Imatge de l'autor

Thomas Pakenham

Autor/a de The Scramble for Africa: 1876–1912

14+ obres 3,944 Membres 48 Ressenyes 3 preferits

Sobre l'autor

Thomas Pakenham's Remarkable Trees of the World received international acclaim

Obres de Thomas Pakenham

Obres associades

Heritage Trees of Ireland (2014) — Pròleg — 2 exemplars


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An interesting book about a curious region of the world...Ethiopia and specifically the mountains of Rasselas. Some really strange stuff here. Churches carved out of solid rock...down from the surface. Rumours of the arc of the covenant being kept here. Coleridge's poem Xanadu refers to an Abyssinian maid (originally on Mt Abora but he change the words). And a bunch of princes kept on a spire of rock (apparently about 80 x 40 m with 1000 steps to get up or down. They only came off the rock if they became king. (and obviously, not everyone was going to be king. So what a way to go. There seemed to be a lot of these monasteries in the sky on high "mesas". Anyway, a strange book ..very autobiographical -travel in orientation. I give it two stars.… (més)
booktsunami | Jan 17, 2024 |
This book is demanding of the reader. It is long. It weighs over 3 pounds. The maps are barely adequate. And Hopkins says Packenham adds nothing new and omits most of the historical scholarship on Africa since 1912. If I recall, he says it is history from the records of the plunderers and blunderers.
But it is a very good read. And, as you read, you have a reference point for the unending, awful events across Africa – and other accounts you may care to look into.
mnicol | Hi ha 20 ressenyes més | Oct 28, 2023 |
This classic recounts the European rush for power in Africa, which took place over a remarkably short period of time. It is a highly detailed account of European actions in Africa and of the European politics around the rush. This creates a point of view that is strongly European. That has a lot to do with the passing of time, and a lot (I would assume) about the paucity of African source material. The book is a tough read -- the amount of detail can be overwhelming -- but well worth while.
annbury | Hi ha 20 ressenyes més | Mar 1, 2023 |
The depth and breadth of research in this book is astounding, and Pakenham deserves credit for his ability as a historian. The fact that this book took 10 years to write really does come through.

I give it 3 stars because of the approach and methodology and how these meshed with my expectations.

The book is written almost entirely from the European perspective, with primarily European archival material. The politics and personalities of European courtrooms and chambers are the bulk of the narrative (along with the exploits of European explorers), with literally hundreds of Great Man characters interacting in a complex web of intrigue. Certain accounts, like that of Livingstone, read like hagiographies. Certain parts of the book read like a drama novel. Africans, for the most part, appear in only a handful of capacities: as rulers making deals with Europeans; as auxiliary soldiers helping Europeans; as slaves that need to be freed by Europeans; or as forced labourers being used by Europeans, Arabs, or other Africans. Women and children only appear as refugees, captives, and child-brides. African culture never appears, apart from the grim pagan rituals that Pakenham sometimes describes.

Atrocities, thankfully, are not glossed over. In fact, they're typically described in gruesome detail. Yet they do not seem to condemn imperialism to Pakenham. In his own words, "Europe has given Africa the aspirations for freedom and human dignity ... even if Europe itself was seldom able to live up to them." When atrocities do occur, the only push-back seems to be the politicking of other Europeans.

The social, cultural, political, economic, etc. upheavals brought about by the Scramble do not fit into the scope of this book, which came as a disappointment to me. Neither, however, do the pre-colonial structures of Africa. Though there is frequent mention of chiefs, kabakas, sultans, and vassals, the precise political structures are rarely adequately described. Furthermore, resistances and uprisings are not discussed in a particularly great depth. It is not a flaw for a book to have a certain scope, of course, but omitting these things contributes to the book's strongly European outlook. The impression one gets is of Africa as a pawn of European politics - certainly accurate from the European perspective, but unsatisfactory and simplistic from the African one.

My gripes aside, I do think this is a good book to read on the topic, though perhaps not for the casual reader. It is a dense slog of material at over 700 pages which, understandably, will likely put many people off. If that isn't a problem for you, you'll certainly find the book interesting and even immersive.
… (més)
woj2000 | Hi ha 20 ressenyes més | Mar 24, 2022 |



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