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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 10 April 2015
The Scramble for Africa was a term coined to describe the great rush in the late 19tth Century by the European powers to claim a slice of the African continent. In a period of some 30 years the continent went from scattered European control (except at the Cape and on the North African coast) to be completely divided between Great Britain (receiving the Lion's share), France (the runner up with the bulk of North West Africa), Germany, Portugal and surprisingly Belgium. The Europeans would hold onto their territories for only a short period (most were out of Africa by the early 1960s) yet in that time, they shaped the fate of the continent, which is being felt now and for many years to come.

While over 20 years old, this book may be the definitive guide for the topic. Thomas Parkenham's work goes into great detail, but not in a dry way, looking at the not just the scramble, but also at events leading up to it over different time periods. The book is broken into 4 parts, the situation in Africa before the scramble begins, the start of the actual scramble lading up to the Conference of Berlin of 1885 where rules were put into place to govern the allocation of territory from the African cake(though these rules were not enforced) and where Leopold of Belgium managed to manipulate the great powers and had his possessions in the Congo (over 1 million square miles!) ratified. The next section deals with the main land grab of Africa and then the last main part shows the resistance to the European powers and the reform efforts that were undertaken by said Powers.

We look at the great figures like Livingstone (briefly), Stanley, the Englishman who became an America and who found Livingstone then continued his great exploration and ended up working for Leopold of Belgium and his great rival Brazza the Italian who became a passionate Frenchman who challenged Stanley in the face for the Congo in opening it up and adding to the sum of human knowledge We look at the great statesmen and the business men who led the charge into the continent and the reasons why, with exerts from their writings public and private in order to provide greater insight and humanize them. The book is crammed full of maps and illustrations which help us and bring this book to life.

My only complaint with this and it is minor, is that the paperback version of this is written in small type, making it harder to read for those of us with weaker eyes, otherwise this is one great work.
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on 21 April 2017
THE AUTHOR THOMAS PAKENHAM HAS THE KNACK OF JOINING SEPARATE HISTORICAL EVENTS INTO A SEAMLESS NARRATIVE AND HIS WRITING STYLE IS VERY READABLE. ALTHOUGH I AM ONLY 80 PAGES INTO THE 700 PAGE BOOK (WITH A VERY SMALL FONT SIZE) IT IS A MOST INFORMATIVE AND ENJOYABLE READ, APART FROM THE HARD LESSON OF LEARNING HOW THE EUROPEANS TREATED THE INDIGINOUS AFRICANS.
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on 15 November 2016
A very interesting book. A detailed vision of the scramble but unfortunatelly only from the british point of view. As an example of this the important portuguese territories are completelly ignored. Anyway a fascinating reading.
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on 10 September 2017
VERY GOOD VALUE
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on 16 July 2017
A good read
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on 23 April 2015
An amazing book that everybody should read. The awful, tragic history of a great continent with its fabulous peoples. The Europeans committed horrendous crimes and the African people are still suffering the consequences.
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on 21 July 2017
Brilliant, well written, very readable history of the period and the European pillage of Africa. Unfortunately not much has changed in the way the world treats the people of this beautiful continent.
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on 29 May 2015
I've trudged on through this tome and at times it's very good but after about half way I got bored with the political machinations and endless names and places, which didn't seem to fit very well with the last chapter etc.
It could've been condensed into say 400 pages. A glossary of names would have helped.
Maybe it shouldn't be read in one go as it gets too stodgy?!
But it has inspired me to find out more about Africa generally.
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on 28 July 2004
This is a very well written book covering an often-neglected (and rarely taught) era of history and area of the world.
It covers the era at the end of the 19thC when the european powers started carving up africa and attempts to answer some of the questions about why nations did this (the answer, it seems, is to stop others getting there first), and how.
Some of the detail is wonderful and you are struck by how much research Pakenham must have done. Unfortunately, in trying to cover a whole continent, Pakenham does tend to focus on the british angle and the big events at the expense of other nations, so there's a lot about the Belgian Congo, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan and Nigeria - but you're left wondering about the likes of Liberia, Libya, Senegal and others.
No one comes out particularly well, and towards the end there are some real horror stories. This is as much a lesson in politics as history, and essential reading about an area we should know more about already.
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on 26 August 2001
If you are hesitating in buying this book - don't. BUY IT NOW. It is a true labour of love written (if I recall correctly)after 10 years of research. It is extremely well-written and one of the best historical accounts I have ever read. Despite covering a relatively long period of time and an enormous geographical area (not just Africa but the politics of Europe) the author manages to bring it all together elegantly and accessibly. Time spent reading this book is a real pleasure.
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