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Two thousand years ago, the island of Madagascar was likely uninhabited. Its unique flora and fauna had gone totally undisturbed by human contact until the first navigators landed on its shores. No one knows where those first inhabitants hailed from, but over the centuries Madagascar developed its own distinctive language and cultural systems. The only recent history of its kind in English, Madagascar, traces two millennia of human activity in one of the world’s most fascinating, yet least-known, societies. In graceful prose, Solofo Randrianja and Stephen Ellis, both leading historians of Madagascar, elucidate the three main phases of its history: the earliest settlements, the age of kingdoms, and the island’s entry into intercontinental systems of commerce and exchange, including over sixty years under French rule. Through the course of this colorful and turbulent history, Randrianja and Ellis explore the tensions between the development of a unique culture and the absorption of immigrants, the development of strong social hierarchies, and the long-lasting effects of slavery and the slave trade.
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Solofo Randrianja is professor of history at the University of Toamasina, Madagascar, and the author of several books.Stephen Ellis is main researcher in the History Department at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands.Review:
"This is an excellent general history of Madagascar. It is an enjoyable, erudite, and excellent study of the world's most fascinating and enigmatic island." (Luke Freeman, London School of Economics)
"Stephen Ellis and Solofo Randrianja have spent a lifetime studying Madagascar and have written a definitive history. Authoritative and readable, this book is the perfect introduction for those who know little about this vast island and, for those who do, they challenge the accepted versions of its past." (Richard Dowden, director of the Royal Africa Society)
"This 'short' history of Madagascar by Randrianja and Ellis is nonetheless long on information, insight, and scholarship. The authors, who have clearly mastered all of the relevant literature, have woven together a highly readable and interesting text on this still relatively obscure and liminal island nation." (Choice)
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