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

The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham
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's review
Jun 13, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: irish-authors

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 the populist historian. Very similar (in his own way) to David McCullough. End notes, not footnotes, to keep the narrative pace going. In very many ways, it read like a novel.

My only critique might be the overuse of certain clichés: "toss in the sponge" popped up over and over again. However in the course of nearly 800-pages, this is a quibble.

What's amazing to consider is that even at 800-odd pages, this is a gloss on the entire story; every chapter I'm sure could engender any number of equally interesting books.

Africa (to me, as one who has never been there) is a somewhat magical place, filled with mystery and misery and (again, to me) so much potential. I'd love to see a sequel; but that wouldn't be history. Yet.
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Reading Progress

June 13, 2010 – Shelved
June 13, 2010 – Shelved as: irish-authors
August 21, 2010 – Started Reading
August 21, 2010 –
page 47
5.88% (Paperback Edition)
August 28, 2010 –
page 399
49.88% (Paperback Edition)
September 6, 2010 –
page 543
67.88% (Paperback Edition)
September 13, 2010 – Finished Reading

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