militarism and corruption.

Fresh-painted memories enliven even sombre events: such as his tribute to the poet-soldier – Africa's Wilfred Owen – Christopher Okigbo.