Since gaining their independence from Belgium forty years ago, the people of the Congo have endured a never-ending stream of violent political upheavals, natural disasters and failed social and economic experiments. For the persistently repressed and impoverished Congolese, survival has often proved an arduous act of sheer will. None of this nascent African nation has remained untouched by the brutality of war and its everyday consequences. By the Grace of God is a heartfelt and harrowing firsthand account of the author's dramatic life in this ravaged African nation. The story centers on Suruba Georgette, a free-spirited tomboy who overcomes war, a broken home and living under a dictatorship to earn a master's degree, and through extraordinary circumstances, becomes an American citizen, a loving wife and mother. Also featured are her sister, Josée, and their father, Benoit, the son of the village chief. In a land torn apart by racism, bigamy and the oppression of women, he instills in his daughters the highest ethical standards and an unquenchable passion for education and freedom. Through the prism of these three singular lives, we see the story of their nation, a land bountifully blessed with natural and human resources, but cursed with a modern history of miserable poverty, devastating wars, spectacularly corrupt tyranny and the scourge of AIDS, which strikes Josée as a young adult. By the Grace of God traces this riveting modern history of the Congo as this family lives it; from the brutal racism of the Belgian colonial administrators to the thrill of independence and the horrors of civil war, through the tragedy of Mobutu's corrupt 32-year dictatorship to the revolution that ousted the tyrant. It also provides a compelling insider's look at many little-known aspects of Congolese culture: polygamy, witchcraft, ancestor worship, possession, hunting pygmies and statutory rape by priests who have come to save the so-called "infidels". Georgette's remarkable story transcends national, geographical and cultural boundaries, and becomes a stirring, inspirational - and ultimately universal - tale of love, family and survival.