Money, Blood and Conscience by David Steinman
Set in California and Ethiopia. Dissatisfied with the trivialities of his job and the emptiness of his personal life, television producer Buddy Schwartz founds ‘Help Ethiopia’ to raise millions of dollars to feed Ethiopians starving under the government-induced famine to wipe out unwanted populations. In Ethiopia, he meets and befriends the rebel leader, Meles Zenawi and falls in love with the enigmatic Hanna.
When Meles takes control, Buddy, struggling to stay out of politics, has to face the unpalatable truth that the aid he is delivering to the hungry is freeing up more of the government’s money to spend on repressive policies. His wife Hanna leaves him to join the new opposition.
The three main characters, Buddy, Hanna and Meles, are very human. All are idealistic, although their idealism takes them in different directions. The evolving relationships between them is developed well.
This book is aptly named. It is an engrossing story that uses fiction and fictional character to relate a true and horrific episode in the history of Ethiopia in the context of the continent’s struggle to emerge from its dark past. The decisions that face Buddy and Hanna and even Meles show how good people are sometimes forced to make bad choices because sometimes there are no good choices. It is an epic story that shines a light on another genocide of our time. It is not light reading, but there is a section I found hilarious: when Buddy gets married, Ethiopian style.
I do enjoy a historical novel that informs as it entertains.