The Fortunes of Africa

The Fortunes of Africa

A 5000-year History of Wealth, Greed, and Endeavour

Book - 2014
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Africa has been coveted for its riches ever since the era of the Pharaohs. In past centuries, it was the lure of gold, ivory, and slaves that drew fortune-seekers, merchant-adventurers, and conquerors from afar. In modern times, the focus of attention is on oil, diamonds, and other valuable minerals. Land was another prize. The Romans relied on their colonies in northern Africa for vital grain shipments to feed the population of Rome. Arab invaders followed in their wake, eventually colonizing the entire region. More recently, foreign corporations have acquired huge tracts of land to secure food supplies needed abroad, just as the Romans did. In this vast and vivid panorama of history, Martin Meredith follows the fortunes of Africa over a period of 5,000 years. With compelling narrative, he traces the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms and empires; the spread of Christianity and Islam; the enduring quest for gold and other riches; the exploits of explorers and missionaries; and the impact of European colonization. He examines, too, the fate of modern African states and concludes with a glimpse of their future.
Publisher: New York :, Public Affairs,, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781610394598
Branch Call Number: 960 ME
Characteristics: xxii, 745 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Africa


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Dec 04, 2017

This large book attempts a comprehensive history of the continent: the first one hundred pages takes the reader up to about 1400, the next hundred up to about 1800, and the remaining four hundred and seventy five up to about 2010. Its direct, and the one hundred pages especially curt. The real excellence is in the last half. The author abstains from preaching, finger wagging and guilt mongering, but he nonetheless exercise judgement, often with journalistic deadpan factuality: "A renowned Malian singer, Kharia Arby, [...] was forced to flee her home in Timbuktu after Ansar Dine threatened to cut out her tongue. 'We do not want Satan's music,' a spokesman explained." (pg. 665). The author clarifies names a lot, especially in the first half of the book, their origins and meanings, and corrects obsolescent names. There is a lengthy and helpful bibliographic essay with a correspondingly thorough bibliography, of great use for those who wish to learn more about a particular topic.


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