Empires in the Sun
The Struggle for the Mastery of Africa
By Lawrence James
How in a hundred years Europeans coerced Africa into their various empires - and how Africa decolonised itself.
In this compelling history of the men and ideas that radically changed the course of world history, Lawrence James investigates how, within a hundred years, Europeans persuaded and coerced Africa into becoming a subordinate part of the modern world. The continent was a magnet for the high-minded, the philanthropic, the unscrupulous and the insane. Visionary pro-consuls rub shoulders with missionaries, explorers, soldiers, adventurers, engineers, big-game hunters, entrepreneurs and physicians.
Eminent historian Lawrence James narrates how between 1830 and 1945, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal and Italy exported their languages, laws, culture, religions, scientific and technical knowledge and economic systems to Africa. The colonial powers imposed administrations designed to bring stability and peace to a continent that seemed to lack both. The justification for emancipation from slavery (and occupation) was the common assumption that the late nineteenth-century Europe was the summit of civilization. This magnificent history also pauses to ask: what did not happen and why?
Lawrence James was a founding member of the University of York and then took a research degree at Merton College, Oxford. After a distinguished teaching career he became a full-time writer in 1985 and has emerged as one of the outstanding narrative historians of his generation for works including The Rise and Fall of the British Empire and Churchill and Empire: Portrait of an Imperialist.
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- Publication date:
02 Nov 2017
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'The Second World War points back towards a colonial past in Africa, to bygone scrambles for imperial power. It also glances forward to decolonisation. This global conflict is at the centre of Lawrence James's excellent survey of African history from 1830 to 1990 . . . Empires in the Sun is a brisk, well-written and jaunty account of European empire-building in Africa . . . Intrigue and devious political calculations propel the fast-moving narrative . . . The book is a timely reminder of the complexity of international politics, and the nuanced balance of forces that have shaped our modern world' — Kwasi Kwarteng, THE TIMES
'A brisk, colourful account of the past 200 years of African history . . . A good informative read' — EVENING STANDARD
He writes as well as ever and is a sure-footed guide. — Edward Paice, THE SPECTATOR
[A] compelling, even-handed and masterful narrative — Saul David, LITERARY REVIEW