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African History

African History Book List

Cover of 'Diamonds in the Rough'

Diamonds in the Rough
Corporate Paternalism and African Professionalism on the Mines of Colonial Angola, 1917–1975
By Todd Cleveland

Diamonds in the Rough explores the lives of African laborers on Angola’s diamond mines from the commencement of operations in 1917 to the colony’s independence from Portugal in 1975. The mines were owned and operated by the Diamond Company of Angola, or Diamang, which enjoyed exclusive mining and labor concessions granted by the colonial government. Through these monopolies, the company became the most profitable enterprise in Portugal’s African empire.

Cover of 'The Historical Ecology of Malaria in Ethiopia'

The Historical Ecology of Malaria in Ethiopia
Deposing the Spirits
By James C. McCann

Malaria is an infectious disease like no other: it is a dynamic force of nature and Africa’s most deadly and debilitating malady. James C. McCann tells the story of malaria in human, narrative terms and explains the history and ecology of the disease through the science of landscape change. All malaria is local.

Cover of 'The Boy Is Gone'

The Boy Is Gone
Conversations with a Mau Mau General
By Laura Lee P. Huttenbach

A story with the power to change how people view the last years of colonialism in East Africa, The Boy Is Gone portrays the struggle for Kenyan independence in the words of a freedom fighter whose life spanned the twentieth century's most dramatic transformations. Born into an impoverished farm family in the Meru Highlands, Japhlet Thambu grew up wearing goatskins and lived to stand before his community dressed for business in a pressed suit, crisp tie, and freshly polished shoes.

Winner of the 2016 Alf Andrew Heggoy Book Prize, given by the French Colonial History Society
Cover of 'States of Marriage'

States of Marriage
Gender, Justice, and Rights in Colonial Mali
By Emily S. Burrill

States of Marriage shows how throughout the colonial period in French Sudan (present-day Mali) the institution of marriage played a central role in how the empire defined its colonial subjects as gendered persons with certain attendant rights and privileges. The book is a modern history of the ideological debates surrounding the meaning of marriage, as well as the associated legal and sociopolitical practices in colonial and postcolonial Mali.

Cover of 'African Leaders of the Twentieth Century'

African Leaders of the Twentieth Century
Biko, Selassie, Lumumba, Sankara
By Lindy Wilson, Bereket Habte Selassie, Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, and Ernest Harsch

This omnibus edition brings together concise and up-to-date biographies of Steve Biko, Emperor Haile Selassie, Patrice Lumumba, and Thomas Sankara. African Leaders of the Twentieth Century will complement courses in history and political science and serve as a useful collection for the general reader. Steve Biko, by Lindy Wilson Steve Biko inspired a generation of black South Africans to claim their true identity and refuse to be a part of their own oppression.

Cover of 'The ANC Women’s League'

The ANC Women’s League
Sex, Gender and Politics
By Shireen Hassim

First formed in the early twentieth century, the ANC Women’s League has grown into a leading organization in the women’s movement in South Africa. The league has been at the forefront of the nation’s century-long transition from an authoritarian state to a democracy that espouses gender equality as a core constitutional value.

Cover of 'Short-Changed?'

Short-Changed?
South Africa since Apartheid
By Colin Bundy

What have been the most significant developments — political, social, economic — in South Africa since 1994? How much has changed since the demise of apartheid, and how much remains stubbornly the same? Should one celebrate a robust democracy now two decades old, or lament the corrosive effects of factionalism, greed, and corruption on political life? Colin Bundy tries to answer such questions, while avoiding simplistic or one-sided assessments of life under Mandela, Mbeki, and Zuma.

Cover of 'The Soweto Uprising'

The Soweto Uprising
By Noor Nieftagodien

The Soweto uprising was a true turning point in South Africa’s history. Even to contemporaries, it seemed to mark the beginning of the end of apartheid. This compelling book examines both the underlying causes and the immediate factors that led to this watershed event. It looks at the crucial roles of Black Consciousness ideology and nascent school-based organizations in shaping the character and form of the revolt.

Cover of 'Patrice Lumumba'

Patrice Lumumba
By Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja

Patrice Lumumba was a leader of the independence struggle in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the country’s first democratically elected prime minister. After a meteoric rise in the colonial civil service and the African political elite, he became a major figure in the decolonization movement of the 1950s.

Cover of 'Thomas Sankara'

Thomas Sankara
An African Revolutionary
By Ernest Harsch

Thomas Sankara, often called the African Che Guevara, was president of Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in Africa, until his assassination during the military coup that brought down his government. Although his tenure in office was relatively short, Sankara left an indelible mark on his country’s history and development.

Cover of 'Emperor Haile Selassie'

Emperor Haile Selassie
By Bereket Habte Selassie

Emperor Haile Selassie was an iconic figure of the twentieth century, a progressive monarch who ruled Ethiopia from 1916 to 1974. This book, written by a former state official who served in a number of important positions in Selassie’s government, tells both the story of the emperor’s life and the story of modern Ethiopia. After a struggle for the throne in 1916, the young Selassie emerged first as regent and then as supreme leader of Ethiopia.

Cover of 'Who Shall Enter Paradise?'

Who Shall Enter Paradise?
Christian Origins in Muslim Northern Nigeria, c. 1890–1975
By Shobana Shankar

Who Shall Enter Paradise? recounts in detail the history of Christian-Muslim engagement in a core area of sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous nation, home to roughly equal numbers of Christians and Muslims. It is a region today beset by religious violence, in the course of which history has often been told in overly simplified or highly partisan terms.

Finalist for the 2015 Aidoo-Snyder Prize
Cover of 'In Idi Amin’s Shadow'

In Idi Amin’s Shadow
Women, Gender, and Militarism in Uganda
By Alicia C. Decker

In Idi Amin’s Shadow is a rich social history examining Ugandan women’s complex and sometimes paradoxical relationship to Amin’s military state. Based on more than one hundred interviews with women who survived the regime, as well as a wide range of primary sources, this book reveals how the violence of Amin’s militarism resulted in both opportunities and challenges for women.

Winner of the 2015 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize for outstanding book on African women's experiences. (African Studies Association) · Honorable Mention, New York African Studies Association Book Prize
Cover of 'Making Modern Girls'

Making Modern Girls
A History of Girlhood, Labor, and Social Development in Colonial Lagos
By Abosede A. George

In Making Modern Girls, Abosede A. George examines the influence of African social reformers and the developmentalist colonial state on the practice and ideology of girlhood as well as its intersection with child labor in Lagos, Nigeria. It draws from gender studies, generational studies, labor history, and urban history to shed new light on the complex workings of African cities from the turn of the twentieth century through the nationalist era of the 1950s.

Finalist for the 2015 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize for outstanding book on African women’s experiences
Cover of 'Conjugal Rights'

Conjugal Rights
Marriage, Sexuality, and Urban Life in Colonial Libreville, Gabon
By Rachel Jean-Baptiste

Conjugal Rights is a history of the role of marriage and other arrangements between men and women in Libreville, Gabon, during the French colonial era, from the mid–nineteenth century through 1960. Conventional historiography has depicted women as few in number and of limited influence in African colonial towns, but this book demonstrates that a sexual economy of emotional, social, legal, and physical relationships between men and women indelibly shaped urban life.