Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

Historical Dictionary of Madagascar

Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

Historical Dictionary of Madagascar

Article excerpt

Historical Dictionary of Madagascar, second edition. By Philip M. Alien and Maureen Covell. Historical Dictionaries of Africa, No. 98. Lanham, Md: The Scarecrow Press, 2005. Pp. lxxxiii, 420; 3 maps. $90.00.

Historians, social scientists, and all others with an interest in Madagascar owe a debt to Philip M. Alien and Maureen Covell for this comprehensive, well-organized and nicely written reference source on the Indian Ocean island's history. Through short entries on topics ranging from AFFA (a regional political party founded in the 1990s) to ZOAM (an early 1970s revolutionary association of unemployed youth who took inspiration from Clint Eastwood's spaghetti westerns), Alien and Covell provide essential information on some of the most important movements, events, personalities, groups, sites, and processes in Malagasy history. Also included here are short topical essays found under a number of key terms including ones on "corruption," "diaspora," "labor unions," "military," "rice," and "youth," to give but a few examples. In all entries, key terms for which other entries are to be found are highlighted, opening the always intriguing possibility of being led in unexpected directions.

Especially appreciated in this second edition is the considerable attention paid to the significant events that occurred following the disputed presidential election of late 2001. Under the entry heading "Crisis of 2002," the authors document the events of January to June 2002, drawing attention not only to the actions of the key players (presidential incumbent Didier Ratsiraka and his populist, and eventually victorious, opponent Marc Ravalomanana) and their parties, but also to the involvement of the labor unions, churches, students, and foreign powers (first Mauritius and the United States, then France and other countries of the European Union) who participated in ensuring a relatively peaceful, albeit drawn out and economically crippling, transition of power. …

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