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. (Dec.)
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.