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How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,375 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Paperback, 312 pages
Published January 1st 1981 by Howard University Press (first published 1972)
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Alexandra "Development in human society is a many-sided process. At the level of the individual, it implies increased skill and capacity, grater freedom…more"Development in human society is a many-sided process. At the level of the individual, it implies increased skill and capacity, grater freedom creativity, self-discipline, responsibility and material well-being." -Walter Rodney(less)
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Mar 18, 2008 Huyen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: renee
Despite some naïve visions of the success of communism in the Soviet Union and China that might sound very silly to us (considering the book was written in 1972), this book still has some very persuasive points that explain African underdevelopment. The main theme of the book is that underdevelopment was made possible by positive feedback loops starting with the uneven development in earlier centuries enforced by European constant exploitation of raw materials and human labor from Africa. It tra ...more
May 17, 2012 Lawrence rated it it was amazing
Why does Africa seem to be lagging behind general global development? I believe that it is not only the current and aftereffects of European domination,but the mindset of Africans themselves.
The same type of destruction of traditional culture took place on other continents by Europeans, but Africa seems to have borne the brunt of it all.
There is a self-evident intolerance within the Caucasian psyche for African features and values, and thus there has been a continuous process of assimilation.
I a
Jan 19, 2011 Xuyen rated it liked it
A really good text for anyone familiar with Africa and its contemporary problems. The book is an economic analysis of how Europe engaged in an unequal relationship with Africa and subsequently exploited the hell out of the country -- and specifically how this form of colonialism differed from other parts of the world. Rodney posits that Europe and Africa had a dialectical relationship where Europe's development was dependent upon the underdevelopment of Africa. He argues there is an intimate and ...more
Mar 26, 2008 Ursula rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa
Amazing! Incredible! Eye-opening, ground-breaking, gripping, exciting, wonderful!

I love this book and I wished I had read it years ago. Not only does it throw open the colonial exploitation of Africa, but it brings pre-Colonial and pre-European-Slave-Trade Africa to life. Rodney puts together a biting criticism of Europe's interaction with Africa starting in the 15th century with trading, both the slave trade and the trade in goods. This essentially killed inter-Africa trade, forcing African civ
Feb 06, 2009 Rashida rated it really liked it
Just read this for class. It is a political/economic commentary on capitalism from the perspective of a socialist. If you care or wonder about the socioeconomic conditions of African nations and why it is the way it is read this book- a little bit at a time.
Jerald Andrew
Jul 03, 2013 Jerald Andrew rated it really liked it
First I had bought and read this book as a teenager, then I had to read it in college. Now - I found it and wanted to read it again just for myself. Changed my thinking. I am going to re-read the mis-education of the negro.
Jul 23, 2013 kripsoo rated it it was amazing
A historiographical approach to the detriment of African plight and continued exploitation Very relevant today and good for anyone searching for suppressed historical truths A Book for all who seek to know the truth about African nations oppression and subjugation by the Secret government behind the Western powers Europe and other developed nations of the Western world are handgloves through which the globalist operate to keep nations impoverished and in debt Africa was the experiment and now th ...more
Jan 03, 2009 Gina rated it it was amazing
Excellent review of the issues caused by colonialism. The author tries to strike a balance between both sides of the issue, and covers complex problems in a very approachable manner.
Steven Berbec
Mar 09, 2016 Steven Berbec rated it it was amazing
This is a history lesson all of us in the West must give ourselves to. The legacy and work that Rodney has left behind is still blazing and still waiting for a people to take up the torch and set ablaze the hearts of men who are still being exploited and caught up in the myths of development. After reading the post-script, I felt responsible and would like to believe I have been making my way toward this responsibility, but ever so slowly—thoroughly.

Considering where I am today, it is of no coin
Oct 01, 2010 Wale rated it it was amazing
A truly seminal work of historic analysis. I should have read this some years back but didn't, I'm glad that has been rectified.
Though I don't agree with the author's pre-suppositions on socialism, his insights and analyses of Africa's contact with capitalist Europe through slave trade and colonialism, and Africa's development before this contact occured are eye-opening to say the least.
Feb 16, 2009 Msbongi rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely required reading for all those who are interested in African/African American History. I study this book during college as part of a work-study program. Others books included were Capitalism and Slavery; The World and Africa; and George Padmore's book on Pan Africanism.
Aug 23, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it
This book is an excellent overview of African history stressing its cultural organization and accomplishments prior to European colonization and the way colonization destroyed that organization and developed African resources in ways that did not benefit Africa.

I however don't agree with Rodney where he asserts on p. 75 that "Africa helped develop Western Europe in the same proportion as Western Europe helped to underdevelop Africa." While European expropriation of African labor and raw materia
Oct 02, 2013 Cayo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Rodney's book conveys how Europe and the US got to the positions they are in today, and of course, how Africa was REDUCED to the state it is in now. He shows how the aggrandizement of the West is directly tied to the immense amount of knowledge and resources that Africa provided prior to the coming of the slave trade and colonialism (however he could have elaborated on this more), followed by the benefits of the hyper-exploitation that Africans endured due to the actions of the racist, hypocriti ...more
Jul 09, 2007 Colin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: marxists, politcal economy nerds, anti-racist folks, anti-globalization activists
Rodney provides a well-researched and detailed Marxist analysis of the systemic role of European colonialism, racism, and capitalist exploitation and its impact on the history of Africa. The book seems a bit dated now (it was originally published in 1972), particularly in regards to Rodney's unquestioningly high regard for Mao's China and other "socialist" governments that have since been more thoroughly critiqued. However, the negative economic effects of "free trade"/globalization/colonialism ...more
Nov 01, 2007 Leeann rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ANYONE with an open mind
I read this book while studying abroad in Sub-Saharan Africa. It's amazing. Highly recommend it! Will give you more insight into the continent of Africa than watching an Oprah special...
This is one of the earliest and very best applications of dependency theory. Anyone interested in neo-Marxist theories of political economy ought to read this book.
Casca Amanquah Hackman
Jul 30, 2013 Casca Amanquah Hackman rated it it was amazing
Wow! What an eye opener? The historical trace of global economics to its present dynamism is serious. It remains the best book I have ever read.
Jun 09, 2008 Steve added it
Eye opening description of what capitalist exploitation of Africa has looked like since the 16th century.
Feb 27, 2013 Noirfifre rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A must read for a different account which shows the reason behind the current state of affairs in Africa.
Kar De kouss
Deeply touching! Gave me a real insight of the relationship between Europe and Africa...
Tricia Wagner
Amazing book
Urko Beltran De Guevara
Mar 09, 2016 Urko Beltran De Guevara rated it really liked it
excellent overview of the economic impact of colonialism and how post colonial capitalist production is hindered/ formed in its image. Learnt about macro economic subjugation in greater detail, gives full picture of methods of extortion of western powers and how they help/ compete with each other. rich in detail of lost history of africas rich past: cultural / technological prowess/ material abundance. died way to young !
May 03, 2014 WillJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should be on all curricula, everywhere; home-school,
public, parochial or private, it should be read and re-read
by everyone whatever their social/cultural background. It should
have been a must-read on my high school curriculum. It is essential
reading for insight into the gaps which exist between the developed
and underdeveloped parts of the globe.
Thomas Warf
May 02, 2008 Thomas Warf rated it liked it
This book had sections that I found very interesting, while other sections I plodded through slowly. I've read that this book is outdated and that Rodney's arguments have been disproved, however I found this book very convincing, and his reasoning sound. I also enjoyed some of Rodney's overly enthusiastic endorsements of communism, written in 1972 well before the fall of the Soviet Union he has interesting things to say, many of which now look silly, and may fuel the people who say his arguments ...more
Jul 19, 2014 Mel rated it really liked it
Amazing analysis. Filled with the information no-one ever taught me in school. Probably need to read it about 20 more times before I completely catch and understand everything.
Mar 13, 2014 Allan rated it really liked it
Great read. I don't necessarily agree will all his ideals but his arguments are well presented. The author clearly did his research (extensively!!). The discussion on what is ailing our continent should be talked about in schools particularly at the high school and university levels.

This book is loaded with statistics particularly in the middle section of the book. A reader can easily get lost or lose interest, especially if you don't have an analytical mind.

The chapters on colonialism are intr
May 21, 2015 Femmy rated it really liked it
The book is a guide to make sense of Africa's predicament.
Obehi Peter Ewanfoh
Oct 18, 2015 Obehi Peter Ewanfoh rated it it was amazing
This is one of the books I will always keep.
Victor Mongi
Apr 30, 2015 Victor Mongi marked it as to-read
Would like to know the main themes of this book?
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It’s incredible how the systems were created 1 1 Oct 18, 2015 07:26PM  
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Walter Rodney was born in British Guiana. Rodney was killed by a bomb in his car at the age of 38.
More about Walter Rodney...

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“For the only great men among the unfree and the oppressed are those who struggle to destroy the oppressor.” 12 likes
“After all, if there is no class stratification in a society, it follows that there is no state, because the state arose as an instrument to be used by a particular class to control the rest of society in its own interests.” 7 likes
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