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King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia

by Asfa-Wossen Asserate Haus Publishing Limited
Pub Date:
Pbk 336 pages
AU$54.99 NZ$56.51
Product Status: In Stock Now
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Haile Selassie I, the last emperor of Ethiopia, was as brilliant as he was formidable. An early proponent of African unity and independence who claimed to be a descendant of King Solomon, he fought with the Allies against the Axis powers during World War II and was a messianic figure for the Jamaican Rastafarians. But the final years of his empire saw turmoil and revolution, and he was ultimately overthrown and assassinated in a communist coup.


Written by Asfa-Wossen Asserate, Haile Selassie’s grandnephew, this is the first major biography of this final “king of kings.” Asserate, who spent his childhood and adolescence in Ethiopia before fleeing the revolution of 1974, knew Selassie personally and gained intimate insights into life at the imperial court. Introducing him as a reformer and an autocrat whose personal history—with all of its upheavals, promises, and horrors—reflects in many ways the history of the twentieth century itself, Asserate uses his own experiences and painstaking research in family and public archives to achieve a colorful and even-handed portrait of the emperor.


Prologue: Who Was Haile Selassie?

Notes on the text


1. A childhood in Harar

2. Two Cousins vie for power

3. The Ethiopian Machiavelli

4. The Elect of God

5. The darkest of God

6. The Lion of Judah returns

7. Shots across the bows

8. Shaking hands with history

9. An empty house

10. Haile Selassie’s legacy


Ethiopian Imperial Titles, in descending order of rank


Family tree


Picture credits



Publishers Weekly

“A multifaceted picture of the so-called Father of Africa.”


Foreword Reviews

“A thorough and in-depth view of this larger-than-life figure. . . . Intertwines history, geography, politics, religion, and human interest to form a fascinating narration that covers much of the landscape of the twentieth century.”



“A tautly written, remarkably even-handed account of successful autocracy.”



“Haile Selassie is one of the most bizarre and misunderstood figures in 20th-century history, alternately worshipped and mocked, idolised and marginalised. This magnificent biography by the German-Ethiopian historian Asfa-Wossen Asserate (a distant relation of Selassie), and translated by Peter Lewis, is diligently researched and fair-minded; he is at last accorded a proper dignity.”


Literary Review

“This rather splendid book . . . can best be described as a sober and rational assessment of the extremely long and complex life of the most eminent African ruler of the 20th century.”
Asfa-Wossen Asserate, Born in Addis Ababa is an author and corporate consultant who resides in Frankfurt am Main