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Let a coffee table book be what it is

August 30, 2007

Regarding your book review of "Swahili Chic: The Feng Shui of Africa" ["Luxury, Serenity in East Africa," Aug. 23]: If you want to read a book that contains depth and detail about "the continent's brutal past, its uninvited foreign influences and current events," I recommend Martin Meredith's "The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair," 750 pages of journalism about Africa's countries.

How can you expect a 250-page coffee table photographic book on the interior design of the islands of East Africa to even attempt to broach this gargantuan topic? Is the continent's history so insignificant or so uniform that it can be summed up in a few short blithe pages? Is the only valid story of any and every part of Africa limited to the negative?

I am tired of this myopic perspective of all topics African. I welcome a book like "Swahili Chic" that delves into the charm of an African culture and shows us how much more there is to African societies than what newspaper headlines communicate.

Bill Lowry

Los Angeles

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