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Marvellous and monumental,
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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.