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May 2018 Vol. 55 No. 9

Ohio University Press/Swallow Press

The following review appeared in the May 2018 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences
History, Geography & Area Studies - Africa

Ocobock, Paul. An uncertain age: the politics of manhood in Kenya. Ohio University, 2017. 356p bibl index ISBN 9780821422632, $80.00; ISBN 9780821422649 pbk, $34.95; ISBN 9780821445983 ebook, contact publisher for price.

As Kenya teeters on the brink of chaos because of raging political conflict between Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, the sons of the last generation's political opponents, historian Ocobock (Notre Dame) adds a timely addition to the discourse. With a sure command of the literature, Ocobock argues for the increased importance of gender and generation for historical research. He notes the two social categories created by initiation rituals that solidified Kenyans, otherwise separated by ethnicity, class, and territory. Introducing the historical perspective, the author discusses the British colonial interest in these cultural phenomena and its attempts to mitigate against this cohesive outcome. The core of the book, based on archival material and in-depth interviews, contrasts the colonial era "elder state" to the contemporary postcolonial situation. Although these chapters are informative and detailed, the introductory chapter alone is worth the "price of admission." Like the country itself, it is slightly chaotic but admirably youthful, energetic, optimistic, and brimming with ideas for the future.

--W. Arens, Stony Brook University

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above; professionals.