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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece!
For a very thick book I read this in a week and a half. Very well written and easy to read but researched in such a way to add serious credibility. The environmental, historical and anthropological detail that Reader employs is very effective. It helps banish to history the stereotypes and false impressions about Africa that have prevailed for centuries.

Some...
Published on 21 Jan. 2005 by B. Russell

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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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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece!, 21 Jan. 2005
By 
B. Russell - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
For a very thick book I read this in a week and a half. Very well written and easy to read but researched in such a way to add serious credibility. The environmental, historical and anthropological detail that Reader employs is very effective. It helps banish to history the stereotypes and false impressions about Africa that have prevailed for centuries.

Some of the information about African languages, the migration from Africa to the rest of the world, the development of iron and why the established western understanding of the development of civilisations and ancient cities just doesn't apply to Africa are really fascinating.

This should be read by everybody who has lived, travelled or worked in Africa. Brilliant Book.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant: a rivetting and educational read, 6 May 2001
By A Customer
I bought this book to please a friend of mine who recommended it. Knowing little about Africa and having little interest in the place, I had no expectations of enjoying the book. However, it turned out to be one of the most memorable books I have ever read and I would recommend it to anyone who has any care for or interest in mankind.
The book is brilliantly researched and could almost be described as an encyclopaedia in terms of the huge range of subjects that it covers. This is not just a history of the African continent, but a history of mankind from primeval times to the present, through various stages and periods of civilization. The book describes the exodus of early man from the African continent 100,000 years ago and the disastrous effects of his eventual return over the last 1000 years. Most poignant perhaps is Mr Reader's descriptions of slave trading, European colonization and later decolonization, and he argues strongly how these disastrous events are still responsible for ongoing suffering amongst the inhabitants of the continent.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in human history - and not least to anyone like myself who knew little about the subject before reading Mr Reader's wonderful book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superbly detailed, if slightly dry, 14 Oct. 2002
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 etc that is not available in any other texts that I've seen. It is also extensively referenced. For these reasons, I've given 4 stars, despite having not particularly enjoyed reading it.

I am primarily interested in more recent history and, fortunately for me, this is delivered to near perfection in the fantastic 'State of Africa' by Martin Meredith.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History in Broad Strokes, 22 Sept. 2003
By A Customer
They aren't kidding when they say 'Biography'! The book literally starts with the birth of the continents and ends with recent history. In between those two points the development of Africa is explained using geology, climate, evolutionary changes, and Western influences. It is clearly and interestingly written. If you want to know why the situation in Africa is what it is today this is an excellent one-stop resource. (If you want information about a specific country or area I wouldn't recommmend this book. Although it goes into a bit more detail on some subjects, it mainly consists of broad information.)
The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because the author quotes quite a lot of statistics, which aren't always strictly necessary.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Covers the history of Africa in 600 pages., 26 April 2001
This is an excellent book that covers the history of Africa in one book. Although most of it is probably at a rather superficial level this keeps the books progress over time moving along and this maintains the interest. References are given for more detailed books on particular aspects. It is even better because of Readers personal involvement with the continent and this makes it more than just a dry research subject.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book for one who wants to know the detail of Africa, 25 Feb. 2006
By A Customer
If you have lived or worked in Africa and you need to be confident of what you are talking about when you are in discussions about this amazing and beautiful continent - then you need to have read this book. It is not light reading, but it is absorbing and absolutely crammed with factual, well-researched detail. The Bibliography alone is 43 pages. A real book of reference.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Africa: A Biography of the Continent, 21 April 2009
By 
C. L. Dixon (England) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I just thought I'd provide the book's actual synopsis because I think it's more helpful than the product description up there ^

"The roots of our ancestry lie in Africa. John Reader's brilliant, panoramic survey traces the development of this huge continent from its earliest geological formation and the beginnings of life, through to the civil wars and genocide that mark it today. He explores the complex, widely differing societies from the great inland estuaries of the Niger and the Okavango, to the rain forests of the Equator and the deserts of the North, the devastating impact of European exploitation on those societies and the recent emergence of independent nations. Challenging many widely held misconceptions, his illuminating account will change the way many people think about Africa."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Africa from molten rock to modern politics - astounding, 8 Oct. 2012
By 
C. P. Hennessy "Pete Hennessy" (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely well written book, 19 July 2001
By A Customer
I enjoyed the clear, flowing style, packed with facts that are well referenced. If you have an interest in geology, anthropology, history, politics, evolution, in fact anything....... its all here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, 29 May 2007
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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