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A History of Mozambique
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About the Author
MALYN NEWITT is a senior lecturer in the Department of History at Exeter University and author of numerous articles and book, including Portuguese Settlement on the Zambezi and Portugal in Africa.
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The first 16 chapters covering the period from the 16th century to 1930, mainly concentrating on political and economic history (with relatively little on social or cultural history), and also Chapter 18 on Migrant labour are excellent. The remaining three chapters on the "New State" of Salazar, on the liberation war and on its aftermath are not to quite the same high standard and seem to rely more on secondary sources.
There are few criticisms of the whole work. Firstly, there are only a few pages describing the situation on the coast around the time of the Portuguese arrival and nothing about the early history of the coast or interior. A chapter on this would have been useful, balanced by small cuts to later chapters. Secondly, even though most of the written sources before the 20th century are European, there is little attempt to examine events from an African perspective to redress the balance. Thirdly, Newitt's treatment of Salazar's "New State" as it affected Mozambique is surprisingly favourable in view of the extent of forced labour, repression and consequent famine that it caused. Although he recognises these, Newitt treats these as aberrations, not as inherent in the system. Finally, (although it is no reflection on Newitt) the book ends in 1992, so it cannot take in the developments of the last 20 years.
The only other one volume history of Mozambique in English I have seen is Thomas Henriksen's "Mozambique: A History". This is around half the length of Newitt's book: most of it gives a very superficial view of Mozambique from pre-history to the mid 20th century, but its last four, very good, chapters give a useful summary on the last phase of colonial rule and the independence war. Only in these chapters can it compete with Newitt, whose book is therefore the only real starting point for the study of Mozambique's history in English.