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Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen Hardcover – February 27, 2017
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Queen Njinga of Angola has long been among the many heroes whom black diasporians have used to construct a pantheon and a usable past. Linda Heywood gives us a different Njinga―one brimming with all the qualities that made her the stuff of legend but also full of all the interests and inclinations that made her human. A thorough, serious, and long overdue study of a fascinating ruler, Njinga of Angola is an essential addition to the study of the black Atlantic world. (Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me)
Njinga’s time has come. Heywood tells the fascinating story of arguably the greatest queen in sub-Saharan African history, who surely deserves a place in the pantheon of revolutionary world leaders, male and female alike. (Henry Louis Gates, Jr.)
Heywood gives us a biography well worthy of its complex subject: an insightful portrait of the person, smoothly narrated, with an eye for telling details, and solidly historical in its thoughtful probing of the currents in the African and Portuguese worlds Njinga skillfully navigated for more than four decades. This welcome book is a good read and a great story. (Joseph C. Miller, author of The Problem of Slavery as History)
Heywood offers a complex and layered narrative that significantly enhances our knowledge about Njinga, the memorable ruler who defied colonial power in seventeenth-century central Africa. In addition to being a tour de force of historical analysis that will mesmerize scholars, this powerful and moving book will delight Njinga’s many admirers, for the African queen occupies a vital place both in the national identity of Angola and in the memory of people of African descent in the Americas. (Roquinaldo Ferreira, author of Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Atlantic World)
In her biography of this fascinating character, Linda Heywood seeks to blow away the smoke of infamy and adulation. She reveals a figure no less protean in life than her reputation has proved to be in the three and a half centuries since her death―an individual who overstepped boundaries of religion, gender and nationhood…Like its subject, Heywood’s book defies simple categorization, mixing anthropology, gender studies and history…This stimulating biography of a queen and resistance leader offers a timely reminder that gender fluidity is not something unique to the present age. (David Gelber Literary Review 2017-03-01)
Historically, various authors have demonized Njinga or downplayed the importance of her reign. Heywood, however, does a beautiful job of clearly depicting her subject and setting the context for her decisions. More than simply providing facts, the author humanizes Njinga, turning her into a sympathetic figure. In the end, it is clear that she is to be appreciated in both African and world history…A great book for any history buff By taking up the mantle to write such a biography, Heywood ensures that Njinga will not be forgotten. (Sonnet Ireland Library Journal 2017-02-15)
About the Author
Linda M. Heywood is Professor of History and African American Studies at Boston University.
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Top Customer Reviews
Linda Heywood has produced, at last, a biography of Njinga which can elevate her to that place. It is based on an amazingly rich and diverse set of original sources, that include not only reports by Portuguese and Italian priests and missionaries, soldiers or governors, but even on a parcel of letters that Njinga herself wrote. It is not because of a lack of first hand eyewitness accounts of her life that we do not know about her, but rather because Africa and African leaders have gotten short shift in world history.
This is a compelling story, well-told with dozens of fascinating anecdotes and first-hand accounts of her derring-do. Heywood shows her climbing down cliffs on a flimsy rope ladder to escape the Portuguese who are pursuing her, of her remarkable gender role reversals, in having her male concubines dress as women and sleep chastely among her serving maids, or writing a letter of recommendation for a Portuguese ambassador who negotiated a peace treaty with her.
We couldn’t have a better introduction to her life and times than Heywood’s breathtaking story, that even committed readers of fiction would enjoy.