Cover image for Dark age : the political odyssey of Emperor Bokassa
Dark age : the political odyssey of Emperor Bokassa
Titley, E. Brian, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press, [1997]

Physical Description:
xii, 257 pages : illustrations, map, portraits ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1240 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DT546.383.B64 T58 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This work recounts the turbulent political career of Jean-Bedel Bokassa, the flamboyant president-for-life and later emperor of the Central African Republic/Empire. Brian Titley examines the myths and legends surrounding the man, probes their origins and veracity, and attempts to provide a more balanced perspective on this controversial and misunderstood figure.


Following a lengthy career in the French army, Jean-Bedel Bokassa (1921-96) seized power in the Central African Republic in 1966. His flamboyance and excesses soon became legendary: he was accused of cannibalism, feeding enemies to lions and crocodiles, and beating schoolchildren to death. In 1977 he named himself Emperor and orchestrated a coronation in the style of Napoleon's. Bokassa was overthrown by French paratroopers in 1979 and went into exile, but returned to his homeland in 1985 to face a sensational trial.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Popular media coverage of Africa tends to focus on the disastrous and the horrific, thus continuing 19th-century stereotypes of the continent's backwardness and savagery. In the 1970s much of that coverage focused on aberrant political leaders like Idi Amin of Uganda or "Emperor" Jean Bokassa, "the cannibal megalomaniac" of the Central African Republic. Titley's political biography of the "Emperor," a model of a calm, well-written narrative, destroys those racist myths and replaces them with an intelligent history of a small, poor country and of its egotistical, naive, and basically inept ruler. Although not democratic, Bokassa was also nothing like the media creation of those who overthrew him. The book contains good analysis of the continuing role of France in its former colonies and of the international corruption that undermines much of the Third World. An engrossing story that offers much of value for understanding late-20th-century international politics. All levels. R. T. Brown; Westfield State College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Chapter 1 Colonial Interludep. 3
Chapter 2 Coup D'étatp. 19
Chapter 3 Papa Bokp. 33
Chapter 4 Extended Familyp. 51
Chapter 5 The French Connectionp. 65
Chapter 6 La Folie Des Grandeursp. 82
Chapter 7 Oui, Majesté Impérialep. 99
Chapter 8 Autumn of the Patriarchp. 105
Chapter 9 Barracudap. 125
Chapter 10 Operation Revengep. 136
Chapter 11 The New Republicp. 152
Chapter 12 La Vérité Et L'Honneurp. 166
Chapter 13 Accounting for His Stewardshipp. 181
Epiloguep. 204
Conclusionp. 208
Notesp. 219
A Note on Sourcesp. 239
Bibliographyp. 243
Indexp. 251