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Catalog Archive / Fall 2020

I Give You Half the Road

“Written in an accessible and engaging narrative nonfiction style, this book shares the story of five young people who come of age during the tumultuous democratic transition in the Ivory Coast. Spindel’s honest storytelling, close friendships with everyday Ivoirians, and more than thirty-five years of experience in the country shine in this riveting account.”
—William Moseley, Macalester College

In the Ivory Coast, the farewell "I give you half the road" is an expression of hospitality, urging a departing guest to come back again. After their first stay in the welcoming rural community of Kalikaha in 1981, Carol Spindel and her husband did just that. Over the course of decades, they built a house and returned frequently, deepening their relationships with neighbors.

Once considered the most stable country in West Africa, the Ivory Coast was split by an armed rebellion in 2002 and endured a decade of instability and a violent conflict. Spindel provides an intimate glimpse into this turbulent period by weaving together the daily lives and paths of five neighbors. Their stories reveal Ivorians determined to reunite a divided country through reliance on mutual respect and obligation even while power-hungry politicians pursued xenophobic and anti-immigrant platforms for personal gain. Illuminating democracy as a fragile enterprise that must be continually invented and reinvented, I Give You Half the Road emphasizes the importance of connection, generosity, and forgiveness.


Carol Spindel is the author of In the Shadow of the Sacred Grove and Dancing at Halftime: Sports and the Controversy over American Indian Mascots. She taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for more than twenty-five years and currently teaches at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.




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I Give You Half the Road: Abstract painting by Tamsir Dia on the top half, with a black block containing the title text on the bottom. The painting has a primarily white background, with various black, yellow, blue, and red lines and imperfect shapes.

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February 2021
328 pp. 6 x 9
13 b/w illus., 2 maps

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Cloth $36.95
ISBN 9780299330507
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