Here are five relevant books about Ethiopia.

A History of Ethiopia by Harold G. Marcus

The first thing to know about a country is its history and Harold G. Marcus’s A History of Ethiopia provides a readable, concise history of the country. In this book, Harold Marcus discussed the evolution of the oldest African nation from prehistory to the present. In this updated edition, he has written a new preface, additional two new chapters, and an epilogue, detailing the development and current status of Ethiopia as a Federal state and the war with Eritrea. A History of Ethiopia is an essential guide for all who wish to understand the country’s past and embraced its present course. A history book every Ethiopian must read at least once in their lifetime.

The Face of Hunger by Dr. Byron Conner

One of the most tragic moments in Ethiopian history is the infamous 1983-1985 famine that hit the African nation and left tens and thousands dead. Dr. Byron Conner recounts these horrors in his memoir The Face of Hunger: Reflections on a Famine in Ethiopia published in 2016. The book features Dr. Conner’s mission for Ethiopia together with his wife and children to do missionary work in the country. Conner discussed details of other challenges that beset the country including territorial wars, diseases such as malaria and cholera, political stability, and the absence of a national health care system. Conner also discussed their time in the communities and how they stay in the country inspired them to continue their missionary work after returning to the country. The Face of Hunger portrays not only the famine but also the face of Ethiopia and its people. The Face of Hunger is relevant today in this time of the great pandemic.

Modernist Art in Ethiopia by Elizabeth W. Giorgis

They say that you learn a great deal about a country through their art but you also learn about its present-day people through their modern art. Published just last year, art teacher and historian Elizabeth W. Giogis traced the history of modern art in Ethiopia and how it influenced today’s Ethiopian art and culture. Giorgis also discussed the history of colonialism, in Ethiopia as well as the country’s rich cultural and political evolution. Modernist Art in Ethiopia covers not only the visual arts but also music, literature, and the intellectual community that has emerged in the past two or three decades. Giorgis’ masterpiece is an essential tool in understanding modern-day Ethiopians and the direction they are heading as a nation.

Held at a Distance by Rebecca G. Haile

Held at a Distance is a moving account by the author who is both Ethiopian and American. In her book, Rebecca G. Haile takes readers to the heart of the nation from the perspective of an exile returning to visit her country. Haile left the country with her parents in 1976, two years after the bloody coup. Now, twenty-five years later, she returns and writes about Ethiopia’s recent history and ancient past. Aside from her personal interactions with friends and relatives who remained in Ethiopia, Haile also provides detailed observations about the state of present-day Ethiopia. Held at a Distance is an important book because it offers a picture of Ethiopia from someone who is both an outsider and has roots deeply planted in this great African nation.

In Ethiopia with a Mule by Dervla Murphy

First published in 1968, In Ethiopia with a Mule is a travel book by Dervla Murphy. Together with her pack-mule named Jock, she set out a dangerous trek through Ethiopia’s most remote and violent regions. Romanticizing the stories Prester John and the Queen of Sheba, Dervla went on a quest for beauty, danger, solitude, and mystery. But what she discovered instead are rough terrain, disease, and turmoil of the Ethiopians’ domestic affairs. Nonetheless, Dervla all these challenges conquered with endurance and good humor. Her adventures included being robbed three times, finding shelter with the unusually hospitable Ethiopian highlanders, and reaching Addis Ababa. In Ethiopia with a Mule chronicle not only Murphy’s adventures and misadventures but also the lessons she learned about Ethiopia and its people, which she considers the greatest reward of her journey.