Africa: A Biography of the Continent

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9780679409793: Africa: A Biography of the Continent
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From the primeval cataclysms that formed the continent to the civil wars and genocide that ravage it today--a work of startling grandeur and scope that provides a remarkable panoramic history of Africa, by a deeply intelligent writer who has spent most of his adult life there.

We all originated in Africa, and no matter what our race, our most ancient relationship is with that continent. Reader tells the story of our earliest ancestors' adaptation to Africa's ferocious obstacles of jungle, river, and desert, and of how its unique array of animals, plants, viruses, and parasites has over millions of years helped and hindered human progress to a degree unknown anywhere else on Earth.

Illustrated with many of the author's own beautiful photographs, which capture the staggering diversity of human experience in every part of the continent--from the inland estuaries of the Niger and the rain forests of the Equator, to the deserts of the north and the high veld of the south--this book weaves together into a richly fluent narrative the rise and fall of ancient civilizations, the changing patterns of indigenous life over the millennia, the complex history of slavery, the devastating impact of European settlers, and the fragile reemergence of independent nations. John Reader has given us an extraordinary biography of an infinitely fascinating continent.

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Review:

"The ancestors of all humanity evolved in Africa," notes photojournalist John Reader at the beginning of this epic, panoramic overview of African history. From the formation of the continent to the present, Reader's informative narrative tells the story of the earliest dwellers and the natural obstacles of desert, jungle, and animals they faced, expertly entwining the development of humanity with the ecological and geographical evolution of the continent. He demonstrates how the physical makeup of Africa is like nowhere else on earth, both supporting and crippling human progress over time. Reader, who has lived and traveled in Africa for many years, explores the migration of humanity as early as 100,000 years ago out of Africa into Europe and South America, forming the earliest indigenous populations in these areas. At the same time he traces the effects of European settlers, slavery, and tribal warfare to the present day's independent states that have suffered through chronic disease, famine, and brutal conflict. Reader's passion for this continent is evident throughout the text, bringing to life his scrupulous research which explores in fascinating detail, the intricate and complex history of Africa. --Jeremy Storey

From the Back Cover:

Praise from England for Africa: A Biography of the Continent

"An absorbing safari into the soul of a continent."
--Time

"This is geography, history, anthropology, and ecology on a grand scale, and Reader has digested hundreds of books and gathered their contents into a rich, coherent, and highly readable account of Africa."
--Literary Review

"Remarkable . . . elegant . . . A highly readable 'handbook' to humanity in Africa . . . with a courageously wide reach."
--The Guardian
Missing Links: The Hunt for Earliest Man

"Reader has that rare combination, a seeing eye and a speaking pen, which makes his book a joy to read and to behold. The author's original photographs are beautiful."
--The Times
Man on Earth

"A triumph of a book, a celebration of human nature . . . This is a timely book which must be read by all thinking people before it is too late . . . Here is a text full of fabulous facts, with crucial statistics woven into an evolving story which keeps you turning the pages . . . A vibrant history not of the nations of the Earth but of the 5 billion-plus people now on Earth.
--Times Educational Supplement

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