Author David Steinman
Thank you to author David Steinman for providing me with a copy of his book in exchange for this honest review.
Money, Blood & Conscience is one of the books I agreed to read in an attempt to step outside of my comfort zone. I typically don’t choose political thrillers for myself but this one seemed well informed and of a topic I previously knew next to nothing about. I chose it as a way to broaden my horizons as well as relieve myself of some ignorance, it worked on both counts.
Essentially, it’s about bringing democracy to Ethiopia. The attempt to at least, these struggles do not come easily. The book is based on true events, just told in a more digestable narrative with some romance thrown in for balance.
Money, Blood & Conscience follows Buddy, a successful television producer, who decides on a whim to help feed the Ehtiopian people. He’s been looking for a project to help him feel more fulfilled as a human and this could be the winner. He immediately gets completely absorbed into helping Ethiopia and forms a lucrative charity that has potential to do a lot of good.
I would’ve liked a little more background on Buddy’s character. I found it a little out of sorts that a trash tv producer would just overnight become a full time philanthropist for a nation to which he had no previous ties. But hey, people change and good on him for wanting to do some good.
Unfortunately, corrupt governments do make it difficult to help their starving citizens. Buddy is quickly swallowed up into a conflict far outside of his areas of expertise. The story shows how money can’t buy everything and how good intentions will only get you so far.
The “lighter” side of the story involves Buddy’s romance with an Ethiopian woman. I never fully understood their relationship outside of both wanting what’s best for Ethiopia. However, they are never in full agreement what course of action is best. They are also never in agreement as to the nature of their relationship and what their end goals are. They really need to communicate more and Buddy needs to stop assuming everyone everywhere wants to drop everything to live in America.
The bulk of Money, Blood & Conscience (I’m sorry, brief aside, it’s driving me crazy that the title doesn’t utilize an Oxford comma and I find it difficult to type it every time!) demonstrates how destitute life in Ethiopia can be. It bluntly showcases atrocities committed against civilians by their own government or factions thereof. It also discusses horrors like forced female circumcision and how it is so commonplace there the victim might not even know to be upset. There were times during reading this novel that I had to pause and take a breath before continuing.
Unfortunately, these events are all based in fact and it’s impossible to turn a blind eye to them. Or we’d all like to think that wouldn’t we? The truth is, we all do, all the time. One of the biggest takeaways from Money, Blood & Conscience is that it is actually incredibly easy to ignore genocide if you have the privilege to do so. Anyone reading this review right now likely has a bit of that pivilege.
This political thriller succeeded in my goals for it. I learned a lot about Ethiopian culture, not just the genocide parts but some cultural traditions as well, and I felt outside of my comfort zone but in a productive way. It’s books like these that challenge our perceptions of the world we live in and highlights the parts we would all rather ignore. Step outside of your comfort zone and check it out.
4/5 Ethiopian Flags 🇪🇹🇪🇹🇪🇹🇪🇹
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