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Haile Selassie

Ethiopia's Last Emperor

Haile Selassie was born in 1892 and became emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. He was imprisoned in 1974 by revolutionaries, and died the following year under mysterious circumstances. Many believe he was murdered.

The emperor's body was exhumed in 1992, and his funeral finally took place on November 5, 2000. Haile Selassie was Ethiopia's last emperor. Today Ethiopia is a federal republic.


The Rastafarian religion arose in Jamaica in the 20th century. Its name is derived from Emperor Haile Selassie's original name, Ras (meaning "Prince") Tafari.

There is no single central Rastafarian church, but in general Rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie was the Messiah and that Africa, especially Ethiopia, is heaven on earth. These beliefs are based in part on interpretations of Old Testament prophecies. Haile Selassie himself was Christian and not a Rastafarian.

Haile Selassie
Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Books About Haile Selassie

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Book Categories: Emperor, Family, Government, Revolution, Rastafarianism, Other, Ethiopia, Africa

The Emperor's Life

My Life and Ethiopia's Progress by Emperor Haile Sellassie. Autobiography.

King of Kings: The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia by Asfa-Wossen Asserate, translated by Peter Lewis. Written by the emperor's grandnephew, this biography introduces Haile Selassie as a reformer and autocrat whose personal history reflects in many ways the history of the 20th century.

Beyond the Throne: The Enduring Legacy of Emperor Haile Selassie I by Indrias Getachew. Endorsed by the royal family, this is a detailed look at one of the prominent figures of the 20th century. Includes never-before-seen photographs of the emperor.

Emperor Haile Selassie by Bereket Habte Selassie. The author, who served in important positions in Haile Selassie's government, tells both the story of the emperor's life and the story of modern Ethiopia.

Haile Selassie: His Rise, His Fall by Haggai Erlich. Tells the multifaceted, sometimes tragic, story of the emperor and modern Ethiopia.

Haile Sellassie I: The Formative Years 1892-1936 by Harold G. Marcus. Biography of the young emperor.

War and Exile

Prevail: The Inspiring Story of Ethiopia's Victory Over Mussolini's Invasion, 1935-1941 by Jeff Pearce. In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia. But Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, his soldiers, and the world said no. Includes never-before-seen photos.

Haile Selassie's War: Haile Selassie, Lion of Judah, Africa's Greatest Military Leader by Anthony Mockler. Describes feudal Ethiopia; the Italian invasion of Ethiopia; and how Selassie fought his way back into control of his empire, despite all the attempts to stop him, even by his allies the British.

Imperial Exile by Keith Bowers. This book tells the story of Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie's exile in Bath, England in the 1930s after his country was invaded by Italy.

The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat by Ryszard Kapuscinski, William R. Brand, and Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand. Based on recollections of those who knew Selassie.

Wife and Family

The Biography of Empress Menen Asfaw: The Mother of the Ethiopian Nation by Anjahli Parnell. About the life of the wife of Ethiopia's last emperor, Haile Selassie. Includes photographs.

Politics and Government

The Emperor's Clothes: A Personal Viewpoint on Politics and Administration in the Imperial Ethiopian Government 1941-1974 by Gaitachew Bekele. Written by an Ethiopian government official.

The Bureaucratic Empire: Serving Emperor Haile Selassie by Seyoum A. Haregot. A detailed look at the administrative and legislative effort to reform the government of Ethiopia during 1957-1974.

Books About the Ethiopian Revolution

The Ethiopian Revolution, 1974-1991: From a Monarchial Autocracy to a Military Oligarchy by Teffera Haile-Selassie. The former Ethiopian ambassador to Britain provides a candid critique of Ethiopia's troubled political history. He analyzes Haile Selassie's reign and assesses the legacy of Marxist military regimes that ruled until 1991.

The Ethiopian Revolution 1974-1987: A Transformation From an Aristocratic to a Totalitarian Autocracy by Andargachew Tiruneh. A comprehensive account of the Ethiopian revolution, dealing with almost the entire span of the revolutionary government's life.

Law, Development, and the Ethiopian Revolution by Paul H. Brietzke. A survey of Ethiopian affairs, focusing on the overthrow of the monarchy during the 1974 revolution.

Marxist Modern: An Ethnographic History of the Ethiopian Revolution by Donald L. Donham. A cultural history of the Ethiopian revolution that highlights the role of modernist ideas.

Books About Rastafarianism

The Kebra Negast: The Lost Bible of Rastafarian Wisdom and Faith from Ethiopia and Jamaica edited by Gerald Hausman, introduction by Ziggy Marley. Scholars date the Kebra Negast to the 14th century, but it retells the stories of Biblical times. Gerald Hausman presents the core narrative of the Kebra Negast and injects his own encounters with Rastafarians. (Review © Amazon.com)

Rastafari: Roots and Ideology by Barry Chevannes. An in-depth look at the religion.

The Rastafari Ible by Jahson Atiba Alemu I. A chronology of Ethiopian kings from Menelik I to Haile Sellassie I, written from a Rastafarian point of view.

From Babylon to Rastafari: Origin and History of the Rastafarian Movement by Douglas R.A. Mack.

The Holy Piby by Shepherd Robert Athlyi Rogers. First published in 1924, this "Black Man's Bible" influenced the development of the Rastifarian movement.


The Lion of Judah in the New World by Theodore M. Vestal. Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and the shaping of Americans' attitudes toward Africa.

Other Books

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Wikipedia - Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia
Emperor Haile Selassie
Haile Selassie's 1936 Appeal to the League of Nations
The Dread Library: Haile Selassie
A Sketch of Rastafari History

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