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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superbly detailed, if slightly dry
I found this book rather heavy going, but that is partly because a lot of the more distant history stuff is of little interest to me. I did, however, also find the writing style a little dull.

To be fair, it is very ambitious in scope and provides a breadth of coverage, not just in terms of timescale, but also subjects e.g. linguistics, economics, anthropology...
Published on 14 Oct. 2002 by Overseas Reviewer

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4 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very imformative
Good book, but very very detailed and very hard to wade through. Still have not finished it over a year later. Will one day!
Published on 15 Feb. 2004 by lukemv


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4.0 out of 5 stars A very capable biography of the worlds most interesting continent, 19 Jan. 2013
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The book is Impressive in its ability to translate a huge volume of history in such a readable and interesting way.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Africa from molten rock to modern politics - astounding, 8 Oct. 2012
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C. P. Hennessy "Pete Hennessy" (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Africa: A Biography of the Continent (Paperback)
I am astonished by this book! It really does start with the formation of the African continent continue with the evolution of life into humans, then on through human history on the continent, slavery and colonialism ending with modern African states, Nelson Mandela and the Rwandan Genocide.

I would have thought it an impossible task to put recent African history into so much context, but the book manages it. I know a little geology and the book covered that aspect perfectly. I knew very little anthropology and the book coped with that too. On contentious issues the author covers both sides of an argument before going in further depth into his preferred explanation.

It is quite a heavy read for a non-academic, it took me a few months, but it was worth it. I can't recommend it too much.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, 29 May 2007
This review is from: Africa: A Biography of the Continent (Paperback)
This is a well researched and credible book about the whole of the African continent which gives a broad picture on which details of modern African politics and events fit comfortably.

To me it read very smoothly and I couldn't put it down at the end.

An absolutely fascinating account of considerable academic credibility and importance.

It has really ignited my interest in Africa and African politics.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous and monumental, 8 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Africa: A Biography of the Continent (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book. Hardly a page goes by without some intriguing revelation, and there are a *lot* of pages. John Reader has clearly done a massive amount of research (as his bibliography shows) but he passes it on lightly. Every fact is relevant, and carefully chosen to illuminate his current topic.
This is a history of Africa in the very broadest sense - geology, palaeontology, archaeology, biology, linguistics, genetics and documentary sources are all deployed in weaving together the story of a continent. Even more remarkably, the work is presented in themed chapters that more or less stand alone - here is a little dissertation on the practicalities of agriculture in the tropics; here is a study of the slave trade; here is a description of diamond mining at Kimberley; here is a reflection on the motives and character of the Voortrekkers. But it all fits together, and builds to a coherent whole!
If you love broad, transdisciplinary, thought-provoking works like Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel", then buy this book. Do it now.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 23 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Africa: A Biography of the Continent (Paperback)
A really excellent book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read, 9 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Africa: A Biography of the Continent (Paperback)
I read a lot and this is one of the best books I have read. The progression through the work, and the scope, begininning with geology and moving through anthropology, history and politics is impressive. As is the analysis which is inciteful, comprehensive and fair. I work in Africa and this is a book I give to my colleagues both international and African.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and broad ranging, 25 Dec. 2010
A great overview of the development of the human species, am only a 1/4 of the way through and learning something new every page. Fascinating, but six months on I'm only half way through so have downgraded to four stars.
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4 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very imformative, 15 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Africa: A Biography of the Continent (Paperback)
Good book, but very very detailed and very hard to wade through. Still have not finished it over a year later. Will one day!
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Africa: A Biography of the Continent
Africa: A Biography of the Continent by John Reader (Paperback - 5 Nov. 1998)
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