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The Great Treks: The Transformation of Southern Africa 1815-1854: Black and White Migration and the Making of South Africa (Turning Points)
The Great Treks: The Transformation of Southern Africa 1815-1854: Black and White Migration and the Making of South Africa (Turning Points)
by Norman Etherington
Edition: Paperback
Price: 19.99

3.0 out of 5 stars An Alternative View, 27 July 2014
For many years, South African history has focussed on the growth of the colonial state from the Cape and dealt with African peoples only when they came in contact with the colonists. Etherington wants to move the historical focal point to a southern Bantu heartland, situated in the centre of modern South Africa, which he regards as a crossroads and meeting point of the various groups that peopled the country. In attempting to re-write a post-colonial history of South Africa from an African perspective, Etherington treats the so-called “Great Trek” of the Boers as just one of many movements of peoples and their leaders of the, and not as a major historical turning point.

In this central heartland, most of the people farmed and kept sheep and cattle herds. He treats white settlers and African peoples equally, and Africans as just as likely to confront other Africans as Europeans or Griqua raiders in this period of violence and forced movement. He mentions several locations from which early 19th century instability spread: the area east of the Kalahari, one north of the Tugela River in Natal, and the Xhosa frontier of the eastern Cape. The "Great Trek" is set alongside migrations of mixed-race settlers from the Cape and the Rolong among others. Etherington avoids terms such as black, white African or settler, as he believes race will not be a way of classifying people in future. This is a bold new approach, which partly succeeds, but there are some areas where it is unsatisfactory.

Etherington suggests that many tribes were artificial constructions, and more attention should be focused on the chiefs. Chieftainship, rather than tribe or ethnicity, should in his view be central to reconstructing a non-colonialist history. The problem here is lack of documentation to make that reconstruction; much of what there is from European missionaries or traders writing after the event. This forces him to rely on possibly manipulated genealogies. His use of genealogies gives rise to a confusing profusion of group names derived from chiefs and ancestors in place of colonial accounts which, however biased, are at least well documented.

The term Mfecane has been used to describe a period of early 19th century disruption affecting much of South Africa, sometimes linked to the growth of the Zulu kingdom. It is a highly contentious issue, as the concept was misused in the apartheid era to blame for the massive devastation it was supposed to have caused on Africans. One extreme reaction has been to deny its existence: more nuanced views are it was a period of significant, often violent, but not only destructive change; another emphasises external European agency. Without fully reviewing the controversy, Etherington argues that ultimate cause was the Portuguese slave trade based on Delagoa Bay, although there is virtually no evidence for any significant slave trade there in the relevant period.

Etherington’s attempt to replace the colonial oriented historical accounts by an African centred one is build on shaky foundations because of lack of adequate sources. This is a book for those who already have a reasonable understanding of 19th century South African history, and it is not written in an accessible style. However, if you are interested in this subject, it is worth reading as an alternative view of the history of this period, despite its drawbacks.


The Royal Succession (The Accursed Kings, Book 4)
The Royal Succession (The Accursed Kings, Book 4)
by Maurice Druon
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but less Historical, 21 July 2014
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At the end of the third book in “The Accursed Kings” series, Louis X had been poisoned after a short but disastrous reign of eighteen months, leaving his pregnant second wife Clémence and Jeanne, the five-year-old daughter of the first wife he had had killed, who Louis believed was not his child.

At the start of “The Royal Succession” Louis’ brother and uncle manoeuvre to be regent in what is bound to be a long regency, whichever child succeeds. The brother, Philippe Count of Poitiers, seems to be disadvantaged as he is away from Paris in Lyons, trying to persuade, buy or force a group of unwilling Cardinals to elect a new pope. However, by supporting the Cardinal who is later elected, he gains a valuable ally. On his return to Paris, Philippe becomes regent.

Clémence then gives birth to Louis’ posthumous son, king as Jean I from the day of his birth but sickly. However, Mahaut, Countess of Artois, who poisoned Louis, also plans to kill Jean so that her son-in-law, Philippe of Poitiers can gain power. Mahaut’s is suspect, and one of the guardians of the infant king Jean arranges to switch him for another baby, who is poisoned in his place

Although Philippe had no part in the death of this child, after Jean’s apparent death he uses the doubts about the legitimacy of his niece Jeanne, her gender and extreme youth to exclude her from the royal succession. This involves creating the legal fiction of the Salic law which prohibits female succession to the throne. Phillipe is an interesting mixture of intelligence and ambition; his plan gains approval from most notables, except Jeanne’s relatives and Mahaut’s enemies, and he is crowned as Phillipe V. Mahaut, who Louis had excluded from Artois, is restored to her county.

In an extended sub-plot, Marie de Cressay, a noble girl who went through a clandestine marriage her family do not recognise to a young Lombard, Guccio, realises she is pregnant. She gives birth at the same time as the queen and becomes wet-nurse to the infant king Jean. It is her child that is switched for the king and poisoned. Marie is forced by the dead king’s guardian and his wife to swear never to reveal the truth but to keep Jean as her own child and never to see Guccio again. Marie, who was a rather shadowy figure in the early books, is given more individuality and character here.

This sub-plot detracts from the series’ claim to authenticity. Druon said he research the historical background of the Accursed Kings series and stuck to what was known, although inventing dialogue and insight into his characters’ thoughts. The idea that King Jean survived is pure fiction and, while interesting as a plot device, strains belief. However, this book is still a good read, even if the translation creaks in places.

The decision to have a foreword by George Martin, author of the “Game of Thrones” to each book in the series is unfortunate, but is probably more justified here, as the action has more obvious fiction than previous books in the series


A History of Malawi 1859-1966 {{ A HISTORY OF MALAWI 1859-1966 }} By McCracken, John ( AUTHOR) Sep-20-2012
A History of Malawi 1859-1966 {{ A HISTORY OF MALAWI 1859-1966 }} By McCracken, John ( AUTHOR) Sep-20-2012
by John McCracken
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A Definitive History, 21 July 2014
In one of his earlier books John McCracken recorded that he first visited Nyasaland in 1964, just before it became independent as Malawi, and decided to become an African historian during that visit. From 1965 to 1969 McCracken lectured in Tanzania and completed his PhD thesis on Politics and Christianity in Malawi in 1967. In the almost half-century since 1964 he has made many visits to, and written many papers about, Malawi and was professor of history at its university between 1980 and 1983. He has an unrivaled background in the history of Malawi, particularly its colonial history, and has now written what must be a definitive history of the period from Livingstone's visit to the area up to the time that its first post-colonial, one-party constitution was enacted in 1966.

Any book representing a scholar's life work would be valuable, but McCracken's achievement is more than that. His assessment of the colonial period is balanced and not excessively judgmental. He covers the whole of the colonial episode in more detail than might be expected from a general history, and explains how its economy and administration worked in practice. McCracken also provides a convincing answer to why colonialism failed in Malawi: it did not deliver sufficient economic or social benefits to the African majority and blocked their political and social aspirations. He pulls few punches about the failures of the colonial administrators and European settlers, but puts them on the context of their times. He gives due weight to the poverty and suffering imposed on the African population in this period and their resistance, and Malawian Africans are shown as rounded real people, not one-dimensional, passive or anonymous. McCracken's writing style is plain and direct, neither drily academic nor preachy, and although this is a long book it is very readable.

This book certainly fills the need for a history of the colonial period and, although it would have been good if McCracken had also written on the post-independence period, it already has one or two credible histories.


Malawi - A Political and Economic History
Malawi - A Political and Economic History
by John G. Pike
Edition: Unknown Binding

3.0 out of 5 stars Outdated and Biased, 20 July 2014
This book was written over 40 years ago, partly based on the author's experiences of about 50 years ago. Some books become timeless classics, but this is not one of them. Not only has time made much of the information it contains obsolte, but its attitudes and analyses are outdated. It was part or a series of short studies on African countries and political and social issues for the general public at a time when many African countries were newly independent but little understood.

John Pike was a hydrologist who worked in Malawi in the 1950s and 1960s and co-authored an earlier book on its Geography. His chapter on the geography of the country (except about population, which has more than tripled since his time) is useful but does not relate social factors to ecological ones. The chapter on the Economy gives a readable account of this up to the 1960s, but the general optimism of his conclusions on Malawi's economy is belied by 40 years of deepening poverty and economic mismanagement. Each of the other four chapters dealing with history and politics is open to serious criticism. In addition, he treats Malawi in isolation from its neighbours, ignoring important regional connections.

The best that can be said for Pike's two chapters on pre-Colonial history and the Colonial era is that they represent views current in the 1960s which must be modified in the light the last 40 years of research. In particular, he treats the African people as passive objects for Arab trade, missions and colonisation and minimises the importance of African nationalism. His two chapters on the Central African Federation and Independence benefit from Pike's personal experience in the country during its fight for independence but are generally more favourable towards Federation and the imposition of virtual one-man rule by Dr Banda after independence than most present-day authors would be prepared to admit.

The book is written in a straightforward and readable style but sometimes assumes more knowledge than the general reader may have. It also has only four maps, three to illustrate specific points and one small and uninformative general map. Until a few years ago, this was the most available history of Malawi available in Britain. Now that there is an up-to-date general history of Malawi (A History of Malawi: 1859-1966 by John McCracken) the only reason for reading Pike's work, that it was the only available general history, no longer applies.


Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa: The Making of Malawi and Zambia, 1873-1964 (Ctr for Intl Affairs) (Center for International Affairs)
Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa: The Making of Malawi and Zambia, 1873-1964 (Ctr for Intl Affairs) (Center for International Affairs)
by R I Rotberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: 20.11

4.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Political History, 20 July 2014
Although this book was written in 1965, it is still relevant, as it is the only one-volume political history covering the rise of nationalism in both these two countries from the start of their colonisation until independence. Although this topic is covered (in less detail) in general histories of Malawi, Zambia and Central Africa, Robert Rotberg has a detailed knowledge of the subject and his writing benefits from his direct contact with many of the leading figures in the movements towards independence in the 1950s and 1960s, including colonial officials as well as nationalist politicians. Treating the rise of nationalism in the two countries together allows Rotberg to examine the similarities and differences of the densely populated, poor and almost wholly agricultural Malawi and the larger but sparsely populated Zambia with significant mining and other industries and an urban working class. In some ways the two countries are similar, in others complementary, and dealing with both works well.

Rotberg's aim was to answer several questions. What were the realities of colonial rule and how did Africans respond, and was nationalism rooted in widespread popular dissatisfaction with colonial rule and general African aspirations, or just the views of a small educated minority? He gives clear and definite answers to these questions in a broadly chronological survey. In summary, this concluded that the colonial period up to 1953 was exploitative and failed to offer significant tangible benefits to most Africans or meet the social and political aspirations of the educated African elite. From 1953, the formation of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland against overwhelming African opposition threatened to reverse even the very limited advances that had been made by subjecting the African people to a reactionary white minority rule. It was Federation that created the mass nationalist movements and made early independence their object.

The book can be divided into three sections. The first four chapters deal with the colonial takeover, the nature if white rule and the first protests against it, and the attempts to impose white minority rule through amalgamation with Southern Rhodesia. This section is excellent and sets out the political, economic, social and religious framework imposed on Central Africa. Unlike the remainder of the book, it gives full weight to social and economic issues. The next two chapters on indigenous political and religious movements in the 1920s and 1930s deal with a time when the colonial system seemed unassailable, and they possibly over-emphasise the political importance of these movements, but are followed by a chapter on industrial unrest in Northern Rhodesia.

The pace then picks up for the final chapters on the formation of national political movements, the fight to stop Federation, the realities of rule by the Federal government and the success of the fight for the independence of the two nations. An epilogue on the 1965 Malawi cabinet crisis is of particular historical interest, as it was the first indication that differences shelved in the fight for independence could come to the surface very soon after.

The book is detailed, well documented and explains the complex history of these two countries skilfully. It is well written and, although Rotberg is clearly on the side of nationalism and against colonial rule and particularly the Federation, he is generally fair and measured in his criticism. The only two minor criticisms are that there is too little emphasis on social conditions in Malawi after 1915 and in Zambia after 1945, and that no later editions of the book have been produced which would summarise the early years of independence as a counterpoint to the colonial period.


Academic Writing Course (3rd Edition) (Study Skills in English Series)
Academic Writing Course (3rd Edition) (Study Skills in English Series)
by R R Jordan
Edition: Paperback
Price: 33.30

4.0 out of 5 stars A Useful Resource, 12 July 2014
This is the third edition of a guide first published over thirty years ago and, although it is slightly outdated in some ways, it is still very useful. It was designed for international students hoping to enter British universities and similar institutions, and I have started using it with students taking Cambridge IELTS examinations to enter higher education, who generally find it helpful.

It is particularly useful in helping these students create well-structures and properly co-ordinated essays, initially for the IELTS Writing papers, and hopefully later in their university studies. Many under-thirty students from European countries have had limited training in academic writing: this course gives a good grounding in how to construct essays and reports which are both accurate and in an appropriate style.

The course is presented for self-study and teacher use, but many students would find it a difficult self-study guide. It is written in rather formal, stilted and quite technical language, and the lay-out is not very user-friendly. The best way for teachers to use it is to extract the sections they find most useful to supplement other materials. It is a good foundation, but needs to be built on.

I don’t suggest that you buy a new copy as there are generally used copies in good condition available, which are fine if you are using it as one aid among others, rather than as the only teaching resource.


The Poisoned Crown (The Accursed Kings, Book 3)
The Poisoned Crown (The Accursed Kings, Book 3)
by Maurice Druon
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.51

4.0 out of 5 stars The Pace Picks-up again, 12 July 2014
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One problems in writing historical fiction that keeps faith with events, as Maurice Druon does in his “The Accursed Kings” series, is that some people are more interesting, and some periods more eventful, than others. After a rather flat patch in the second book, the pace in the third book, “The Poisoned Crown” picks up. It covers the last year or less of the eighteen-month reign of France’s headstrong and incompetent king, Louis X. Louis has agreed to the killing of his adulterous wife Marguerite, the strangled queen of the second book, but this was only one of the many problems facing the kingdom.

As with the other books, the action is divided into three parts. The first is dominated by Louis’ wish to marry princess Clémence, her journey from Naples to France and on toward Paris, which is accompanied by terrible weather and signs of famine, ending with their hastily-arranged marriage. In between, Louis undertakes a disastrous campaign against Flemish rebels that peters out in the rain and mud of continuing bad weather.
The second part centres on the conflict between Robert of Artois, supported by Charles of Valois, the king’s uncle who manipulates his weak nephew, and Robert’s aunt Mahaut, Countess of Artois, who occupies the county Robert thinks he should be his. Of Louis’ two brothers, the elder is Philippe, Count of Poitiers, Mahaut’s son-in-law who tries to act justly and initially gives her only qualified support. The younger, Charles of la Marche, is also under the influence of his uncle Charles, and the pressure of uncle and one brother push Louis into supporting Robert against Mahaut. When Mahaut is later excluded from Artois, she decides to kill Louis. Phillipe, who gradually comes to realise that he would be a better king than his elder brother, becomes complicit in Mahaut’s murderous plot through his silence.

At the start of the book’s third part, the main character is a young Lombard, Guccio Baglioni, who played a significant role in “The Strangled Queen” and the first part of this one as part of the embassy for Clémence’s hand and in attempts to get a pope favourable to France elected. He earlier met and fell in love with a young girl of an impoverished but noble family and now marries her secretly, so incurring her family’s anger. This forces him to leave France and he becomes involved in the deadlocked papal election.

At the end of the book, Mahaut arranges for Louis to be poisoned. He rapidly dies, leaving Clémence pregnant and his uncle Charles and brother Philippe lining up to be regent for the next monarch. This would be Clémence’s baby, if it is a boy or a young girl who may not even be Louis’s daughter.

The characters of Mahaut and Robert of Artois, Philippe of Poitiers and Guccio are strongly drawn, with clear motivations and are wholly convincing. Those of Louis X, Charles of Valois and Clémence are less distinctive (and in the cases of Louis and Clémence relatively ineffective) and so make less impact. As the first four take leading roles in this volume while the others have lesser ones, the story becomes more convincing and is better able to involve the reader. The only slight negative is the translation, which seems as if it's following the French too literally and its vocabulary can be rather old-fashioned.

Ignore the misleading comments on the jacket and a foreword likening it to "Game of Thrones". This is a sober, well researched historical narrative, not a fantasy adventure. You should read this book for its own merits, not the jacket blurb.


The Strangled Queen (The Accursed Kings, Book 2)
The Strangled Queen (The Accursed Kings, Book 2)
by Maurice Druon
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

3.0 out of 5 stars A Good but not Great sequel, 11 July 2014
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This is the second book in Maurice Druon's historical series, "The Accursed Kings". It starts just after the death of Philippe IV, the main character of first book, "The Iron King", and covers the first six months of his successor, Louis X, who ruled for barely eighteen months. After a fast-moving first book filled with dramatic incidents, the second book, "The Strangled Queen" has a slower pace and is more concerned with manoeuvrings for power and influence in the French Kingdom and Papacy. It consists of three parts, each with a leading character, although several minor themes run through the whole book.

The first part concerns Marguerite of Burgundy, the wife of Louis who should have the position of queen but is suffering strict and comfortless imprisonment because of her earlier adultery. In the first book, she was seen as a beautiful and sensuous who, with her sister, engaged in affairs with two brothers who were executed for their crime. After a year in prison, Marguerite has lost much of her beauty but has become cunning and selfish. Once she learns of Philippe's death, she wants freedom but not at any price and she stands in the way of Louis remarrying by her obstinacy in giving him grounds for annulment. Louis is obsessed with the idea of marriage to a beautiful Neapolitan princess Clémence, unlike Marguerite in looks and in temperament.

In the second part, Louis who is very weak in comparison to his dominating father and emotionally unstable, shows himself unable to be the king his father was and falls under the control of his uncle Charles of Valois. Charles institutes a noble-led reaction to the centralising tendencies of his dead brother Philippe and seeks the marginalisation of Philippe's low-born ministers. His incompetence leads to the emptying of the Treasury in a matter of months. The only sensible members of the Royal family are Louis' brother, another Philippe, and their uncle Louis of Evreux, but they are overruled. Much of this part deals with the negotiations for princess Clémence to marry Louis and to travel to France. This requires the annulment of Louis' first marriage, and the French court is frustrated in its attempts to elect a Pope who could do this.

In the third part, the crisis in the kingdom worsens and there is a major famine, the result of maladministration as much as the poor harvest. This is blamed on Philippe IV's principal minister, Marigny who Charles of Valois hates. Marigny, the one person who could deal with the crisis, is executed after a rigged trial. Although Marguerite is at last willing to give Louis the legal grounds for an annulment, it is too late and she is strangled in her prison.

Possibly because the novel proceeds more through dialogue than action, its dialogue becomes more important and can seem a little lifeless and too full of old-fashioned words, possibly related to the translation. This said, if you are going to continue with the Accursed Kings series, it is necessary to read this second book in sequence, as the quality of later ones does improve.

As for the first book, "The Strangled Queen" has misleading comments in the jacket likening it to George Martin's "Game of Thrones" and a foreword by Martin claiming to see no real difference between his fantasy adventure and Druon's historical narrative. Don't be influenced or put off by these comments, but read this book for its own merits


Black Athena Writes Back: Martin Bernal Responds to His Critics
Black Athena Writes Back: Martin Bernal Responds to His Critics
by Martin Bernal
Edition: Paperback
Price: 20.99

2.0 out of 5 stars An Unhealthy Obsession, 6 July 2014
Reading extensively about the polarised, acrimonious Black Athena debate left me disenchanted and this response Bernal made to his critics left me cold. It would only be justified if he said something new or engaged in constructive debate, but despite the publisher's claims, it contains little new, just recycling of Black Athena's themes and attacks on critics. Bernal claims ownership of the debate and the right to respond to criticism however, and at whatever tiresome length, he chooses.

Do what Black Athena Revisited regards as mistakes and simplifications discredit Bernal's ideas? Following its publication, Bernal's two main supporters argued that it was less attempting to correct prevailing views on early Mediterranean history than attacking universities' failures of integrity or contributing to Black identity politics. They tacitly accepted the criticisms by trying to deflect them. However, Bernal wants to preserve his historical revision intact, so should be judged on that basis.

Former students portray Bernal as an inspirational teacher, but dogmatic and sometimes forcing his political views on them. Bernal cannot treat fellow scholars like students, so attacks the integrity or competence of those he cannot convince. His Introduction accuses his critics of right-wing political agendas, which seems rather paranoid.

This book is intelligible only to readers of Black Athena and Black Athena Revisited, as much is an article-by-article response to the latter. Bernal's rhetorical techniques are unchanged. First, guilt by association: if anyone in a specialisation was (in his view) racist or anti-Semitic, the whole discipline must be, making its theories worthless. Second, nit-picking: should an opponent be slightly wrong, he claims this invalidates their whole argument. On the other hand, if Bernal is forced to admit a mistake, the third technique is waving this away as irrelevant.

Editing improves the book's organisation, but it is still repetitive over its almost 500 pages. Looking at responses by theme, those on Egyptology are muted and there is none to the Near East. On Science, Bernal evades the argument that Egyptian and Mesopotamian science was practical, not speculative like Greek science. He admits some mistakes on Historiography, but claims these were irrelevant and his critics ignore the big picture. These occupy five shortish chapters, accompanied by two of commentary. The most contentious sections are four chapters on Linguistics and Classics.

Jasanoff and Nussbaum argued that Bernal's supposed Egyptian- or Semitic-derived Greek words ignored the normal rules of etymology and were based on superficial resemblances. Bernal's longest reply includes associating them with discredited theories, claims minor errors invalidate their conclusions and that their "misplaced precision" obscures his sensible ones. He ignores their fundamental point on etymology, although he uses its rules in his argument. The classicists claimed Bernal's work was superficial and over-reliant on ancient and secondary sources. He replies that classics and archaeology are irredeemably tainted by prejudice; they distrust outsiders and dislike his politics. His reacts with wounded pride to Tritle's questioning his status as an historian and laboriously justifies his earlier work, without any dialogue.

In Part VI, Bernal claims acceptance of his ideas in two studies describing Western Semitic (not Egyptian) influences on Greece. Neither author endorsed Bernal, who mentions only elements of their work. A third, who criticised Bernal, is told she supports him but doesn't realise it! Bernal saves discussion of Afrocentrism and race for a no-holds-barred attack on Mary Lefkowitz's book Not Out of Africa as his finale. The Culture Wars issue is more relevant to America, but the venom and pettiness of his attack, as in his two or three other responses, goes beyond free speech or fair comment and demeans him.

Bernal apparently believes that, as he is right, his critics must be rogues or fools and assumes that, if he kept writing, the fools would be convinced and the rogues silenced. That never happened, because justified criticisms cannot be silenced. Declining to accept this, he promised two more volumes of Black Athena and a "discussion" by a panel of his choosing in Debating Black Athena. This seems obsessional and, whatever drove Bernal to these excessive lengths, fortunately only one volume emerged.


Heresy in the University: The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibilities of American Intellectuals
Heresy in the University: The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibilities of American Intellectuals
by Jacques Berlinerblau
Edition: Paperback
Price: 20.90

2.0 out of 5 stars A Rehash of Black Athena, 29 Jun 2014
Berlinerblau says he is attempting to summarise the Black Athena debate in one volume, providing a critical but accessible summary and interpretation of Black Athena, identifying its flaws and the main objections of its critics and questioning if modern universities can accept unorthodox views. Bernal spent many years in background reading before writing Black Athena; most specialists who reviewed it had long experience in their chosen fields: Berlinerblau published in an unfamiliar area only three years after Black Athena Revisited, so his expertise is questionable.

In his Introduction and Part One, Berlinerblau is generally sympathetic towards Bernal's theories, because he says Bernal challenges the practices and motivation of scholarly research. He puts many of Bernal's arguments in Black Athena Volume I (exposing past prejudice in classical studies) into simple English. He is less able to evaluate the evidence Bernal used attempting to rewrite early Mediterranean history in Volume II or the reaction to it. He dismisses the criticism of Bernal's theories in Black Athena Revisited, arguing that details are less important than its challenge to orthodoxy.

Berlinerblau neither presents both sides of the debate nor explains the critics' objections fully, possibly because he lacks experience of Classics, Archaeology or Ancient History. He accuses opponents of being hypercritical of Bernal, but an eminent professor should be subject to the normal process of criticism by peers, just as Berlinerblau criticises his sociological failings. Black Athena contains many accusations of anti-Semitism, racism, incompetence or malpractice: Berlinerblau thinks them legitimate, unless demonstrably preposterous, but they do not replace proof or reasoned argument. Using double standards, he accuses (unspecified) contributors to Black Athena Revisited of condescension to and abuse of Bernal: none matches Bernal for abusiveness and any condescension reflects his many errors.

Part Two argues that the structure of Western research universities results from their 19th century exclusivity. It portrays the well-established Bernal as an outsider, challenging research practices and trying to get unorthodox views discussed. Berlinerblau also sees him as influenced by the rejected diffusionism of Cyrus Gordon and Michael Astour, exploiting ancient history's inability to prove its theories to make a revisionist attack. This part is more balanced, but Berlinerblau does not consider the implications. If Black Athena Volume II has many demonstrable errors of detail, why shouldn't its opponents expose them just because Berlinerblau thinks Volume I contributes towards challenging orthodoxy? If Bernal used his rhetorical skills to resurrect Gordon and Astour's discredited theories and exploit the evidential difficulties of ancient history, what is innovative or creative in this?

Part Three and the conclusion are of less interest to non-Americans. Berlinerblau accepts Bernal's evidence for widespread past academic racism, and (with little evidence) argues that it still devalues scholarship. He also accepts that Bernal strayed into the Afrocentrist controversy unintentionally, ignoring Bernal saying in Volume II that he actively sought Afrocentrist support. No evidence is presented to show that American universities (the only ones discussed) stifle creative research that challenges accepted theories: Bernal was certainly able to get his ideas discussed without repercussions from his university.

Despite claiming to consider both sides of the argument, Berlinerblau simply summarises Bernal for those not interested enough to read the original. He adds his own special pleading; that Bernal's attempt to rewrite Ancient History is such a worthwhile attempt to change academic practice, and his critics' motivation (is he sees it) so tainted, that the Black Athena debate can only be conducted outside the established rules of academic discussion. This prioritises intention and discounts evidence, but Bernal's speculations are only as good as the evidence supporting them, something Berlinerblau largely ignores.


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