- Paperback: 816 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (September 7, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 067973869X
- ISBN-13: 978-0679738695
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 92 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Africa: A Biography of the Continent
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"The ancestors of all humanity evolved in Africa," notes photojournalist John Reader at the beginning of this epic, panoramic overview of African history. From the formation of the continent to the present, Reader's informative narrative tells the story of the earliest dwellers and the natural obstacles of desert, jungle, and animals they faced, expertly entwining the development of humanity with the ecological and geographical evolution of the continent. He demonstrates how the physical makeup of Africa is like nowhere else on earth, both supporting and crippling human progress over time. Reader, who has lived and traveled in Africa for many years, explores the migration of humanity as early as 100,000 years ago out of Africa into Europe and South America, forming the earliest indigenous populations in these areas. At the same time he traces the effects of European settlers, slavery, and tribal warfare to the present day's independent states that have suffered through chronic disease, famine, and brutal conflict. Reader's passion for this continent is evident throughout the text, bringing to life his scrupulous research which explores in fascinating detail, the intricate and complex history of Africa. --Jeremy Storey --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Africa's collision with the Eurasian landmass 30 million years ago; the emergence of upright, bipedal human ancestors four million years ago; the migration of anatomically modern nomads out of Africa a mere 100,000 years ago; the rise of Africa's first literate indigenous civilization, Aksum (ancient Ethiopia) in the first century A.D.?these are signposts in a continent's evolution in Reader's unusual, enthralling survey. A British photojournalist who has spent most of his adult life in Africa, he writes with sweeping historical perspective and an engaging familiarity with the continent and its people. Ranging from the earliest known evidence of life on earth?6.6-billion-year-old fossilized bacteria?to recent upheavals in Rwanda and South Africa, this immensely rewarding synthesis is amplified by the author's deeply lyrical, quietly stunning photographs that evoke Africa's beauty and ancient roots. Reader refutes the notion of the Egyptian Nile region as a fulcrum that conveyed civilization to sub-Saharan Africa; instead, he argues, the relationship was one of pillager and pillaged. Blaming European colonizers' near-genocidal slaughter, exploitation and imposition of artificial nation-states for much of contemporary Africa's malaise, he maintains that the "dark continent" has been woefully misunderstood and misused throughout history. His eye-opening chronicle will change the way many think about Africa. Photos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
To be fair, each chapter in this well written book could have developed into a book of its own if everything known was to be included. So, accept that this book, despite its length, is merely a summary and guideline of Africa’s history. Nonetheless, it is a valuable read for anyone wishing to embark on exploring Africa’s vast geography and history.
Recently returned from a long trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe, I wanted to delve more into Africa’s history in order to better understand what I had seen and learned from numerous personal interviews with white and black, old and young citizens of those two countries. I was specifically interested in how slavery developed, how a small colonial population both exploited and controlled a larger indigenous population, how racial separation came to be the norm, and why numerous post-colonial African nation governments failed miserably. Fortunately, these are the book’s strongest areas. Now I have a framework for future detailed reading.
Most readers will find that many of their pre-conceived notions about African “tribes,” non-European African history, and African nation states will be wrong, as much of what Westerners have learned is framed by a European outlook and tradition. This book illuminates and details these and other subjects from a relatively un-biased historical perspective. [Yes, some will quibble over a few statements by the author, but that’s to be expected of any book of this sweeping nature.]
It would have been helpful if some maps were included in the book to assist in defining various geographic areas with changing borders and names. These could have been placed at the beginning of many of the chapters to refresh the reader on locations. Overall, however, I am glad I read this book.
In addition, although slavery did come to exist on all continents, Africa was the true home of the salve system, dating back to a period before the European ever existed. In fact today, other than Yemen and possibly Saudi Arabia, Africa is today' still the true home of slavery. This, despite the efforts of Nineteenth Century Europeans, particularly the British, to eliminate it.
Other interesting facts. The famous Zulu Tribe was simply an amalgamation of peoples who were stirred into action by the sudden revival of the slave trade in the late 18th Century near today's Maputo, by Portuguese and French slavers making raids on them in order to satisfy their plantation needs in Mozambique and Madagascar. Because the people of the various tribes were more robust than their neighbors to the south and because of their experiences against the Europeans they developed better weapons and tactics and applied them with fantastic success against the native Africans to the south. There was no Zulu Tribe per se.
These bits of information are only the beginning. If you must, call your place of employment, and claim you are seriously ill. The following week at home in an easy chair or in bed will help you understand more what life is all about than just another week with your boss and his cohorts.