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Africa: A Biography of the Continent von [Reader, John]
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Africa: A Biography of the Continent Kindle Edition

4.4 von 5 Sternen 11 Kundenrezensionen

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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


Drawing on many years of African experience, John Reader has written a book of startling grandeur and scope that recreates the great panorama of African history, from the primeval cataclysms that formed the continent to the political upheavals facing much of the continent today. Reader tells the extraordinary story of humankind's adaptation to the ferocious obstacles of forest, river and desert, and to the threat of debilitating parasites, bacteria and viruses unmatched elsewhere in the world. He also shows how the world's richest assortment of animals and plants has helped - or hindered - human progress in Africa.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 7718 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 816 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0140266755
  • Verlag: Penguin; Auflage: New Ed (5. November 1998)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B002RI9HB6
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Nicht aktiviert
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.4 von 5 Sternen 11 Kundenrezensionen
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #158.771 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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4.4 von 5 Sternen
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
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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Format: Taschenbuch
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.
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
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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Von Ein Kunde am 25. Juni 1998
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
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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