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Michela Wrong Reviews King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia by Asfa-Wossen Asserate

King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of EthiopiaVerdict: carrot

A full-scale biography has been missing up till now, perhaps because the emperor recorded a detailed, if partial, memoir with the British historian Edward Ullendorff. This latest account, translated from German, is particularly welcome because Asfa-Wossen Asserate, a prince by birth, is Haile Selassie’s great nephew. His nobleman father went from rallying support for the emperor during a first failed coup in 1960 to begging his ageing leader to abdicate, and was finally one of 60 officials executed during a second, successful coup which ushered in a military dictatorship. So in theory this is that precious thing: an African history written by an insider.

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