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Africans: The History of a Continent

3.29  ·  Rating Details ·  98 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
In a vast and all-embracing study of Africa, from the origins of mankind to the South African general election of 1994, John Iliffe refocuses African history on the peopling of an environmentally hostile continent. Africans have been pioneers struggling against disease and nature, and their social, economic and political institutions have been designed to ensure survival a ...more
Hardcover, 365 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Cambridge University Press (first published August 25th 1995)
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Mar 15, 2017 Larissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very, very terrible, and I could not finish it in time for my midterm. It was basically a long, chaotic list of all the events that might have happened and happened in the African continent, in no logical structure whatsoever. Let me illustrate this with a sentence that represents 3/4 of this book: "Trade was probably important in several of these political aggregations, especially perhaps trade with itinerant merchants...". Okay, so you're not sure about this sentence, I get it. W ...more
Thomas Armstrong
I bought this book in 2001 when I was in New York to see the William Blake exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I started reading it but then was interrupted for several years (something that sometimes happens with the books that I'm reading, for various reasons), and just now finished the book! I'd say that it's strength is its comprehensiveness and compactness. It's weakness is that it just tries to do too much and loses most of the tone color of the continent (he threw in the occasio ...more
Ed Callahan
Nov 27, 2013 Ed Callahan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: World History teachers, history teachers
Shelves: world-history
Iliffe has a daunting task: how do you tell the history of a continent with as much diversity as Africa and do it within a manageable number of pages? Moreover, how do you tell the tale in such a way that both the good and the bad can be visible? Africa is a complex, diverse, often frustrating, fascinating place.

Iliffe has to paint with broad brushes. Sometimes he understates issues, such as the atrocities of the Belgian Congo. Other times he spends much time in discussing issues such as AIDS. W
Paul Andrus
May 11, 2012 Paul Andrus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work, facdev
The book has about the right level of detail for me. I found it readable, interesting, and surprisingly lively is spite of an epic subject. I appreciated the factual approach, with little to no politics.
Jack Kruse
We used this book for a grad school class and it's a pretty good read but could use about 30 pages of charts and maps (at least). I have more thorough notes on this book on my blog For Unofficial Use Only.

Chapters 1-6

**Precolonial history is important but very little of this history is written down.***
***Pay attention to Iliffe's theme of social organizations and horizontal structures.***

Questions: with his methodology--what are you most/least confident about?

- Population is the most signif
Anders K.
Oct 01, 2014 Anders K. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Iliffe attempts a daunting task, namely that of - concisely - telling the story of an entire continent. Sacrifices obviously have to be made along the way, so it has a necessary effect of frequently leaving the reader wanting more. The biggest downside to the book is that its brevity often leads to dry syntax which can get boring after a while. Nevertheless, Iliffe has done a great job of creating a comprehensive and concise history of Africa, and deftly demonstrates his main theme of demographi ...more
David Withun
Jun 10, 2012 David Withun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book was a superb overview of the history of Africa. For the great length of history and great geographic area that this book covers in only about 300 pages, Illife does a fantastic job of ensuring that the reader is familiar with the great events of African history, spending just the right amount of time on each topic and always sure to discuss the various economic, political, cultural, religious, etc. factors of each period and place. For those who know little (as I did) about the history ...more
This is a very serious candidate for the most concise easy to digest book on the whole of Africa. Covers everything from precolonial Africa to the current issues that the continent faces. Illiffe writes succinctly and caters to readers who may not be familiar with the topic, but manages to maintain a high level of academic authority.
Mar 22, 2012 Julia marked it as read-in-part  ·  review of another edition
Read ch. 8-10
Apr 01, 2011 Jeanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Information is interesting, but it is hard to read, and very difficult to follow.
Caleb Stephens
Oct 17, 2009 Caleb Stephens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful, concise synopsis of African history. I enjoyed it but read it a while ago and don't remember that much.
Toni Rosa
Nov 30, 2016 Toni Rosa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mucha info, una narración entre caótica y apasionada y, sobre todo, condiciones materiales en un libro imprescindible.

Qué coméis
how can i say my opinion about the book without reading it???
Jul 30, 2011 Stefan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Lecture pénible. Traduction visiblement douteuse. Éparpillé. Brouillon. J'espère qu'il existe d'autres livres sur l'histoire de l'Afrique...
Called "superb" by William Easterly --
Adwild rated it really liked it
Feb 26, 2011
Raphaëlle rated it it was ok
Feb 02, 2011
Andre rated it liked it
Mar 27, 2010
Ray rated it it was ok
Nov 23, 2015
Caroline McMaster
Caroline McMaster rated it liked it
Nov 20, 2013
Erica Frazier
Erica Frazier rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2012
RSK rated it really liked it
Jul 31, 2011
Alistair Boddy-Evans
Alistair Boddy-Evans rated it it was ok
Jan 01, 2017
Elena rated it really liked it
Jun 08, 2016
Amélie Grenon
Amélie Grenon rated it liked it
Apr 25, 2017
Karen rated it really liked it
May 22, 2014
Robertt rated it really liked it
Apr 15, 2017
Feb 27, 2013 Nranger7 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really well written history on Africa
Myriam rated it it was ok
Jan 06, 2011
Naomi Richardson
Naomi Richardson rated it liked it
Apr 14, 2017
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