The Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000-Year History of Wealth,

The Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000-Year History of Wealth, Greed, and Endeavor ➶ [Reading] ➸ The Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000-Year History of Wealth, Greed, and Endeavor By Martin Meredith ➫ – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk A sweeping history the fortune seekers, adventurers, despots, and thieves who have ruthlessly endeavored to extract gold, diamonds, and other treasures from Africa and its peopleAfrica has been covete A sweeping history the fortune seekers, adventurers, despots, of Africa: PDF ✓ and thieves who have ruthlessly endeavored to extract gold, diamonds, and other treasures from Africa and its peopleAfrica has been coveted for its rich natural resources ever since the era of the Pharaohs In past centuries, it was the lure of gold, ivory, and slaves that drew merchant adventurers and conquerors from afar In modern times, the focus of attention is on oil, diamonds, and other rare earth mineralsIn this vast and vivid panorama of history, Martin Meredith follows the fortunes of Africa over a period of , years The Fortunes PDF or With compelling narrative, he traces the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms and empires the spread of Christianity and Islam the enduring quest for gold and other riches the exploits of explorers and missionaries and the impact of European colonization He examines, too, the fate of modern African states and concludes with a glimpse of their futureHis cast of characters includes religious leaders, mining magnates, warlords, dictators, and many other legendary figures among them Mansa Musa, ruler of the medieval Mali empire, said to be the richest man the world has ever known.


10 thoughts on “The Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000-Year History of Wealth, Greed, and Endeavor

  1. Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin says:

    I think the author bit off a bitthan he could chew He covers the complete history of a whole continent over 5000 years I don t buy his main argument that Africa is a land of riches Yes, Africa has abundant mineral resources the kind that attracts fortune seekers but the bloody climate makes the place a charnel house of disease It is no accident the richest countries are in temperate climates The tropics are too damn hot to get anything done and host to the kinds of horrible diseases a I think the author bit off a bitthan he could chew He covers the complete history of a whole continent over 5000 years I don t buy his main argument that Africa is a land of riches Yes, Africa has abundant mineral resources the kind that attracts fortune seekers but the bloody climate makes the place a charnel house of disease It is no accident the richest countries are in temperate climates The tropics are too damn hot to get anything done and host to the kinds of horrible diseases and parasites that make life very hard So yes if you want to mine diamonds or coltan Africa has plenty but if you want to build a rich in terms of money civilization you have to go somewherehospitable like Provence The book itself rushes through countries and epochs It would be nice if the author narrowed his focus a bit and developeddetail It is a good general history but as such things go it is a mile wide and an inch deep.Update 6 12 2019 one of the reasons I viscerally dread climate change is that I hate the heat and a hotter world is not a pleasant prospect for me at a gut level never mind the volumes of data screaming out the consequences of climate change


  2. Chris Jaffe Chris Jaffe says:

    I found this to be an extremely disappointing book My disappointment partially came from how much I enjoyed and got out of the two previous books by Meredith about African history that I ve read The Fate of Africa and In the Name of Apartheid Actually, what I liked so much about those books helps explain why I was so disappointed in this one.Let s look at The Fate of Africa This was a broad overview of Africa since independence It is a work of pop history I don t mean that in any sort of i I found this to be an extremely disappointing book My disappointment partially came from how much I enjoyed and got out of the two previous books by Meredith about African history that I ve read The Fate of Africa and In the Name of Apartheid Actually, what I liked so much about those books helps explain why I was so disappointed in this one.Let s look at The Fate of Africa This was a broad overview of Africa since independence It is a work of pop history I don t mean that in any sort of insulting way Heck, no it was great pop history But all I mean is that in Fate, Meredith took the most well known stories of African countries since the 1950s and spend a chapter on each one Essentially, he was a teller of twice told tales But he did a really good job telling those tales and many weren t that familiar to me Meredith is by no means a world class expert on Africa He sa guy who reads what the experts have written and reports on it hence why I called him a teller of twice told tales But he knew enough about his material and he aimed at an achievable goal based on his knowledge of the material And that leads to the problem with this book He s aiming way too high The title tells us it s a 5,000 year history of the continent, but it s clear he doesn t know that much about huge chunks of the continent Let me put it to you this way this book consists of 71 chapters and the Portuguese voyagers show up in Chapter 10 Yeah, the first 4,500 years out of 5,000 cover just 9 out of 71 chapters Look, I know there is a lack of written records for much of the continent I don t expect the book to spend equal time for each era But damn, that really ain t much Actually, it s even worse than that Those first nine chapters Two are on ancient Egypt One is on the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage One is on the Roman Empire in Africa One is on Christianity and another is on Islam Sure, those are all worthwhile items to talk about but that means you only have three chapters on all the rest of the continent over the first 4,500 years the book s title claims to cover And even in those three chapters, two are about trade with the outside world You basically get just one chapter on sub Saharan African until the Portuguese show up That chapter is 5 pages long Then, once the Europeans do show up, the focus of the book is on European activity in Africa Out of 675 pages of text, nearly 300 are on the 19th century and the focus is on Europeans dividing it up Again, this SHOULD be an important topic and should be a key theme But there is a distressing trend here Africans rarely are actors in a story on Africa They arethe passive objects in a story of other people s actions And when we do get stories of Africans, it s rarely of black Africans While sources are a problem in African history, it is possible to tell something of the story Books like Africa in World History by Erik Gilbert and Jonathan T Reynolds, or History of Africa by Kevin Shellington give you LOTSinsight on what was going on across the continent during all phases of its history Well, those are textbooks Maybe it isn t fair to compare a pop history like Meredith to the authors of actual college level textbooks on Africa You know what, though It IS fair It is completely fair Because when Meredith attempts to write a book on the entire history of Africa, that s the competition he s setting out for himself And he fails What s weird is how little time he spends on modern Africa After spending a huge amount of time on the conquest of Africa, he spends about 35 pages on the colonies from 1900ish to WWII, then about 65 pages on the end of white rule in Africa, and a final section of about 85 pages on Africa since independence It s odd that a history book spendstime on the 1800 1899 then on 1900 onward, but that s the case here It s especially odd because Meredith has written an entire book on post independence Africa, but here he just glosses over it I guess he didn t want to repeat himself too much I can respect that, but it adds to the overall effect of marginalizing black Africans in a book on the history of Africa There is one spot of Africa that Meredith does seem to have quite a bit of knowledge one area that hethan just a pop history But, unfortunately, his knowledge of that country just further amplifies the problems with this book He really knows his history of South Africa I already noted that I read and loved his In the Name of Apartheid Well, he s also written several other books on that country, too It s his specialty Sure enough, you geton that place than any other part of the book About 12 13 chapters focus just on South Africa Chapters 22 25, 34 38, 49, 51, 56, and most of 64 While he does a solid job there, it s also the country where whites have had the most inroads and impact So that just adds to the overall problem I have with the book.I don t mean to imply that a writer should ignore the impact of whites or Arabs or any others from the history of Africa That impact is huge and not including it would be a terrible oversight I m well aware that that Africa isthan just sub Saharan blacks But in a book that purports to be a history of the entire continent of Africa, there is far too much focus on Europeans


  3. Domhnall Domhnall says:

    We can be confident that the Garden of Eden was in Southern Iraq and not in Africa, but we also know that there have always been people in Africa and throughout recorded history it seems they have traded in slaves, gold and ivory with the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea Black Africans have typically been represented as mysterious people without a history of their own Now we have this superb, single volume history of Africa, providing the raw material to investigate a thousand interesti We can be confident that the Garden of Eden was in Southern Iraq and not in Africa, but we also know that there have always been people in Africa and throughout recorded history it seems they have traded in slaves, gold and ivory with the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea Black Africans have typically been represented as mysterious people without a history of their own Now we have this superb, single volume history of Africa, providing the raw material to investigate a thousand interesting and important questions In order to cover so much ground, it is inevitably very concise and many major stories are compressed to a few pages, which can have the effect of making them a bit too simple and too definitive I would have liked another few hundred pages, to spend a bittime on description and explanation, and to includeanecdotes and human details As it stands, this history is terribly stark and pretty fearful The book brings its history up to 2014, and it had every prospect of an upbeat ending, with developments like majority rule in South Africa, the Arab Spring in the North, the spread of democracy, but sadly it also reports on the disappointing aftermath of those changes and the final pages seem close to despondent I can imagine a separate volume of essays to draw out some of the themes in this history and I can imagine heated debates as people use and interpret this history to suit conflicting value systems, because let s face it people will read the facts in a way that fits their prejudices and prior commitments Even so, I cannot imagine such debates ever being better informed orbalanced than now, having the benefit of such a lucid and comprehensive survey


  4. Justin Evans Justin Evans says:

    It s important that you realize one thing about this book it is a history of how the peoples and land of Africa have been exploited from Egypt to the present it not a history of Africa I d like to read Meredith do the latter, but this isn t it It s important to mention this because I can easily imagine someone criticizing this book for its focus on the various peoples who have done the exploiting, whether ancient Egyptian, Muslim, African or European There s a great deal less in here about It s important that you realize one thing about this book it is a history of how the peoples and land of Africa have been exploited from Egypt to the present it not a history of Africa I d like to read Meredith do the latter, but this isn t it It s important to mention this because I can easily imagine someone criticizing this book for its focus on the various peoples who have done the exploiting, whether ancient Egyptian, Muslim, African or European There s a great deal less in here about the good and great things that the various African peoples have done for themselves Also, he s writing about thousands of years of history of a place that isn t really coherent at all If you get nothing else out of this book, you ll get the huge differences between the regions of Africa That means he has to make some big generalizations, and they can probably be picked apart by specialists That s okay We need the specialists We also need the generalists With those caveat in mind, this is a glorious book Meredith writes well, the structure is intuitive i.e., though he jumps around in time and space, the jumps are never jarring, and are always signaled with section breaks etc I cannot explain how much I learned from this book And if you re concerned about political bias, which you should be in any book of this kind, know that Meredith is seriously biased against everyone A typical string of argument leads from, say, the horrors of the intra African slave trade, to the horrors of the slave trade to Europe, to the greater horrors of the trans Atlantic slave trade Here most accounts fall silent Meredith, instead, proceeds to discuss the ways that African leaders, from the earliest contacts with Muslim states through to the end of the American slave trade, used their people as a way to make wealth and consolidate their power Most slaves, in other words, were sold by Africans The trade only ended once the entire continent minus Abyssinia was colonized by European powers who opposed the slave trade Such is the history of the exploitation of Africa if you think something s getting better e.g., slave trade ends , rest assured that something else is getting much worse


  5. Alex O& Alex O& says:

    A very informative, expansive book However, I have to knock one if not two stars off because this book was also very disappointing I was hoping for a book on the Africans of Africa their politics, culture, and societies, especially before Europeans and after the Independence movement of the 1950 s Disappointingly, this book seemed to feature primarily a European outlook, with the Africans not as individual societies, cultures, and places but instead as a single large mass that was oppresse A very informative, expansive book However, I have to knock one if not two stars off because this book was also very disappointing I was hoping for a book on the Africans of Africa their politics, culture, and societies, especially before Europeans and after the Independence movement of the 1950 s Disappointingly, this book seemed to feature primarily a European outlook, with the Africans not as individual societies, cultures, and places but instead as a single large mass that was oppressed taken advantage of for quite some time While that is true, it still annoyed me that the author hardly touched on the cultures themselves Instead, we were given countless political debates in Britain and various other Western places on culture Like, very interesting, but I knew that already and have studied that There was also a big focus on South Africa, to the exclusion of other countries that I hadinterest in I have heard this authors other book, the Fate of Africa, is better, as it deals with Africa post independence, so I will probably give that one a shot In all, very informative and well written, just not really what I wanted to learn about the way the book marketed itself


  6. Ian Casey Ian Casey says:

    I hope one day to find a history book with a solid overview of the broad sweeps of African history across millenia, with a workable compromise between competing aspects such as the social, cultural, economic, theological and military Martin Meredith s The Fortunes of Africa goes some way to achieving it, but in all fairness is not trying to be that book for which I hope.This is a synthesis of other works that aimsat regurgitating information in piecemeal manner rather than offering any co I hope one day to find a history book with a solid overview of the broad sweeps of African history across millenia, with a workable compromise between competing aspects such as the social, cultural, economic, theological and military Martin Meredith s The Fortunes of Africa goes some way to achieving it, but in all fairness is not trying to be that book for which I hope.This is a synthesis of other works that aimsat regurgitating information in piecemeal manner rather than offering any cohesive or new insight, which is fair enough Its 71 chapters average 10 densely packed pages each, giving bite sized chunks of times and places without particular emphasis on broad trends interconnecting and contextualising them.Another book I read recently, Edwin Williamson s The Penguin History of Latin America 2nd ed covered a comparable scale and scope of history and did balance those aspects A clue is in the full title, though, that Meredith has a different focus The Fortunes of Africa A 5,000 Year History of Wealth, Greed and Endeavour lends itself to a Euro centric workabout what was done to Africa than one truly about the Africans themselves.Hence this places the book in largely the same territory as others such as Empires in the Sun, The Looting Machine and The Scramble for Africa As others have alluded to, it s alsolike a history of five hundred ish years than five thousand A handful of early chapters gloss over ancient Egypt, Carthage and Rome, which is understandable given that those are massive subjects on their own.However,than a handful of pages about what was happening in the rest of Africa in those millennia would have been welcome I understand sources may be severely limited, but surelycould have been offered in the way of summarising anthropogical and archeological evidence, at least to the extent of pointing in the direction of further reading Again, Williamson tackled this well with his genuine attempt to explain what little was known about the ancient South and Central Americans.I m often dubious about statements in this book, which have the sound of being regurgitated from the source usually something like a journal or letter from a European without any critical enquiry as to their truthfulness To the extent that Meredith talks about African cultures and customs, he frequently emphasises violent traditions of executions, ritual sacrifice and cannibalism, again without any discussion as to their veracity The phrasing is usually such that he appears to be stating these as facts rather than recountings of limited European perspectives, and little effort is made to consider cultures in a holistic manner.In a work of this length, the writer s tics often reveal themselves and Meredith has a few He s partial to saying month after month or year after year , which feels lazy compared to aspecific phrasing on the timing of events.He s also awfully fond of the word acephalous Literally it can be taken to mean without a chief , though I have trouble believing large parts of Africa were without chiefs at all at various times Hence, within context, I presume he meansdecentralised government wherein local chiefs perhaps even as low as the village level had little involvement with or fealty to an overarching power I should be curious to know what the accepted usage of the term is among historians and anthropologists.If nothing else, the bibliography and chapter notes open up a wealth of hundreds of suggestions for further reading, so that in itself is a resource In total though, I found the book disappointing and feel that another author could tackle a general history of the continent in quite a different way


  7. Randall Wallace Randall Wallace says:

    Africa is larger in size than the US, China, India, Japan and most of Europe combined At 700 pages, this one volume history of Africa is no short book, but it s subject is vast Africa s early history is of warring kingdoms with two trades slavery and ivory Know that ivory was the plastic of it s era Sadly, those trying to stop the slave trade had to travel with members of the ivory trade those trying to stop ivory poaching travelled with slavers If you could go back in time anywhere in Af Africa is larger in size than the US, China, India, Japan and most of Europe combined At 700 pages, this one volume history of Africa is no short book, but it s subject is vast Africa s early history is of warring kingdoms with two trades slavery and ivory Know that ivory was the plastic of it s era Sadly, those trying to stop the slave trade had to travel with members of the ivory trade those trying to stop ivory poaching travelled with slavers If you could go back in time anywhere in Africa, good luck choosing a safe time or location to visit use of force rather than cooperation has been the standard for rulers there for most of its recorded history Forced to choose in this book, I d go for Alexandria during Ptolemy I or Timbuktu during the pre Moroccan Sudanese Songhay rule Meredith does not attempt to portray Africa aside from Egypt before colonization so it s hard to know how much of the control through violence was taught by European invaders and how much was indigenous to African culture But when the Europeans were done, some 10,000 kingdoms had been shoehorned into 58 African states, many filled with seething ethic tensions encouraged by prior occupiers Britain forced the occupants of two of its protectorates together in 1914, to create Nigeria with its 300 languages so its not surprising that Nigeria and other countries forced by Britain like Iraq have such fractious problems today This book also confirms the violent steal the land and move the people technique the Europeans perfected in Africa discussed in depth in the outstanding Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz s An Indigenous People s History and Sven Lindqvist s Terra Nullius and Exterminate All the Brutes British intent through Shepstone s 1877 dispatches was clear civilization wasn t benign native hope had to be destroyed in order to make it submit to the rule of civilization The British develop their template for indirect rule in Buganda Uganda and they then sold this form of rule throughout the globe The Germans, not to be outdone by Belgium and Britain, exterminated the Herero People in 1904 with lovely cleansing patrols The German pre holocaust notion was that such peoples respond only to force and in fact their leader General Trotha wrote that he wanted a campaign of absolute terrorism and even cruelty Charming Time and time again, Western Civilization causesproblems that it purports to solve for those occupied or under it s will Fun harmless facts learned Khufu s Great Pyramid was the tallest building in the world for 38 centuries Geometry comes from Euclid in Alexandria, home of the great library, as does the Archimedes s screw Finally I learned why Bob Marley talked about Abyssinia It was Africa s sole connection to Christianity when Islam took over elsewhere and it was hard to invade and so left alone It s leaders declared they were the King of Zion to the sound of trumpets and drums hundreds of years before Ziggy Marley was a zygote Haile Selassie s title was Ras Tafari so there you go Rastafarian, man Great book


  8. Sunkaru Sunkaru says:

    In about 700 pages, The Fortunes of Africa is a well written narrative of African history It describes in good detail a lot of events that occurred over a span of 5 millennia and provides the reader with a good context within which to situate the current state of affairs on the continent.I found the material well referenced and as an African I learnt many things about our history that I didn t know prior to reading this book The book provides an impressive breath of historical narrative at t In about 700 pages, The Fortunes of Africa is a well written narrative of African history It describes in good detail a lot of events that occurred over a span of 5 millennia and provides the reader with a good context within which to situate the current state of affairs on the continent.I found the material well referenced and as an African I learnt many things about our history that I didn t know prior to reading this book The book provides an impressive breath of historical narrative at the expense depth I thought that the author skimmed over the details of many historic events, understandably so as that would be unachievable in one book For this reason, I consider this work an abstract of the history of Africa that will motivate an interested reader to delveinto the history of this fascinating continent


  9. Jennifer Jennifer says:

    This is a meaty and fascinating overview of Africa s history, from the earliest civilizations to the aftermath of colonization The problem of any overview, of course, is that there are always parts that I d want to readabout, but given my meager knowledge about the history of Africa, this was a great place to start It s a reminder of how rich and complex Africa s many societies are, and that there is hope for the future of the continent despite the horrific suffering of the past and some This is a meaty and fascinating overview of Africa s history, from the earliest civilizations to the aftermath of colonization The problem of any overview, of course, is that there are always parts that I d want to readabout, but given my meager knowledge about the history of Africa, this was a great place to start It s a reminder of how rich and complex Africa s many societies are, and that there is hope for the future of the continent despite the horrific suffering of the past and sometimes the present


  10. Sue Flynn Sue Flynn says:

    I found this to be a very interesting and fascinating history of Africa I learned a lot about the various countries that were involved in trying to control the various tribes If one reads this book it will help you to understand the plight and frustration of all the peoples of Africa and why it bleeds out into the rest of the world For a people to always be treated as subservient and never given an opportunity to either continue with their religions and traditions it makes sense why there is I found this to be a very interesting and fascinating history of Africa I learned a lot about the various countries that were involved in trying to control the various tribes If one reads this book it will help you to understand the plight and frustration of all the peoples of Africa and why it bleeds out into the rest of the world For a people to always be treated as subservient and never given an opportunity to either continue with their religions and traditions it makes sense why there is so much anger in Africa As a reader you become aware of the incredible amount of slave trade that was going on between all sides This includes both white and colored I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand not just Africa but all the other countries that were involved in the history of this continent


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *