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The Scramble For Africa [Paperback]

T Pakenham
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1 1992

White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent
from 1876 to 1912


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In scarcely half a generation during the late 1800s, six European powers sliced up Africa like a cake. The pieces went to Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Belgium; among them, they acquired 30 new colonies and 110 million subjects. Although African rulers resisted, many battles were one-sided massacres. In 1904 the Hereros, a tribe of southwest southwest, if not a country name Africa, revolted against German rule. Their punishment was genocide--24,000 driven into the desert to starve; those who surrendered were sent to forced labor camps to be worked to death. In a dramatic, gripping chronicle, Pakenham ( The Boer War ) floodlights the "dark continent" and its systematic rape by Europe. At center stage are a motley band of explorers, politicians, evangelists, mercenaries, journalists and tycoons blinded by romantic nationalism or caught up in the scramble for loot, markets and slaves. In an epilogue Pakenham tells how the former colonial powers still dominate the economies of the African nations, most of which are under one-party or dictatorial rule. Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In his excellent study of the Boer War ( The Boer War , LJ 11/1/79), Pakenham demonstrated his ability to handle a great mass of material and a complicated subject in a fashion that produces a readable, highly credible account. Here he turns those same skills to good effect in the infinitely more complex issue of the European exploitation of Africa, which followed close on the heels of exploration of the so-called "dark continent's" interior. The result is a sweeping narrative, refreshingly old fashioned in its appreciation of the fact that imperialism did have some virtues, which offers as good an introduction to the "scramble" as has ever been written. Essential for both public and academic libraries.
- Jim Casada, Winthrop Coll., Rock Hill, S.C.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Complex Tragedy July 21 2003
Format:Paperback
'We are now very sorry indeed, particularly in the killing and eating of the parts of its employees.' - King Koko and chiefs of the Brassmen to the Prince of Wales, 1895
Humanity laid bare. Pakenham tells us the story of two worlds in collision, the story of ourselves, treachery and slaughter, exploitation, slavery, and cannibalism, vanity and greed, and, of course, unfaithful wives. Kings, bureaucrats, missionaries, humanitarians, merchants, and soldiers populate his tale, sometimes far too many to keep track of. Pages flash by in an instant as the anxious reader awaits the inevitable. This book rivals any work of fiction, and Pakenham writes it with a great wit and enormous skill. Most importantly, he leaves moralistic preaching behind and focuses on the story, albeit with a special taste for its ironies and tragedies. Unfortunately, the reader will have to look elsewhere for a history of Africa and its indigenous peoples. Pakenham crams so much information in that the background story can't possibly fit.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating account May 11 2001
Format:Paperback
Thomas Pakenham's sprawling story of the slicing up of a continent by European powers is fascinating, well-written, well worth your time. It's interesting that surprisingly little of the colonization of Africa between 1876 and 1912 came by direct military conquest. No, England, France and Germany (principally) sank their teeth into the continent mostly in less direct ways that were just as dismaying. "The Scramble for Africa" presents a panorama of villains and heroes, both white and black, but paints it with sufficient shades of gray. Much of what happens is despicable to us today, but Pakenham helps us understand the whys. The book is not perfect. For American eyes, Pakenham assumes too much knowledge of British history and its political system. There are a lot of names to keep track of, and there is an occasional lack of clarity as to what precisely is going on. Pakenham also has a curious habit of not always making clear who is being quoted. Still, this is a strong, well-written, fascinating account of a strange, exciting period in world history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Africa, Strangled at Birth Sept. 22 2000
Format:Paperback
When I study an atlas and look at the borders of any European Country, I see few straight lines. When I turn to the page on Africa, there are many straight lines. The story behind these lines is one of greed, cruelty, heroism, misguided pride and sadness.
Thomas Pakenham has written more than a book. He has written a history lesson. I came away from this beginning to know and understand present day problems in Africa - by looking at the universal starting point for society's problems, history.
All the major players are here. France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Arabia and last, but not least, my own country - Great Britain.
The colonial cake was originally fought over the Far East, The Americas, The Indian Subcontinent - until the European, a little late (1870), and, reluctantly at first, found the great prize of Africa.
Gold, Diamonds, Game, Land, Copper...
Then the scramble, the squabling, the division.
An adventure built on the heroics of early explorers ended up in tears.. on all sides. George Pakenham tells you how, in a sweeping, impartial account. He lets the reader decide.
I guarantee that if you read this book, your views on Africa will be changed for ever.
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4.0 out of 5 stars History of Victorian Africa Exploration March 21 1997
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"Scramble for Africa" is a military and diplomatic history of Victorian African exploration.

As a whole, the book is very good. The events are presented in a chronological order, cutting back and forth between the actions and maneuvers of the Great (Britain, France, and Germany) and Minor Powers (primarily Belgium) in different parts of the continent. One very import item making this book so informative is the use of maps. Parkenham has included enough maps to place all the actions. Frequently, histories need a period atlas in hand for reference. This one doesn't.

"Scramble" is about politicians, soldiers, merchants, missionaries, and explorers. Readers interested in the personalities (King Leopold of Begium, Gladstone, Livingston, Ali Pasha, etc.) who shaped the events in the European conquest of Africa and the early Imperialist era will get the most from the book. I personally found King Leopold to be like a spider in the web as he plotted to found the Belgian Congo. In general, Britains and Anglo-Saxons come out rather well in this history and Europeans and Middle Easterners less well.

If I can find fault in "Scramble" its because it is too Anglo-centric. The British historical contribution to the period and events is very detailed. The French less so. The Portogeuse, Spanish, and Italian is almost absent or incidental. For example, British Imperial expeditions are described right down to the participating units (Guards Grenadiers, etc.); while French expeditionary missions described confuse Colonial Marines with Legion units.

Even though this is a military and diplomatic history, the economic aspect of the story is missing. The search for gold I can understand.
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5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXCELLENT ROAD MAP Sept. 27 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The axiom, you can know a little about a lot or a lot about a little, illustrates the problem of generalized histories. This book takes a big bite and is thus limited in how much it tells about any given event or personality. Given this fact it still manages to deliver an extraordinary amount of information to the reader. At the same time, if you want a large road map, this book fulfills that mandate splendidly. One of the Amazon reviews apparently thought the book had a British bias. Perhaps, but then England was a major player in the scramble for Africa. To be fair, the book spends much time on Bismark (German), and King Leopold (Belgium) as well as various African rulers and explorers. The book is about remarkable personalities woven into a tapestry that depicts the acculturation process of two civilizations, at very different levels of achievement, bumping into each other. Africa has yet to recover from this epic collision. An excellent book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book
I have not read it all but when I do pick it up it is very hard to put down. This is a subject that most Americans know little about. I consider this 'good history'. Read more
Published on Dec 12 2003 by Frank S. Kalich
5.0 out of 5 stars History book that reads like a novel
What a great book, I learned so much about how Africa was shaped through this book, and Packenhams style is so engaging to me that this book reads like a novel. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2002 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Deceiving
If you believe Britain made what Africa is today than this is the book for you. Pakenham portrays the scramble for Africa as a two-player game between Britain and France, with... Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2002 by Roberto Munguambe
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Account of The Scramble
Africa--except for South Africa and Egypt--weren't the prizes that India was. The Great Game involved much more attention. Read more
Published on Dec 7 2001 by John
5.0 out of 5 stars He's Scooped The Pool!
Nineteenth century Europe was stunned when that brash American journalist-cum-conquistador Henry Stanley captured the much-coveted Pool (to be named Stanley Pool) at the foot of... Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2001 by Matherson
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your time
The Scamble for Africa is an excellant book, going deep into the colonization of Africa by the white man and the crimes against humanity which they commited. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read-- informative and inclusive
I just finished this 700-page history of colonialism in Africa. It was precisely what I was looking for-- a look at colonialism in Africa; who did it, where, why, and for how... Read more
Published on Aug. 13 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars A compellingly well-written, deeply erudite book.
I knew little of African history before reading it. Having just finished it, I feel like I know so much more, and yet so much less - just what a good history is supposed to do. Read more
Published on July 26 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I found this to be a fascinating and readable account of how European countries descended upon the African continent at the same time and proceeded colonize it. Read more
Published on Oct. 6 1998
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