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About the book
  • Published: 17 July 2006
  • ISBN: 9780141188034
  • Imprint: Peng. Mod. Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • RRP: $26.00

The Emperor


Formats & editions


The Penguin Modern Classics edition of Ryszard Kapuscinski's The Emperor is translated by William R. Brand and Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand, with an introduction by Neal Ascherton.
After the deposition of Haile Selassie in 1974, which ended the ancient rule of the Abyssinian monarchy, Ryszard Kapuscinski travelled to Ethiopia and sought out surviving courtiers to tell their stories. Here, their eloquent and ironic voices depict the lavish, corrupt world they had known - from the rituals, hierarchies and intrigues at court to the vagaries of a ruler who maintained absolute power over his impoverished people. They describe his inexorable downfall as the Ethiopian military approach, strange omens appear in the sky and courtiers vanish, until only the Emperor and his valet remain in the deserted palace, awaiting their fate. Dramatic and mesmerising, The Emperor is one of the great works of reportage and a haunting epitaph on the last moments of a dying regime.
Ryszard Kapuscinski (1932-2007) was born in Pinsk, now in Belarus. Kapuscinski was the pre-eminent writer among Polish reporters. His best-known book is a reportage-novel of the decline of Haile Selassie's anachronistic regime in Ethiopia - The Emperor, which has been translated into many languages. Shah of Shahs, about the last Shah of Iran, and Imperium, about the last days of the Soviet Union, have enjoyed similar success.
If you enjoyed The Emperor, you might like Norman Mailer's The Fight, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'Stunning ... a magical eloquence'
John Updike, New Yorker
'[The Emperor] transcends reportage, becoming a nightmare of power ... An unforgettable, fiercely comic, and finally compassionate book'
Salman Rushdie
'Kapuscinski trascends the limitations of journalism and writes with the narrative power of a Conrad or Kipling or Orwell'
Blake Morrison

  • Pub date: 17 July 2006
  • ISBN: 9780141188034
  • Imprint: Peng. Mod. Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • RRP: $26.00

About the Author

Ryszard Kapuscinski

Ryszard Kapuściński was born in Poland in 1932, and studied history and Polish language and literature at the University of Warsaw. As a foreign correspondent for PAP, the Polish news agency, until 1981, he was an eyewitness to revolutions and civil wars in Africa, Asia and Latin America, experiences that have made him one of the foremost writers on crises in the modern world. His texts have been published in The New York Times, Time magazine and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (among others), and have been translated into thirty languages. His books include Another Day of Life (1976; Penguin, 2001); The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat (1978), an account of the decline and fall of Haile Selassie of Ethiopia; Shah of Shahs (1982), on the last days of the Persian Shah; The Soccer War (1988), eyewitness accounts fi:om Third World countries; Imperium (1992), memoirs and essays on the Soviet Union; and four vol­umes of Lapidarium (1990, 1995, 1997 and 2000), journalistic, political and poetic notes and essays. Kapuściński has been awarded several inter­national literary prizes, such as the German Publishers' and Booksellers' Prize (1994), the Prix d'Astrolabe, France (1995), the Turzanski Founda­tion Award, Canada (1996), the Joseph Conrad Literary Award, USA (1997), the Hansische-Goethe Preis, Germany (1998), the Gottin­gen-Torun Partner Cities Literary Prize, Germany-Poland (1999) and the Premio lnternazionale Viareggio, Italy (2000). He was recendy made 'journalist of the century' in Poland.

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