In this firsthand account of a woman’s journey back to her homeland, Rebecca Haile’s Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia gives readers a powerful and unique glimpse into a fascinating African country.
Few books have dealt with the millions of Ethiopians affected by war and strife in their country. Rebecca Haile’s book brings into focus the challenges and consequences of three decades of political upheaval in Ethiopia. She offers a clear-eyed analysis of the country today, and her keen observations and personal experiences will resonate with readers.
“Part travelogue, part history, part memoir, Rebecca Haile’s Held at a Distance shines a bright and unique light on Ethiopia, a country in whose fortunes we as Americans and Westerners have been concerned for some time, but which remains in large part a mystery to many of us...Today, Ethiopia, for far too many people, is synonymous with poverty and warfare; but for generations of African-Americans, it was the font of black civilization itself, the spiritual source of visions of a united and prosperous Pan-Africa, the living testament to the glories that were Black Africa. In her bold new book, Haile moves far beyond the one-dimensional headlines that encapsulate Ethiopia in the Western press to provide as rich and nuanced a portrait of her native land as I have seen. It’s an important and beautifully written volume.” Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
"This is the story of an Ethiopian child who became an American adult, and then returned to rediscover her country of origin after twenty-five years. What she discovers is the difficulty and dangers of defining identity in our contemporary world, a well-nigh universal problem. This is a memoir that reads like a novel, and encourages thoughtful reflection on our dilemmas." Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University