This book further highlights the brilliance of W.E.B. DuBois. He masterfully articulates the contributions of Africa to the world, contributions that most people are not aware of. This is not the type of book that some people might classify as just another attempt to put a black face on history. To think that is not to know Dr. Dubois. This book is scholarship.
DuBois was the first African-American to receive a PhD. from Harvard University. His other education came from some of the best schools in the United States and Europe. His methods of research were more of a scientist than a historian or surveyor. It was through his meticulous methodolory that we have much of what we now call sociology. (His dissertation was entitled "The Suppression of the African Slave Trade", also in print.)Being of mixed heritage, DuBois experienced privilege and discrimination, all making him very critical of oppression and racism.
This book takes the reader back to some of the first encounters between Africa and Europe, highlighting many consequences of those encounters. He looked at the beginnings of civilization (in Ethiopia and the along the Nile Valley) and the inner workings of the slave trade. Kusha and Nubia are given a place in world history, as well as the kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhai.
As a sociologist, DuBois laid out the results of free labor and the products that gave wealth to Europe and America. One chapter is entitled "The Rape of Africa", where he looked at the resources that were taken from Africa like labor and diamonds among other things. You even get a look at the Pan-African Movement, the need to bring Africans in the Diaspora together for a common cause. You actually begin to see how DuBois and Booker T. Washington clashed on isssues and how DuBois starts to pick up some of the ideas of nationalist Marcus Garvey. There is a statement he makes on p. 310 ending an address to the people of Ghana on the future of Africa in 1958 at age 90 where he says, " You have nothing to lose but your chains! You have a continent to regain! You have freedom and human dignity to attain!" Quite different from the integrationist that history so vividly spotlights.
I personally found the end of the book most interesting. DuBois wrote of the effects of capitalism on the world. His analysis brought forth the idea that the desire for personal gain justified the treatment of others that were differents. There are copies of speeches that he gave while in his 90's, still showing his intellectual prowess and his disdain for the conditions that effected African-Americans and the African continent (this is during the 1960s). He spoke to the importance of having an independent African continent and relationships with China and the Soviet Union.
I'm glad that these parts are at the end because DuBois' communist reputation would taint the brilliance of the book. The end is were it becomes evident that he has socialist views. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to make some real connections between some of the world's current situations and the past. Dr. DuBois gives us insight on World Wars I and II, the beginnings of the Pan-African Movement (and if you read between the lines, he plants some seeds of the Niagra Movement and the NAACP) and African Independence Movement of the 1960's (led by Kwame Nkrumah).
The closest we have seen to this type of critial thinking and reflection on European dominance of the world is Dr. Cornel West. WEB DuBois is one of greatest minds the United States has produced, in the catagory of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Yet he will never get his just due because he was a registered Communist and America has no sympathy for Communists.