- Paperback: 166 pages
- Publisher: Createspace Independent Pub (18 July 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 151513136X
- ISBN-13: 978-1515131366
- Product Dimensions: 18.9 x 1 x 24.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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An African Millionaire Paperback – Import, 18 Jul 2015
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Although several of its chapters have been anthologized separately by modern editors as if they are short stories, many other chapters would be very unsatisfying if read as stand-alones--some because Colonel Clay (as the confidence man is usually called) plays little or no part in them; others because they have to do with the capture and trial of the confidence man. When read in their proper order, the 12 chapters form a connected whole and, especially towards the end, thrust upon the reader a "message" about the class of people that the African millionaire (the supposed victim) represents.
Like many novels written by Allen's contemporaries, who included Thomas Hardy, this book is "didactic" in the best sense. Specifically, it is an example of what Aristotle called "forensic rhetoric," detailing chapter by chapter the petty, sleazy, shady, and unscrupulous sides of a typical wealthy businessman of the late 19th century. Colonel Clay, the confidence man, is used by Allen as a minor rogue to show readers what the really big rogues are like. At the end, while the conman is being tried, convicted, and sentenced, the world-within-the-novel learns the full details of the totally "legal" crookedness of the millionaire, who ironically is free to continue plundering every which way he likes, fully protected by the law. Near the end the trial, the judge who summarizes the evidence says that in this case the law is set up to protect rogues from being preyed on by other rogues.
The story is narrated by the brother-in-law of the millionaire (a man of weak morals himself), and for the most part Allen's writing is quite witty and engaging. Although AN AFRICAN MILLIONAIRE was written more than a century ago, its message is a relevant one to anybody who has been following news these past few years.
Very highly recommended!