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on 18 February 2012
"The Lost Kingdoms of Africa" is the companion to the BBC series first televised in 2010.

On his tireless journey across the continent, Gus Casely-Hayford brings to light some of the diverse cultures and civilizations which have arisen in Africa since earliest times. Discoveries in the West showing that Africans were making pottery at a time that Europe was just coming out of the last ice age, the raising of Pyramids, Castles and Cathedrals in the North East, forgotten trading cities in the East, massive stone built construction in the South, the seat of empires in the North West which not only ruled in Africa, but also in Europe. We see that from earliest times Africa has always been in the mainstream of human development and has been a major player in the system of global trade.

What I liked about this book is that it is also part travelogue where the reader is taken on a tour of a contemporary Africa. One sees not just the physical historical evidence in the form of architecture, artefacts and art, but you also meet the modern day descendants and experts whose testimonies help to evoke echoes of the past.
There is a living and vibrant feel to the authors' presentation and he aims to show the techniques (archaeology, written or oral records) used to uncover the past.

Whilst there is much more that could be said about these histories, having completed the book, I think he got the level of detail just right considering the amount of ground he covered - Sudan, Ethiopia, the East Coast, the Great Lakes region, Southern Africa, West Africa and North Africa.

This book is a good introduction to African History. For those who are already familiar with this history, you are certain to find something in its pages which is new and enlightening. There are many photographs included and the drawings made by the author are a nice touch.

I found the book a pleasure to read and I would certainly recommend it.
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on 30 November 2013
This is a personal account of Casely-Hayford's travels during the making of the BBC television series "The Lost Kingdoms of Africa". Descriptions of scenery, people, art and architecture are mixed, rather uneasily, with the stories of the various "lost kingdoms" of the title. It makes for a choppy narrative, though Casely-Hayford's enthusiasm shines through constantly.
The book closely follows the structure of the TV episodes - Casely-Hayford is always driving somewhere so that he can pick up the next bit of the historical narrative. But the TV crew is never mentioned. Casely-Hayford writes as if he really did just walk into the bush for an hour and happen upon a Zulu woman who was happy to show him around her village, as if he really did hire an aircraft on impulse one afternoon, and as if his travels, just by accident, generated a neat chain of historical evidence of the kind one could hang a TV programme on. After a while, these repeated blithe assertions ("Then, as the sun sets, I happen upon ...") begin to get a little wearing.
The book could also have benefited from a little more sub-editing. Some of Casely-Hayford's sentences need to be read a few times to pull the meaning out of them. He repeatedly uses the word "slither" instead of "sliver". And he accidentally introduces one hilarious image in the form of a Zulu cattle "carrel" - as if the Zulus had built little individual library cubicles to allow their cows to do a bit of private study.
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on 2 December 2012
In a highly interesting book that accompanies the BBC documentary series, Gus Casely-Hayford takes the reader through the history of several areas of the African continent. Despite his academic background (PhD in African History from the London School of African and Oriental Studies), the author presents his knowledge and experiences in the vibrant manner of an enthusiatic traveller, rather than as a text for formal study. There are several superb colour illustrations included, plus prints of some high-quality pencil sketches by the author himself. Casely-Hayford's prose is as majestic as some of the man-made structures he describes, and although it is sometimes difficult to make swift progress through a rich array of evocative adjectives and vivid metaphors, his fantastic destinations, when finally reached, make every step of each journey worthwhile.
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on 25 May 2015
As an exploration of some of the diverse cultures of Africa past and present, this book is excellent. It should be noted that this not a pure work of history, but is more akin to a travel guide with a distinct focus upon history and archaeology. It sets the African ancient and medieval past within the context of modern society, and suggests some tantalising continuous narratives that connect the past to the present. Although you may not agree with every interpretation that is made in this way, they are nevertheless important to make, as history is not simply about the deep, murky and inaccessible past - it is also about continuity. This book is definitely worth picking up as a starting point towards further, more in depth study of past African societies and cultures!
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on 17 April 2012
Liked the TV series (mainly for superb photography) and bought book as was a deal with DVD. Book style was too chatty and not very authoritative- have just read more accurate history of Ethiopia. Some things were particularly odd, such as the repeated comments that an ancient Christian kingdom (Ethiopia) would rever their Emperor as a "god". Given the lightweight style would have liked more coloured pictures/ photos
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on 20 March 2012
Excellent book following wonderful series....having many associations with Africa this book provided much needed background of the cultural makeup of Africa and it's peoples
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on 6 March 2012
I was excited about watching this DVD and being further enlightened to a part of history that has deliberably been forgotten and often denied. Still think is is worthy of a few more DVDs as I believe not everything (nor can it be) has been discovered and told. Nevertheless, good job and good start...
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on 8 November 2013
A refreshingly insightful and well researched study into African kingdoms. This should be recommended for anyone who has an interest in history in general
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on 5 June 2014
I love it!!!! it has satisfied my expectation. I definitely recommend it to a friend. Congratulation to the writer. Good job.
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on 2 December 2015
Fantastic book with great photos that accompanies the BBC Series superbly
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