Top positive review
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African History brought to Light
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.