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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A scholarly book long on ecologic and anthroplogic detail.
This book attempts to cover the breadth of a vast continent and the scope of human history, and generally succeeds. It was interesting and a bit surprising to learn how the environment affects and shapes societies. For example, there were not huge central cities in subSahara Africa because the economies were based on cattle -which dictated a nomadic life -- or on...
Veröffentlicht am 11. Dezember 1998 von jww@phi.dol-esa.gov

versus
3.0 von 5 Sternen a book with epic sweep
I disagree with Mr. Milbratz! As strong as the whole of this wonderful book is, I thought the first 200 pages were the strongest, precisely because of their depersonalized, epic sweep. It requires a great degree of talent for a writer to make this kind of information not only coherent but gripping, and Reader does - weren't you fascinated by all that speculation on...
Am 20. September 1998 veröffentlicht


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4.0 von 5 Sternen A scholarly book long on ecologic and anthroplogic detail., 11. Dezember 1998
This book attempts to cover the breadth of a vast continent and the scope of human history, and generally succeeds. It was interesting and a bit surprising to learn how the environment affects and shapes societies. For example, there were not huge central cities in subSahara Africa because the economies were based on cattle -which dictated a nomadic life -- or on plants like plantains and bananas which can be grown in individual family acreage and don't require vast fields like wheat or corn. There is a great deal of information about the effects of the slave trade on Africa. The Zulu, for example, rose to prominence after their neighbors were decimated by slaving. Near the end, the reader learns how Germany set up concentration labor camps in Africa in 1905, a chilling foreshadowing of the Holocaust. An excellent book; dry at times as scholarly works are but extremely informative. I recommend it.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Sympathetic but not the usual cheerleading, 5. Januar 2000
Steve Sailer here:
Although sub-Saharan Africa was a topic of intense interest in the West during the 19th and early 20th Centuries, little of any value has been published about Africa in recent decades, largely due to the depressing performance of liberated African states. Much of what little gets published today is simply self-esteem therapy, like Henry Louis Gates' silly new coffee table book that accompanied his embarrassing PBS miniseries about the supposed architectural treasures of black Africa, although he wasn't actually able to find many.
In contrast, John Reader pulls off the difficult feat of being both highly sympathetic toward black Africans and quite realistic about their relative lack of tangible accomplishments. For example, although Africans' accomplishments in music and personal decoration were outstanding, their architectural achievements (the purported main topic of Gates' documenataries) is neglible. Other than in peripheral regions like Ethiopia and Zanzibar where black Africans came in contact with other races, there are almost zero ruins of any size. The main exception are the tall walls of Great Zimbabwe, but Reader's depiction is much less ecstatic than Gates': Reader says the most amazing thing about Great Zimbabwe is that it's in sub-Saharan Africa. The quality of construction is "poor" -- it's just a lot of local flat stones piled on top of one another. Nor did it require an enormous mobilization of manpower on the scale of the Pyramids -- a contemporary dry wall contractor gave an estimate of 200 men working for one year to build it. In Reader's view, Africa was traditionally too underpopulated and under-urbanized to generate impressive cities in the black heartland. He gives a variety of reasons. A major one is the horrendous burden of tropical diseases like sleeping sickness and malaria. Africans tended to be too sick to have a lot of surplus energy left over after they fed themselves to spend on construction projects. Further, it was healthiest to live spread out across the countryside, not in disease-infested cities. Another big problem was elephants. Elephants love to eat crops. These and Readers' other arguments are plausible, but to make them fully convincing, he'd have to explain why other tropical regions like Southern India and Southeast Asia (e.g., Angkor Wat) where there were also lots of diseases and elephants weren't equally debilitated.
I would also probably have emphasized the African family structure -- which tends toward polygamy with a relatively small role for the father in supporting his wives and kids -- as a playing a sizable role in Africa's traditional economic shortcomings, since it tends to encourage men to compete against each other for more wives rather than encouraging each man to support his own wife, and thus team up with other husbands in cooperative projects.Nonetheless, this is an impressive work, and well worth reading.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent: Intriguing and informative., 24. August 1998
Von 
Here is a clear, concise, and extremely well-written book. A model, IMHO, of how authors should write history. If you were ever curious about why Hutus kill Tutsi's, why Zaire is such a mess, or how DeBeers came to practically run the South African government, this book's for you. If you haven't been curious, you should be. Read it anyway.
The book covers African history from archaeology and anthropology through present era. (It stops at the 1994 Rwanda crisis and Mandela's election in South Africa).
I picked up the book after reading an excellent review in The Economist. I knew very little about African history and reckoned I should know more. I was not disappointed.
John Reader writes clear and concise prose and chooses his words carefully. Each chapter is fairly "portable" and can be read indpendently and, as a bonus, has an abstract at the beginning which help clarify the author's ideas and direction.
The two shortfalls I found were trivial:
1) I find the archaeology and anthropology less interesting than portions which dealt with the Portugese on. That said, I found the subject matter of the first 200 pages a bit dry.
2) It needs more maps inserted in the body of the book, i.e. detailed enough to support some of the texts. The Appendix in the back contains some interesting maps, not in the level of detail necessary to follow some discussions. (E.g. the Congo headwaters and locations of Brazzaville/Leopoldville.)
That said, I found the book worthwhile and have given it to two friends moving to Kenya. They liked it also.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A Magnificent Work, 25. Juni 1998
Von Ein Kunde
This is a huge book, but unlike most others, I was sorry to see it end. This is due to Reader's intelligent and clear writing style. He conveys an enormous amount of information in chapters which are usually no more than 10 pages.
Those looking for a conventional history will be a bit puzzled at first. Reader spends more time talking about the prehistory of Africa and the development of homo sapiens in general than he does about 20th century African events. Nevertheless, the episodes he chooses to focus on are memorable. His description of the slave trade and its effect on the African continent is notable both for its horror and for the unbiased eye he casts on both the Europeans and Africans involved in perpetuating it.
Reader draws upon a huge number of sources for the book (the bibliography is huge) and synthesises them into a lucid narrative, despite the gaps and omissions (nothing much on North Africa, for example). He is especially opinionated about the West's stereotypical image of Africa as a verdant, unspoiled land. Still, he presents a wide variety of information drawn from his voluminous reading, and he always identifies speculation as speculation.
It is impossible in such a short space to do justice to a book that basically defies description. While it focuses on Africa, Reader's book deals with so many subjects, and does it so well, that it will leave you almost breathless.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Flawed, but best single book on Africa, 11. September 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Reader's is a journalist's (rather than a historian, geographer, or economist's) take on Africa, with all the pitfalls of that approach. It is redundant and overly wordy and suffers from a very serious lack of maps. That said, it is the BEST single book on Africa and should be required reading for all Americans, as it would likely be their only source of information about Africa. Obviously, Africa is a big place with a very long history and a single book cannot do justice to the subject in detail. Reader does a wonderful job providing a grand overview as well as selected details to spark interest in further reading and perhaps travel. Unfortunately, the hardback book kind of peters out in the final chapter. It is clear throughout the book that Reader is an Africa fan with strong opinions about how non-Africans have affected its present state. But he doesn't provide us with any sweeping summary that presents these views in a cogent way. It would be better for the reader to draw their own conclusions, except that Reader has steered them in a specific direction. It would be nice to know what it is he wants us to see there. One last note, read this book with a good atlas or detailed map of Africa in hand.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Africa, a Biography for Everyone, 20. Februar 2000
Von 
Considering the magnitude of his undertaking, Mr Reader did a superb job of covering his subject in nearly every aspect possible. Almost anyone with an interest in geology, geography, anthropology, ancient and recent history, political science or ethnography will find this book of interest in some aspect. Personally I enjoyed the first half of the volume more than the last half, as the later chapters are a depressing compendium of the inhumanity of mankind to its brethern. The unfortunate effects of foreign involvement in African affairs has a long history, and Mr. Reader dealt with the subject fully and fairly; nor did he entirely absolve native African involvement in the down fall of some of its own cultures. The author seems to have a feel for the complexity of the events that occurred through time and of the reprocussions--the almost dominoe effect--of actions and decisions made, often times outside of Continental Africa itself. (A case of 20-20 hindsight, perhaps). In all a very readable book for anyone desiring a broad overview of Africa.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Whatever idea you have of Africa, this book will change it, 16. Oktober 1999
Is rare to find a book about history that is so gripping. The writer indeed does a wonderful job in keeping you amused and surprised. He mixes very diverse topics such as linguistics, weather, religion, colonialism, economics, geography and a thousand more, into a single narrative, with such vitality and coherence, that you wonder how come there are such a few mainstream works on such a fascinating epic history.
If you know nothing about, or just a few details of African History, after finish reading this book you will feel like an expert, but more important that that, the writer most probably will sow in you a feeling of love for that continent a thirst to know more.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen a book with epic sweep, 20. September 1998
Von Ein Kunde
I disagree with Mr. Milbratz! As strong as the whole of this wonderful book is, I thought the first 200 pages were the strongest, precisely because of their depersonalized, epic sweep. It requires a great degree of talent for a writer to make this kind of information not only coherent but gripping, and Reader does - weren't you fascinated by all that speculation on exactly how proto-humans exploited the heat of the African midday? Well, even if you concentrate on the latter portions of the book, we're still left with a stunning piece of nonfiction, I thought.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Required reading!, 9. Dezember 1999
I picked this one purely on a whim, because I felt I hadn't learned a darn thing in my school years about the Continent of Africa. This book is a great starter to get you going. From Reader's discussion of the Pangea theory to his examples of extreme and violent tribalism towards the end, this book intrigues throughout. Most of all, it gave me the desire to buy more books that concentrate on subjects or countries that Mr. Reader could only briefly brush upon. I highly recommend this to anyone who has an interest in Africa, but doesn't know where to start.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen outstanding history and writing, 7. Februar 2000
Von 
The author combined (1) exhaustive research, (2) analysis and sysnthesis of the information and data researched, and (3) a wonderful writing style to produce an extremely informative, intellectually stimulating, an readable book. The analysis goes well beyond a simple presentation of the facts. While reading most of the book, I did not want to put it down; when nearing the end, I did not want to finish the book because I knew I would miss the reading. This is as good as history gets"""""
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