Books on the History of Africa

966. Books on the history of Africa

Further Reading:

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West Africa and offshore islands

Wayetu Moore The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir, 2020.

When she was a five-year-old in Monrovia, Liberia, Wayetu Moore missed her mother, who was away, working and studying in New York. When civil war broke out in her country, she was forced to flee her home on foot with her father and grandmother. After an arduous journey, they wind up in Texas, where she struggled to fit in as a Black female immigrant. In this memoir, she tells how she eventually returned to Liberia, the home she had lost.

967. Central Africa and offshore islands

Howard W. French A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa, 2005.

Journalist Howard French covers African war and genocides from a first-hand witness, including the fall of Mobuto Sese Seko and the genocides of Rwanda and the Congo. While looking at the legacy of colonialism, he also scrutinizes the role of post-colonial African and Western political leaders in the debacles.

David Lamb The Africans, 1987.

Correspondent David Lamb spent four years in the 1980s in sub-Saharan Africa, crisscrossing the continent and visiting almost every country. He tells the history of the entire region, but he concentrates on the people he meets. Everyone from presidents to witch doctors has a fascinating story to tell.

Aidan Hartley The Zanzibar Chest: A Story of Life, Love, and Death in Foreign Lands, 2004.

Aidan Hartley writes about the colonialization of Africa from the viewpoints of his forebears and his own experiences as a journalist covering Africa in the explosive 1990s. When he finds a Zanzibar chest that his father had left him, he discovers the diaries of his father’s deceased friend, Peter Davey, who reveals and unravels disturbing secrets about his own family.

Mark Bowden Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, 1999.

In 1993, a hundred U.S. soldiers were dropped by helicopter into the Somalian capital, Mogadishu, with instructions to capture two of a Somali warlord’s top lieutenants. They estimated the objective would take an hour, but thousands of Somalis first attacked and then trapped them. By the next day, eighteen soldiers were dead, and seventy were injured. Mark Bowden tells the story.

968. South Africa & Southern Africa

Peter Godwin When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa, 2007.

Peter Godwin tells of his family history in Zimbabwe. While visiting his elderly parents after moving to Manhattan, he watched as Zimbabwe descended into chaos. But his parents refused to leave, no matter how hard he tried to get them to. Then Godwin learns a shocking secret about his father, that he had another identity and was using Zimbabwe as a sanctuary. Both his family and the country fall apart at nearly the same time.

Candice Millard Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill, 2016.

When Winston Churchill suffered an election defeat at age 24, he decided that glory in battle was the way to power. After fighting and working as a journalist in India, Sudan, and Cuba, he went to South Africa to cover the Boer Wars. After enemy forces captured him, he escaped and traveled over a hundred miles through enemy territory to freedom alone. He later went back to liberate his fellow prisoners.

For more information on the Further Reading section, see “Further Reading: Start Here.”

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