I have gotten into some fantastic books lately and I just have to pass them on. I heard about some of them in a podcast from the BBC book program. The topic was fiction book that recreated history in an accurate way. Using the Internet and the following books, I was able to fill in some gaps in my knowledge of world history in a very entertaining way.
The Catastrophist by Ronan Bennett is set in the Belgian Congo in the early 1960's. The plot centers on two writers who are caught up in the rise and fall of the charismatic leader, Patrice Lamumba. I remember the headlines vaguely, but was never able to set the memories in a clear context. The story focuses on a writer, James, and his Italian correspondent lover, Inez. While the book focuses on the relationship between these two, the awful history of that era unfolds with a nice balance.
Another book recommended was My Enemy's Cradle by Sara Young.
This was set in Holland and Germany during WWII and is about the Lebensborn program conceived by Heinrich Himmler. The purpose of these camps was to birth and rear Aryan babies for the Fuhrer. Cyrla is half Jewish and she takes the place of her Aryan looking pregnant cousin in one of the camps. The book is well written and compelling and deals with a subject that is little known.
Next I found Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which takes place in Nigeria and concerns the break-away state of Biafra. The story is told through the eyes of 13 year old houseboy, Ugwu. I remember seeing the starving children in Biafra and I sent some money, more than I could afford, for their relief, but never really understood the politics of their suffering. This book shows the reader the conflict from various people's viewpoint and I felt gave a good synopsis of the conflict. As with the other two books, this was very well written.