AFRICA: A BIOGRAPHY OF THE CONTINENT (John Reader)
In 1978, paleontologists in East Africa discovered the earliest evidence of our divergence from the apes: three pre-human footprints, striding away from a volcano, were preserved in the petrified surface of a mudpan over three million years ago. Out of Africa, the world's most ancient and stable landmass, Homo sapiens dispersed across the globe. And yet the continent that gave birth to human history has long been woefully misunderstood and mistreated by the rest of the world.
In a book as splendid in its wealth of information as it is breathtaking in scope, British writer and photojournalist John Reader brings to light Africa's geology and evolution, the majestic array of its landforms and environments, the rich diversity of its peoples and their ways of life, the devastating legacies of slavery and colonialism as well as recent political troubles and triumphs. Written in simple, elegant prose and illustrated with Reader's own photographs, Africa: A Biography of the Continent is an unforgettable book that will delight the general reader and expert alike.
THE AFRIKANERS: BIOGRAPHY OF A PEOPLE (Hermann Giliomee)
"A book to welcome - a history of the Afrikaners from the first European settlement to the present day by a proud and even patriotic Afrikaner which is nevertheless critical in its approach and untainted by Afrikaner nationalism. It includes an account of the origins and demise of apartheid that must rank as the most sober, objective and comprehensive that we have." -J.M. Coetzee, Winner of Nobel Prize, 2003
This work is a biography of the Afrikaner people by historian and journalist Herman Giliomee, one of the earliest and staunchest Afrikaner opponents of apartheid. Weaving together life stories and historical interpretation, he creates a narrative history of the Afrikaners from their beginnings with the colonisation of the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch East India Company to the dismantling of apartheid and beyond.
While documenting - and revising - the history of the Afrikaners' pursuit of racial domination (as well as British contributions to that enterprise), Giliomee supplies Afrikaners' own, often divided, perspectives on their history, perspectives not always or entirely skewed by their struggle for privilege at Africans' expense. The result is not only a magisterial history of the Afrikaners but a fuller understanding of their history, which, for good or ill, resonates far beyond the borders of South Africa.
A LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (Nelson Mandela)
"A tale of anger and sorrow, love and joy, grace and elegance." -Daily News
"Burns with the luminosity of faith in the invincible nature of human hope and dignity ... Unforgettable" -Andre Brink
"Enthralling ... Mandela emulates the few great political leaders such as Lincoln and Gandhi, who go beyond mere consensus and move out ahead of their followers to break new ground" -Sunday Times
The famously taciturn South African president reveals much of himself in Long Walk to Freedom. A good deal of this autobiography was written secretly while Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island by South Africa's apartheid regime. Among the book's interesting revelations is Mandela's ambivalence toward his lifetime of devotion to public works. It cost him two marriages and kept him distant from a family life he might otherwise have cherished. Long Walk to Freedom also discloses a strong and generous spirit that refused to be broken under the most trying circumstances--a spirit in which just about everybody can find something to admire.
THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA (Thomas Pakenham)
"Magnificent, vigorous, comprehensive, compulsive reading." -Daily Telegraph
"This is like exploring history in a Rolls Royce." -Kirkus
The scramble for Africa astonished everyone. In 1880 most of the continent was still ruled by Africans and barely explored. By 1902, five European Powers had grabbed almost the whole continent, giving themselves 30 new colonies and protectorates and 10 million square miles of land. The inspiration came from the heroic death in 1873 of the missionary-explorer, David Livingstone. He had exposed the horrors of the slave trade still in progress.
Livingstone's call for Africa to be redeemed by the three "C"s - commerce, Christianity and civilisation - was aimed at the conscience of the civilized world. The response came from rival colonial enthusiasts in Europe. There were journalist-explorers like Henry Stanley, sailor-explorers like Pierre de Brazza (who gave his name to Brazzaville and its beach) and gold and diamond tycoons like Cecil Rhodes.
THE BOER WAR (Thomas Pakenham)
"Hypnotically readable... a tremendous piece of research... this is grand-scale history with heroes and villains... hot, impassioned work, and I recommend it wholeheartedly." -Newsweek
"Superb... Pakenham's finest achievement..." -New York Review of Books
"This is a wonderful book: brilliantly written..." -A.J.P. Taylor
The Boers of South Africa responded to Britain's annexation of the gold-and-diamond-rich Transvaal region by declaring war on October 11, 1899. The English believed the fighting would be over by Christmas, never dreaming they were on the brink of one of the longest, bloodiest, most costly and humiliating military campaigns in their history. Mammoth in scope and scholarship, as vivid, fast-moving and breathtakingly compelling as the finest fiction. Thomas Pakenham's The Boer War is the definitive account of this extraordinary conflict, a war precipitated by greed and marked by almost inconcievable blundering and brutalities, and whose shattering repercussions can be felt to this very day.