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The Scramble for Africa: The White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876 to 1912
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The Scramble for Africa: The White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876 to 1912

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  917 ratings  ·  64 reviews
White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent
from 1876 to 1912
Paperback, 800 pages
Published December 1st 1992 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1991)
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Malette Poole
A comprehensive look at how Africa became colonized. The surprising part is how late in the 19th Century it actually happened. Another is how Belgium, created as a "buffer state" between France and Germany and ruled by one of Victoria's favorite uncles, became a major player. The events in this book lead to actions and reactions that are still being played out on the continent of Africa.

As I progress, it is all too easy to see the results of artificial boundaries set by Europeans for their own p
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'Aussie Rick'




This massive book (738 pages plus photos & maps) offers the reader an interesting and enjoyable account of the European powers race to 'civilize' the African continent. The book covers the great explorers, the numerous battles and conflicts (between the European powers and the natives and between the European powers) and many other interesting items during this 'scramble for Africa'. I found this book to be a great read, very enjoyable and although the size may be daunting it never got borin
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Al
This was a tremendous example of scholarship, that is as good as Packenham's book on the Boer War. While this book is long, Packenham's writing drives the narrative along. He also organized the book extremely well. The chapters are chronological, moving from one part of Africa to another, so the narrative never drags. Additionally, Packenham fleshed out the main characters in this saga in a way that makes them more three dimensional than is usually found in narrative histories of this type. For ...more
Tim
Thomas Pakenham's sprawling story of the slicing up of a continent by European powers is fascinating, suitably large and well-written. "The Scramble for Africa" presents a panorama of villains and heroes, both white and black, but paints it with shades of gray.

Pakenham takes us all over the continent that the superpowers of the day despicably carved up at their whim with little thought about the human beings they were affecting. People being people and therefore capable of evil no matter who th
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Paul
Sep 12, 2007 Paul rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Librarians
This is the only book on my "read" shelf that i actually never finished. i got about two thirds or so into it and gave up.

Don't get me wrong, this is a great work, it's just so insanely detailed that a person can't hope to retain enough info to make the read worthwhile.

After hours of reading about literally hundreds of personalities here's what i retained:

* Livingston was a good man who unintentionally hastened colonization
* Stanley was a newspaper reporter made himself famous by attaching himse
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Jrohde
by far the best account of African history from mid 19th century to independence.. a must read - I liked it for the juxtaposition of historical events happening simultaneously - it gave a far better overview of the continent than the many books I have read on one country at a time. Read Meridith's State of Africa for a telling follow-on
Nigel
There are times when this book is like a long, endless slog through dense jungle with water and food running low and the natives looking unfriendly and most of the porters giving up and going home; but still the far distant waters of some undiscovered river beckons the fevered brain. It is dense with detail. There are two whole continents involved and this astonishing thirty years changes at least one of them into something unrecognisable, and all for reasons that were, initially at least, perfe ...more
Frank
I started this for the oddest of reasons: the author is from my hometown (sort of). Thomas Pakenham is the 8th Earl of Longford, whose family seat is Tullynally Castle, a few kilometers west of Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath. Besides being an internationally renown historian, he's also an arborist and brother to the novelist Antonia Frasier.

It looked to be a daunting read: it's almost as thick as it is wide. But it was brilliant. Pakenham is a great writer; witty as well as erudite, he personifies
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Tony

THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA: White Man’s Conquest of the Dark Continent From 1876 to 1912. (1991). Thomas Pakenham. ****.
It’s incredible to see what happened in Africa during these thirty-six years, and how the events shaped all of Africa’s subsequent history. This is a dense and scholarly history of the period that provides a little of the history of the “dark continent” before the stated dates, but those events were mostly involved with the exploration of the continent itself – of which very litt
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Malapata
Pakenham traza un excelente retrato de los años en los que el África subsahariana pasó de ser una zona ignorada por las potencias europeas a convertirse en el escenario en el que se jugaban su orgullo nacional. Exploradores, aventureros, militares y políticos aparecen como protagonistas de una historia que va desde el sueño del rey Leopoldo II de conseguir una colonia para Bélgica a las primeras rebeliones contra el poder extranjero.

El libro hace un repaso exhaustivo de estos años de manera cron
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Margitte
THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA: White Man’s Conquest of the Dark Continent From 1876 to 1912. (1991). Thomas Pakenham.

I read this book, or parts of the massive work, in my thirties and it opened up thirty five years of shocking greed, colonialism, corruption and human rights abuse in a compelling, detailed and straightforward way that I haven't encountered in so much detail afterwards. Since then I still revert back to it from time to time and it never seizes to amaze me.

Thomas Pakenham's research ensu
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Azra Šabovic
I must say, I really enjoyed Pakenhams handling of substantial material and complicated subject matter into an enjoyable, easy to read narrative.

The story contains multiple number of characters, where the most attention gets the Belgian King Leopold. His actions are costumed in virtuous humanitarianism showing that he is the catalyst for the motivation on the exploitation of Africa. Pakenham describes him as, "Leopold was a Coburg millionaire, a constitutional monarch malgre lui, a throwback fr
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D.E. Meredith
Read this one twice. Great to dip into. Massive tome of superb erudition. Very impressive history must read. If you want to kow about Africa, colonialism and the Victorians - what better place to start? Follow this up by George Meredith's book on the African states after independence, I suggest. Maybe by way of some Niall Fergason's "Empire."
Linda
Pakenham is more story-teller than historian - going at the story of the scramble through the great man of history approach. He presents us with character portraits of the European explorers, African leaders etc involved - which helps explain why this book is accessible despite being 700 pages long and dealing with basically unfamiliar events (to me, at least). The problem with this approach is that Pakenham's writing often goes into bargain bin novelistic tendencies - whether it's just ridiculo ...more
Anthony
At 680 pages, this is a daunting and lengthy historical text on a subject not often discussed or reflected upon in my daily thoughts and conversations. Despite this, The Scramble for Africa lives up to the recommendation that persuaded me to pick it up, as this was a surprisingly enjoyable and informative read. After having completed this book over the past month I feel more informed regarding both African and European history and have a much deeper respect for the ongoing struggles faced by the ...more
Mike
It took me almost a year to finish this book, and finally it was the prospect of such that compelled me to push through the last 200 pages.

This must be, without a doubt, the most comprehensive examination of the Scramble for Africa. While it was very long (680 pages) I never really found it tiring to read. There is a good alternation between geography and national interaction, as well as well defined recurring characters. It almost reads like a novel.

I think some of the best books, fiction or
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Robert

If you are not interested in Africa, this book probably isn't for you: it is extremely detailed.
I mean, for almost every European, there is like a small story of his life AND his physical appearance. Even if you just want to know some things about the Scramble, you know, to stir up conversations and seem like an educated person, this work still isn't for you. You must love Africa to dig into this.

Don't let this confuse you: this book isn't dry or boring. It is actually very entertaining, with m
...more
Gijs Grob
Levendige beschrijving van de gebeurtenissen die uiteindelijk leidden tot de volledige opdeling van Afrika. Pakenham schrijft erg levendig, met mooie sfeerzettingen die je meteen ín het paleis, de jungle, de woestijn of de veldslag plaatsen, en met een duidelijke keuze voor sleutelmomenten. Hij heeft goed oog voor detail en partij- en machtspolitiek en zo blijkt de opdeling van Afrika mede bijgedragen te hebben aan het ontstaan van de eerste wereldoorlog. Zo wordt het boek een meeslepend relaas ...more
Ryan Murdock
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It's a 700 page brick of a book with very small print, but I had trouble putting it down. Pakenham covers these turbulent 30 years of African history in great detail - jumping around the continent following explorers and conquerors, and back to Europe to trace the manipulative course of diplomacy and intrigue between the great powers. His writing is vivid and fast paced, and he brings these characters and events to life with a novelist's skill. A must for any trave ...more
Sven
This is not an easy read. But for anyone who wants to understand Africa today, it's an important source. The author outlines the 30 years of the "Scramble", in which 5 European powers took over almost the entire continent. They brought guns and Bibles, Christianity and horror, dreams of gold and power, and took, well..., anything they could take.

If you wonder why the Congo is such a mess, read this (and also "King Leopold's Ghost") and you'll have an idea how colonials destroyed the people and c
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Jem Bruce
Excellent. Superbly written and despite being non-fiction this book reads like a novel. Very compelling and I could not put it down. A wealth of historical information and a great read - as was Pakenham's book, The Boer War. Thoroughly recommended.
Herrikias
The book is a general history of events from Dr. Livingstone's plea to bring the 3C's to Africa, to the end of land grabs and suppressing locals in the early 20th century, the book focuses heavily on the European end of things. Heavy emphasis on the political maneuvering between the major powers and battles fought. The political can especially bog one down if you're not already interested in it. Along the way there is still tantalizing glimpses into the cultures conquered and wiped out (although ...more
Simon
A thoroughly absorbing and fascinating history about the European powers mad grab for colonies in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
Nick Tredger
Read this book right through twice - fascinating and accessible history
René
An excellent overview on how the main European powers stole and cheated their way into Africa, taking gross advantage of their superior fire-power to take people apart and destroy the fabric of several societies. It covers both the political theatre, mainly in England, France, Germany and Belgium, as well as the in-the-dirt work of well-meaning explorers as well as the worst capitalists history ever saw, including Leopold, King of the Belgians, who exploited Congo with no thought ever given to a ...more
Paul Danahar
The only book you need to read on this subject.
Tom
Taught me a lot about a topic about which I came in knowing very little. Wish the author had made a greater effort to tie together the many threads he had going in the over 700 page work. Pakenham has a real talent for capturing the unique personalities of the explorers and rulers who appear throughout. And to his credit, he never shows a hint of bias toward any of the colonial powers or the African regions they were trying to exploit. Overall, would recommend to history buffs but not the casual ...more
Matt
Comprehensive collection of narratives from the major players in Europe's scramble to divide up Africa between 1876 and 1912. What emerges is a tale of conflict between unchecked greed and savagery on one side and patronizing care and genuine goodwill on the other. Although it is easy to focus on the many abuses, Packenham presents a balanced history with plenty of villains, but a surprising number of heroes as well. An excellent read for anyone interested in the events that created the national ...more
Mike Edwards
A surprisingly readable overview of sub-Saharan African history, that tracks the period of time when Europe first began to take notice of Africa as more than a convenient place to put a few ports between Europe and the East Indies. While a wide swath of countries are discussed, it focuses most of its attention on the horrors of Dutch colonization of the Congo and the English/Boer conflicts in South Africa. A must-read for anyone interested in how the political divisions within Africa came to loo ...more
Nathan
Narrative of the European conquest and control of Africa c.1875-1910. Focuses a little too much on the big set-piece events, but admirably tries to cover all the Powers, not just the British (as these things tend to do too often). However, would have liked a some stuff about Portugal, which only happened in the very last chapter. Solid, but was written n 1991 and therefore is a little optimistic about the post-colonial Zimbabwe. Rated PG for some adult themes and war. 3/5
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Thomas Francis Dermot Pakenham, 8th Earl of Longford, is known simply as Thomas Pakenham. He is an Anglo-Irish historian and arborist who has written several prize-winning books on the diverse subjects of Victorian and post-Victorian British history and trees. He is the son of Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford, a Labour minister and human rights campaigner, and Elizabeth Longford.

Thomas Pakenha
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