Here is a brief selection of favorite, new and hard-to-find books, prepared for your journey. You will find below direct links to Amazon where you will be able to purchase the following recommended books in your preferred format.

Essential

Ryszard Kapuscinski
The Emperor, Downfall of an Autocrat
In 1975, Kapuscinski traveled throughout Ethiopia and listened to stories about the Supreme Emperor Haile Selassie told by the servants and associates that surrounded him while Ethiopia collapsed around him. Kapuscinski transformed the interviews into a powerful narrative of the high living and unimaginable abuse within the ancient regime.

 

Nega Mezlekia
Notes from the Hyena’s Belly, An Ethiopian Boyhood
A memoir of childhood in Ethiopia after the downfall of Emperor Haile Selassie. Mezlekia, who was born in Jigiga in 1958, chronicles his early childhood, youthful political activism and conscription into a guerrilla army.

 

Sarah Howard
Culture Smart! Ethiopia
A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture, equally of interest to the traveler and business person.

 

 

Philip Briggs
Bradt Guide Ethiopia
A region-by-region overview of the country with brief introductory chapters on wildlife, culture and history for the traveler. Includes 65 maps and a section of color photographs.

 

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Ethiopia Map
A full-color, shaded relief map of Ethiopia at a scale of 1:2,000,000, featuring an inset of central Adis Ababa and an index of place names.

 

Also Recommended

Tilahun Gabriel
Lonely Planet Ethiopia Amharic Phrasebook
A handy phrasebook for Amharic basics. This guide focuses on pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.

 

 

Harold Marcus
A History of Ethiopia
A challenging, in-depth survey of Africa’s oldest nation, ranging from prehistory to 1991; organized chronologically, it features three chapters on the long reign of Haile Sellassie — his rise to power and eventual overthrow.

 

Alan Moorehead
The Blue Nile
In this grand history of exploration and events on the great river from 1798 to 1869, Moorehead follows the course of the Blue Nile from the Ethiopian highlands through Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean.

 

Jacques Mercier
Lalibela: Christian Art of Ethiopia, the Monolithic Churches and Their Treasures
Lalibela in Ethiopia, Mercier’s treatment covers the history, architectural, cultural significance (even the manuscripts and furnishings!) of the historic place.

 

Maitland Armstrong Edey, Donald Johanson
Lucy, The Beginnings of Humankind
The original, influential account of the thrilling discovery of Lucy in 1974 and the impact of the discovery on ideas about human evolution.

 

Tahir Shah
In Search of King Solomon’s Mines
A man with a passion for tracking down oddball legends and impossible stories, Shah tackles, in this rollicking account, Ethiopia and the legendary home of the Queen of Sheba.

 

Graham Hancock
The Sign and the Seal, The Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant
A page-turning yarn of adventure, amazing persistence, and scholarship, which follows Hancock’s 1983 visit to Axum, Ethiopia, the legendary resting place of the Ark of the
Covenant.

 

Dinaw Mengestu
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
In this powerful debut novel, Mengestu follows the fate and fortunes of Sepha Stephanos, an Ethiopian immigrant who runs a grocery store in a poor black neighborhood in Washington D.C. Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award and a New York Times Notable Book.

 

Maaza Mengiste
Beneath the Lion’s Gaze
A powerful novel that opens in Addis Ababa
on the eve of the 1974 revolution and follows the heartbreaking story of a family across a ravaged Ethiopia.

 

Abraham Verghese
Cutting for Stone
Verghese’s powerful tale of the coming-of-age
of orphaned twin brothers, sons of an Indian
nun and a British surgeon, moves from Addis
Ababa on the brink of revolution to New York
and back again.

Ber van Perlo
Birds of Eastern Africa, Princeton Illustrated Checklists
This is a fully updated edition of the only pocket guide that illustrates and describes all 1,487 bird species of eastern Africa, an area that includes Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Yemen’s Socotra Island. This huge region’s rich birdlife includes some of the most colorful species anywhere on earth–including ostriches, albatrosses, boobies, lovebirds, parrots, parakeets, kingfishers, and bee-eaters.

 

Jonathon Kingdon
Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals
A conveniently compact edition of Kingdon’s celebrated guide, that includes information on distribution, ecology and conservation status, with 480 outstanding color illustrations and maps.