Kapuscinski always rewarding
Like Shadow of the Sun, The Emperor exhibits Kapuscinski's taught, impressionistic style. The Emperor paints a picture of the court of Emperor Haile Selassie. Kapuscinski puts his reporter skills to work to track down the remaining, aging, hidden courtiers from Ethiopia's last monarch. Those courtiers (or Mr. Kapuscinski's editing) speak eloquently of the height, decline and fall of Solomon's last imperial court.
Once again, Kapuscinski does not offer any overt analysis. Nor does he offer traditional historical narrative. Rather, through his own great travels and writing, he transports us to the end of an era in one of Africa's exceptional kingdoms.
Much like Montefiore's treatment of Stalin, the Emperor creates an impression of its subject primarily through the prism of the courtiers, rather than the man himself. This is a unique and important book both for its style and historic value. However, Shadow of the Sun offers an easier and more rewarding introduction to Kapuscinksi's work.