Central Africa

Perhaps best known as the intrepid adventurer who located the missing explorer David Livingstone in equatorial Africa in 1871, Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) played a major role in assembling the fragmented discoveries and uncertain geographical knowledge of central Africa into a coherent picture. He was the first European to explore the Congo River; assisted at the founding of the Congo Free State, and helped pave the way for the opening up of modern Africa.
In this classic account of one of his most important expeditions, the venerable Victorian recounts the incredibly difficult and perilous journey during which he explored the great lakes of Central Africa, confirming their size and position, searched for the sources of the Nile, and traced the unknown Congo River from the depths of the continent to the sea. Accompanied by three Englishmen and a crew of Africans, Stanley left Zanzibar in 1874. He traveled to Lake Victoria, which he circumnavigated in his boat, the Lady Alice. Almost immediately, illness, malnutrition and conflicts with native tribes began to decimate his followers. Nevertheless, the explorer pushed on, also circumnavigating Lake Tanganyika, which he determined to be unconnected with the Nile system. Finally in 1876, Stanley was ready to undertake "the grandest task of all" — exploring the Livingstone (Congo) River. He sailed down the vast waterway to the lake he called Stanley Pool, then on to a series of 32 cataracts he named Livingstone Falls. Unable to go further by boat, Stanley continued overland, reaching the Atlantic Ocean on August 12, 1877. Mishaps, hostile tribes, and disease had killed his three white companions and half the Africans, but Stanley had attained his objective.
His tremendous perseverance (his persistence led his men to nickname him Bula Matari — "the rock breaker") was complemented by Stanley's abilities as a keen observer and accomplished prose stylist. These talents are fully evident in this exciting narrative. It offers not only the action and adventure of a life-and-death struggle to survive in the African wilderness, but detailed descriptions of native peoples, customs, and culture; the flora and fauna of central Africa; and a wealth of geographical, ecological, and other information. Supplemented with 149 black-and-white illustrations and a foldout map, this monumental narrative will be welcomed by anyone interested in the European exploration of central Africa during the nineteenth century, the exploits of one of the great explorers of all time, and a breathtaking story of human endurance and achievement in the face of immense odds.
The Rwandan genocide sparked a horrific bloodbath that swept across sub-Saharan Africa, ultimately leading to the deaths of some four million people. In this extraordinary history of the recent wars in Central Africa, Gerard Prunier offers a gripping account of how one grisly episode laid the groundwork for a sweeping and disastrous upheaval. Prunier vividly describes the grisly aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, when some two million refugees--a third of Rwanda's population--fled to exile in Zaire in 1996. The new Rwandan regime then crossed into Zaire and attacked the refugees, slaughtering upwards of 400,000 people. The Rwandan forces then turned on Zaire's despotic President Mobutu and, with the help of a number of allied African countries, overthrew him. But as Prunier shows, the collapse of the Mobutu regime and the ascension of the corrupt and erratic Laurent-Désiré Kabila created a power vacuum that drew Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and other African nations into an extended and chaotic war. The heart of the book documents how the whole core of the African continent became engulfed in an intractible and bloody conflict after 1998, a devastating war that only wound down following the assassination of Kabila in 2001. Prunier not only captures all this in his riveting narrative, but he also indicts the international community for its utter lack of interest in what was then the largest conflict in the world. Praise for the hardcover: "The most ambitious of several remarkable new books that reexamine the extraordinary tragedy of Congo and Central Africa since the Rwandan genocide of 1994." --New York Review of Books "One of the first books to lay bare the complex dynamic between Rwanda and Congo that has been driving this disaster." --Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times Book Review "Lucid, meticulously researched and incisive, Prunier's will likely become the standard account of this under-reported tragedy." --Publishers Weekly
Endowed with natural resources, majestic bodies of fresh water, and a relatively mild climate, the Great Lakes region of Central Africa has also been the site of some of the world's bloodiest atrocities. In Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo-Kinshasa, decades of colonial subjugation—most infamously under Belgium's Leopold II—were followed by decades of civil warfare that spilled into neighboring countries. When these conflicts lead to horrors such as the 1994 Rwandan genocide, ethnic difference and postcolonial legacies are commonly blamed, but, with so much at stake, such simple explanations cannot take the place of detailed, dispassionate analysis.

The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa provides a thorough exploration of the contemporary crises in the region. By focusing on the historical and social forces behind the cycles of bloodshed in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo-Kinshasa, René Lemarchand challenges much of the conventional wisdom about the roots of civil strife in former Belgian Africa. He offers telling insights into the appalling cycle of genocidal violence, ethnic strife, and civil war that has made the Great Lakes region of Central Africa the most violent on the continent, and he sheds new light on the dynamics of conflict in the region.

Building on a full career of scholarship and fieldwork, Lemarchand's analysis breaks new ground in our understanding of the complex historical forces that continue to shape the destinies of one of Africa's most important regions.

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