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The Scramble for Africa: White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876 to 1912 Paperback – December 1, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0380719990 ISBN-10: 0380719991

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The Scramble for Africa: White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876 to 1912 + King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 738 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Books (December 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380719991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380719990
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In scarcely half a generation during the late 1800s, six European powers sliced up Africa like a cake. The pieces went to Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Belgium; among them, they acquired 30 new colonies and 110 million subjects. Although African rulers resisted, many battles were one-sided massacres. In 1904 the Hereros, a tribe of southwest southwest, if not a country name Africa, revolted against German rule. Their punishment was genocide--24,000 driven into the desert to starve; those who surrendered were sent to forced labor camps to be worked to death. In a dramatic, gripping chronicle, Pakenham ( The Boer War ) floodlights the "dark continent" and its systematic rape by Europe. At center stage are a motley band of explorers, politicians, evangelists, mercenaries, journalists and tycoons blinded by romantic nationalism or caught up in the scramble for loot, markets and slaves. In an epilogue Pakenham tells how the former colonial powers still dominate the economies of the African nations, most of which are under one-party or dictatorial rule. Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In his excellent study of the Boer War ( The Boer War , LJ 11/1/79), Pakenham demonstrated his ability to handle a great mass of material and a complicated subject in a fashion that produces a readable, highly credible account. Here he turns those same skills to good effect in the infinitely more complex issue of the European exploitation of Africa, which followed close on the heels of exploration of the so-called "dark continent's" interior. The result is a sweeping narrative, refreshingly old fashioned in its appreciation of the fact that imperialism did have some virtues, which offers as good an introduction to the "scramble" as has ever been written. Essential for both public and academic libraries.
- Jim Casada, Winthrop Coll., Rock Hill, S.C.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Well written and most of it was quite interesting to read.
R.L.D.
His writing is vivid and fast paced, and he brings these characters and events to life with a novelist's skill.
Ryan Murdock
That's not necessarily a bad thing, just the author's choice in determining the scope of this book.
jasoneducator

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 1997
Format: Paperback
"Scramble for Africa" is a military and diplomatic history of Victorian African exploration.

As a whole, the book is very good. The events are presented in a chronological order, cutting back and forth between the actions and maneuvers of the Great (Britain, France, and Germany) and Minor Powers (primarily Belgium) in different parts of the continent. One very import item making this book so informative is the use of maps. Parkenham has included enough maps to place all the actions. Frequently, histories need a period atlas in hand for reference. This one doesn't.

"Scramble" is about politicians, soldiers, merchants, missionaries, and explorers. Readers interested in the personalities (King Leopold of Begium, Gladstone, Livingston, Ali Pasha, etc.) who shaped the events in the European conquest of Africa and the early Imperialist era will get the most from the book. I personally found King Leopold to be like a spider in the web as he plotted to found the Belgian Congo. In general, Britains and Anglo-Saxons come out rather well in this history and Europeans and Middle Easterners less well.

If I can find fault in "Scramble" its because it is too Anglo-centric. The British historical contribution to the period and events is very detailed. The French less so. The Portogeuse, Spanish, and Italian is almost absent or incidental. For example, British Imperial expeditions are described right down to the participating units (Guards Grenadiers, etc.); while French expeditionary missions described confuse Colonial Marines with Legion units.

Even though this is a military and diplomatic history, the economic aspect of the story is missing. The search for gold I can understand.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By T. Graczewski VINE VOICE on January 3, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It would be an understatement to write that Thomas Pakenham embraced an ambitious project in crafting a comprehensive, single-volume history of the European colonization of Africa over the course of some four decades a century ago. Few authors could have succeeded after having bitten off so much. Fewer still could have made it accessible to the layman and an immensely enjoyable read at that. Pakenham is the rare talent able to pull off such a feat.

The story Pakenham tells involves countless actors, but at the center of the great conquest from beginning to end is the Belgian King Leopold, whose imperial actions, clothed in the righteous language of development and humanitarianism, did more than anyone else to spur on the exploration and exploitation of Africa. As Pakenham describes him, "Leopold was a Coburg millionaire, a constitutional monarch malgre lui, a throwback from the age of absolutism, with the brain of a Wall Street financier and the hide of an African rhinoceros." From his ostentatious palace at Laeken, Leopold kept a close eye on developments in the exploration of Africa and saw in it his great opportunity to make a fortune, all in the name of the "3 Cs": Christianity, Commerce, and Civilization.

The "3 Cs" served as the foundation for most European imperialist of the time - Henry Stanley, his rival Pierre Brazza, Sir George Goldie, Frederick Lugard and others. A twenty-first century cynic could argue that the European intervention in Africa was motivated by capitalist greed, pure and simple.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Tim Weber on May 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Thomas Pakenham's sprawling story of the slicing up of a continent by European powers is fascinating, well-written, well worth your time. It's interesting that surprisingly little of the colonization of Africa between 1876 and 1912 came by direct military conquest. No, England, France and Germany (principally) sank their teeth into the continent mostly in less direct ways that were just as dismaying. "The Scramble for Africa" presents a panorama of villains and heroes, both white and black, but paints it with sufficient shades of gray. Much of what happens is despicable to us today, but Pakenham helps us understand the whys. The book is not perfect. For American eyes, Pakenham assumes too much knowledge of British history and its political system. There are a lot of names to keep track of, and there is an occasional lack of clarity as to what precisely is going on. Pakenham also has a curious habit of not always making clear who is being quoted. Still, this is a strong, well-written, fascinating account of a strange, exciting period in world history.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By C,Richardson-Child on September 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I study an atlas and look at the borders of any European Country, I see few straight lines. When I turn to the page on Africa, there are many straight lines. The story behind these lines is one of greed, cruelty, heroism, misguided pride and sadness.
Thomas Pakenham has written more than a book. He has written a history lesson. I came away from this beginning to know and understand present day problems in Africa - by looking at the universal starting point for society's problems, history.
All the major players are here. France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Arabia and last, but not least, my own country - Great Britain.
The colonial cake was originally fought over the Far East, The Americas, The Indian Subcontinent - until the European, a little late (1870), and, reluctantly at first, found the great prize of Africa.
Gold, Diamonds, Game, Land, Copper...
Then the scramble, the squabling, the division.
An adventure built on the heroics of early explorers ended up in tears.. on all sides. George Pakenham tells you how, in a sweeping, impartial account. He lets the reader decide.
I guarantee that if you read this book, your views on Africa will be changed for ever.
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