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Description - The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham

In 1880 the continent of Africa was largely unexplored by Europeans. Less than thirty years later, only Liberia and Ethiopia remained unconquered by them. The rest - 10 million square miles with 110 million bewildered new subjects - had been carved up by five European powers (and one extraordinary individual) in the name of Commerce, Christianity, 'Civilization' and Conquest. The Scramble for Africa is the first full-scale study of that extraordinary episode in history.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349104492
ISBN-10: 0349104492
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 131mm x 52mm)
Pages: 768
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 26-Nov-1992
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham

UK Kirkus Review » Thomas Pakenham wrote what remains the best single book on the Boer War. In The Scramble for Africa he sets out to explore just why and how in a few short years from 1880 various European powers carved up the African continent. The European colonial take-over was ostensibly the product of a crusading zeal to free Africa from slavery and backwardness by way of Livingstone's 3 Cs - Commerce, Christianity and Civilization. The book does not suffer from being avowedly Eurocentric, but its chief virtue is dealing with a fascinating story of enormous complexity with absolute precision and clarity. Pakenham shows how this all became an exercise in the coercion and military conquest of the African peoples. This is like exploring history in a Rolls Royce. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Like our own century's headlong rush to own the Bomb, European powers in the late-19th century raced to acquire colonies in Africa. Now, in a comprehensive and certain-to-be-standard account of this "scramble," Pakenham (The Boer War, 1979) describes the motives and methods of what Bismarck called "the colonial whirl." For Pakenham, the "scramble" began with the death of David Livingstone, the great missionary and explorer. Horrified by the new slave trade, organized by the Arabs and their African allies, that was destroying the heart of his beloved continent, the dying Livingstone pleaded for the three "Cs" - Commerce, Christianity, and Civilization - to join in a worldwide crusade to root out the evil. But a fourth "C" - Conquest - was added, and though the original ideals were never lost, they were often secondary to realpolitik and greed. Villains, heroes, rogues - each responded to the call in his own fashion, but "all conceived of it in terms of romantic nationalism." There was Stanley, the consummate self-promoter; King Leopold II of Belgium, who made the Congo his personal fief; the idiosyncratic General Gordon, sacrificed to the Mahdi; and a large cast of other luminaries. In alternating chapters, Pakenham describes the individual European powers' ventures and misadventures in a continent that, in reality, was incapable of ever fulfilling their grandiose expectations. Indeed, no one except the wily Leopold, who stashed his gains in a hidden bank account, really came out ahead. And what of the Africans themselves, who were to be saved by the three Cs? Pakenham's answer is unfashionably Panglossian: Europe gave a continent in thrall to slave traders and despots "the aspirations for freedom and human dignity, the humanitarian ideals of Livingstone, even if Europe was seldom able to live up to them." More anecdotal than analytical, but a spirited and intelligent history of one of the moat seminal events in Africa, whose legacy is not yet spent. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Thomas Pakenham

Thomas Pakenham is the author of THE MOUNTAINS OF RASSELAS, THE YEAR OF LIBERTY and THE BOER WAR. He divides his time between a terraced house I nnNorth Kensington, London and a crumbling castle in Ireland. He is married to the writer Valerie Pakenham and they have four children.

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