Now Martin Meredith has revised this classic history to incorporate important recent developments, including the Darfur crisis in Sudan, Robert Mugabe's continued destructive rule in Zimbabwe, controversies over Western aid and exploitation of Africa's resources, the growing importance and influence of China, and the democratic movement roiling the North African countries of Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan.
In Born in Africa, Martin Meredith follows the trail of discoveries about human origins made by scientists over the last hundred years, recounting their intense rivalry, personal feuds, and fierce controversies as well as their feats of skill and endurance.
The results have been momentous. Scientists have identified more than twenty species of extinct humans. They have firmly established Africa as the birthplace not only of humankind but also of modern humans. They have revealed how early technology, language ability, and artistic endeavour all originated in Africa; and they have shown how small groups of Africans spread out from Africa in an exodus sixty thousand years ago to populate the rest of the world. We have all inherited an African past.
Martin Meredith's vivid portrayal of this towering leader was originally acclaimed as “an exemplary work of biography: instructive, illuminating, as well as felicitously written” (Kirkus Reviews), providing “new insights on the man and his time” (Washington Post). Now Meredith has revisited and significantly updated his biography to incorporate a decade of additional perspective and hindsight on the man and his legacy and to examine how far his hopes for the new South Africa have been realised.
Published as South Africa celebrates 100 years since its founding and hosts the 2010 World Cup, Nelson Mandela is the most thorough and up-to-date account available of the life of its most revered hero.
What will become of these magnificent beasts? As the elephant's future looms ever darker, Martin Meredith's concise and richly illustrated biography traces the elephant's history from the first ivory expeditions of the Egyptian pharaohs 2500 years ago to today, exploring along the way the indelible imprint the African elephant has made in art, literature, culture, and society. He shares recent extraordinary discoveries about the elephant's sophisticated family and community structure and reveals the remarkable ways in which elephants show compassion and loyalty to each other.
Elegant, illuminating, and urgent, Elephant Destiny offers a beautiful and important tribute to one of earth's most magisterial creatures at the very moment it threatens to vanish from being.
In this deeply reported book, Jason Stearns vividly tells the story of this misunderstood conflict through the experiences of those who engineered and perpetrated it. He depicts village pastors who survived massacres, the child soldier assassin of President Kabila, a female Hutu activist who relives the hunting and methodical extermination of fellow refugees, and key architects of the war that became as great a disaster as--and was a direct consequence of--the genocide in neighboring Rwanda. Through their stories, he tries to understand why such mass violence made sense, and why stability has been so elusive.
Through their voices, and an astonishing wealth of knowledge and research, Stearns chronicles the political, social, and moral decay of the Congolese State.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Encompassing everything from immigration to civil war, emancipation, slavery and migration, Black History in an Hour gives you a neat overview of this vast and fascinating subject.
This e-book is a superb introduction to the long and varied history of African Americans.
Know your stuff: read about Black History in just one hour.
--The New York Times Book Review
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history
New York Times Book Review Top Ten books of the Year
How did America begin? That simple question launches the acclaimed author of Bunker Hill and Valiant Ambition on an extraordinary journey to understand the truth behind our most sacred national myth: the voyage of the Mayflower and the settlement of Plymouth Colony. As Philbrick reveals in this electrifying history of the Pilgrims, the story of Plymouth Colony was a fifty-five year epic that began in peril and ended in war. New England erupted into a bloody conflict that nearly wiped out the English colonists and natives alike. These events shaped the existing communites and the country that would grow from them.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Nelson A. Denis tells this powerful story through the controversial life of Pedro Albizu Campos, who served as the president of the Nationalist Party. A lawyer, chemical engineer, and the first Puerto Rican to graduate from Harvard Law School, Albizu Campos was imprisoned for twenty-five years and died under mysterious circumstances. By tracing his life and death, Denis shows how the journey of Albizu Campos is part of a larger story of Puerto Rico and US colonialism.
Through oral histories, personal interviews, eyewitness accounts, congressional testimony, and recently declassified FBI files, War Against All Puerto Ricans tells the story of a forgotten revolution and its context in Puerto Rico's history, from the US invasion in 1898 to the modern-day struggle for self-determination. Denis provides an unflinching account of the gunfights, prison riots, political intrigue, FBI and CIA covert activity, and mass hysteria that accompanied this tumultuous period in Puerto Rican history.
“This is not a book you read just once, but a tale of terrible beauty to get lost in over and over.”—Newsweek
“By turns mischievous and openhearted, earthy and soaring . . . hair-raising, horrific, and thrilling.”—The New Yorker
In Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with visceral authenticity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fuller’s endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller’s debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.
From 1972 to 1990, Alexandra Fuller—known to friends and family as Bobo—grew up on several farms in southern and central Africa. Her father joined up on the side of the white government in the Rhodesian civil war, and was often away fighting against the powerful black guerilla factions. Her mother, in turn, flung herself at their African life and its rugged farm work with the same passion and maniacal energy she brought to everything else. Though she loved her children, she was no hand-holder and had little tolerance for neediness. She nurtured her daughters in other ways: She taught them, by example, to be resilient and self-sufficient, to have strong wills and strong opinions, and to embrace life wholeheartedly, despite and because of difficult circumstances. And she instilled in Bobo, particularly, a love of reading and of storytelling that proved to be her salvation.
A worthy heir to Isak Dinesen and Beryl Markham, Alexandra Fuller writes poignantly about a girl becoming a woman and a writer against a backdrop of unrest, not just in her country but in her home. But Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight is more than a survivor’s story. It is the story of one woman’s unbreakable bond with a continent and the people who inhabit it, a portrait lovingly realized and deeply felt.
Praise for Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight
“The Africa of this beautiful book is not easy to forget. Despite, or maybe even because of, the snakes, the leopards, the malaria and the sheer craziness of its human inhabitants, often violent but pulsing with life, it seems like a fine place to grow up, at least if you are as strong, passionate, sharp and gifted as Alexandra Fuller.”—Chicago Tribune
“Owning a great story doesn’t guarantee being able to tell it well. That’s the individual mystery of talent, a gift with which Alexandra Fuller is richly blessed, and with which she illuminates her extraordinary memoir. . . . There’s flavor, aroma, humor, patience . . . and pinpoint observational acuity.”—Entertainment Weekly
“This is a joyously telling memoir that evokes Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club as much as it does Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa.”—New York Daily News
“Riveting . . . [full of] humor and compassion.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“The incredible story of an incredible childhood.”—The Providence Journal
From the Hardcover edition.
Born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert, Halima was doted on by her father, a cattle herder, and kept in line by her formidable grandmother. A politically astute man, Halima’s father saw to it that his daughter received a good education away from their rural surroundings. Halima excelled in her studies and exams, surpassing even the privileged Arab girls who looked down their noses at the black Africans. With her love of learning and her father’s support, Halima went on to study medicine, and at twenty-four became her village’s first formal doctor.
Yet not even the symbol of good luck that dotted her eye could protect her from the encroaching conflict that would consume her land. Janjaweed Arab militias started savagely assaulting the Zaghawa, often with the backing of the Sudanese military. Then, in early 2004, the Janjaweed attacked Bashir’s village and surrounding areas, raping forty-two schoolgirls and their teachers. Bashir, who treated the traumatized victims, some as young as eight years old, could no longer remain quiet. But breaking her silence ignited a horrifying turn of events.
In this harrowing and heartbreaking account, Halima Bashir sheds light on the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives being eradicated by what is fast becoming one of the most terrifying genocides of the twenty-first century. Raw and riveting, Tears of the Desert is more than just a memoir–it is Halima Bashir’s global call to action.
From the Hardcover edition.
Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a first-hand witness to a strange and desperate limbo-land, getting to know many of those who have come there seeking sanctuary. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for football; Nisho, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and schoolgirl Kheyro, whose future hangs upon her education.
In City of Thorns, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there. Rawlence combines intimate storytelling with broad socio-political investigative journalism, doing for Dadaab what Katherinee Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers did for the Mumbai slums. Lucid, vivid and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with deep international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dadaab home.
George Washington – a figure synonymous with American history. His image is known worldwide, marked on American currency, postage stamps – even a state is named after him. George Washington in an Hour explores the man beneath the symbol. This is the essential chronicle of Washington’s life – his rise from middle class Virginian upbringing to America’s first President, elected unanimously twice.
Explore Washington’s legacy – from securing Independence, to his instrumental role in writing and adopting the American constitution. George Washington in an Hour covers Washington’s redefinition of greatness, relinquishing power not once but twice – at the end of Revolution and his second term in Presidency. Learn why Washington is still considered one of the most influential people in history, and how his impact shaped the world in this engaging overview of his life.
Love history? Know your stuff with History in an Hour...
Surviving the Slaughter: The Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire is the eyewitness account of Marie Béatrice Umutesi. She tells of life in the refugee camps in Zaire and her flight across 2000 kilometers on foot. During this forced march, far from the world’s cameras, many Hutu refugees were trampled and murdered. Others died from hunger, exhaustion, and sickness, or simply vanished, ignored by the international community and betrayed by humanitarian organizations. Amidst this brutality, day-to-day suffering, and desperate survival, Umutesi managed to organize the camps to improve the quality of life for women and children.
In this first-hand account of inexplicable brutality, day-to-day suffering, and survival, Marie Béatrice Umutesi sheds light on a backlash of violence that targeted the Hutu refugees of Rwanda after the victory of the Rwandan Patriotic Front in 1994. Umutesi’s documentation of the flight and terror of these years provides the world a veritable account of a history that is still widely unknown. After translations from its original French into three other languages, this important book is available in English for the first time. It is more than a testimony to the lives and humanity lost; it is a call for those politicians, military personnel, and humanitarian organizations responsible for the atrocious crimes—and the devastating silence—to be held accountable.
“Umutesi’s tale, told with honesty and eloquence, is a tribute to the human spirit, a searing indictment of the agents who perpetrated these horrors, and a reproach to those who turned away.”—Catharine Newbury, African Studies Review
“Restores a human dimension that has been lacking in the history of the genocide and massacres in Rwanda.”—Danielle de Lame, African Studies Review
“A vivid account of the grueling nightmare experienced by tens of thousands of Rwandan civilians whom the world had deliberately forsaken. . . . An outstanding call for justice.”—Aloys Habimama, African Studies Review
“A towering work. . . . An epic for our times, a tale to ponder for the lessons it conveys, testimony so powerful and moving that it reaches an unintended literary greatness.”—Jan Vansina, African Studies Review
“Of all the current books and films ten years after the Rwandan genocide, none is more effective than Surviving the Slaughter . . . . This book carries one along, often as if running with the refugees.”—Anne Serafin, Multicultural Review
Vansina’s case study of the colonial experience is the realm of Kuba, a kingdom in Congo about the size of New Jersey—and two-thirds the size of its colonial master, Belgium. The experience of its inhabitants is the story of colonialism, from its earliest manifestations to its tumultuous end. What happened in Kuba happened to varying degrees throughout Africa and other colonized regions: racism, economic exploitation, indirect rule, Christian conversion, modernization, disease and healing, and transformations in gender relations. The Kuba, like others, took their own active part in history, responding to the changes and calamities that colonization set in motion. Vansina follows the region’s inhabitants from the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century, when a new elite emerged on the eve of Congo’s dramatic passage to independence.
Learn about the Egyptian gods, mummification and how the Egyptians built the only wonder of the ancient world still standing – the Pyramids of Giza.
Exploring the historic rise of Egyptian civilization
and its continued influence on the world today, Ancient Egypt in an Hour is an excellent companion to a mysterious and enthralling period of history.
Know your stuff: discover ancient Egypt in just one hour.
Bernal Díaz del Castillo, himself a soldier under Cortes, presents a fascinatingly detailed description of the Spanish landing in Mexico in 1520 and their amazement at the city, the exploitation of the natives for gold and other treasures, the expulsion and flight of the Spaniards, their regrouping and eventual capture of the Aztec capital.
In a country where playing the U.S. Department of State’s green card lottery is a national pastime and the preponderance of cybercafés and Western Union branches signals a widespread desire to connect to the rest of the world, Nostalgia for the Future makes clear that the cultural and political terrain that underlies postcolonial theory has shifted. In order to map out this new terrain, Piot enters into critical dialogue with a host of important theorists, including Agamben, Hardt and Negri, Deleuze, and Mbembe. The result is a deft interweaving of rich observations of Togolese life with profound insights into the new, globalized world in which that life takes place.
This landmark study of Ifa, the most important and elaborate system of divination of the Yoruba people of Nigeria, remains a monumental contribution to scholarship in anthropology, folklore, religion, philosophy, linguistics, and African and African-American studies.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The contributors are Augustine H. Agwuele, Christine Ayorinde, Matt D. Childs, Gibril R. Cole, David Eltis, Toyin Falola, C. Magbaily Fyle, Rosalyn Howard, Robin Law, Babatunde Lawal, Russell Lohse, Paul E. Lovejoy, Beatriz G. Mamigonian, Robin Moore, Ann O'Hear, Luis Nicolau ParÃ©s, Michele Reid, João JosÃ© Reis, Kevin Roberts, and Mariza de Carvalho Soares.
Blacks in the Diaspora -- Claude A. Clegg III, editor
Darlene Clark Hine, David Barry Gaspar, and John McCluskey, founding editors
The 17 contributors to Ã’sun across the Waters delineate the special dimensions of Ã’sun religion as it appears through multiple disciplines in multiple cultural contexts. Tracing the extent of Ã’sun traditions takes us across the waters and back again. Ã’sun traditions continue to grow and change as they flow and return from their sources in Africa and the Americas.
Long after his presidency of South Africa, Nelson Mandela remained an inspirational figure to millions – both in his homeland and far beyond. He has been, without doubt, one of the most important figures in global history. His death, on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95, resonated around the world.
Mandela’s opposition to apartheid and his 27 year incarceration at the hands of South Africa’s all-white regime are familiar to most. In this utterly compelling book, eminent biographer Anthony Sampson draws on a fifty year-long relationship to reveal the man who rocked a continent – and changed its future.
With unprecedented access to the former South African president – the letters he wrote in prison, his unpublished jail autobiography, extensive conversations, and interviews with hundreds of colleagues, friends, and family – Sampson depicts the realities of Mandela’s private and public life, and the tragic tension between them. Updated after Sampson’s death with a new afterword by distinguished South African journalist John Battersby, this is the ultimate biography of one of the twentieth century’s greatest statesmen.
This remarkable debut book chronicles what has happened in Rwanda and neighboring states since 1994, when the Rwandan government called on everyone in the Hutu majority to murder everyone in the Tutsi minority. Though the killing was low-tech--largely by machete--it was carried out at shocking speed: some 800,000 people were exterminated in a hundred days. A Tutsi pastor, in a letter to his church president, a Hutu, used the chilling phrase that gives Philip Gourevitch his title.
With keen dramatic intensity, Gourevitch frames the genesis and horror of Rwanda's "genocidal logic" in the anguish of its aftermath: the mass displacements, the temptations of revenge and the quest for justice, the impossibly crowded prisons and refugee camps. Through intimate portraits of Rwandans in all walks of life, he focuses on the psychological and political challenges of survival and on how the new leaders of postcolonial Africa went to war in the Congo when resurgent genocidal forces threatened to overrun central Africa.
Can a country composed largely of perpetrators and victims create a cohesive national society? This moving contribution to the literature of witness tells us much about the struggle everywhere to forge sane, habitable political orders, and about the stubbornness of the human spirit in a world of extremity.
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families is the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.
Along with French General Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau, George Washington made an astonishing march through New Jersey and trapped British General Charles Cornwallis and his forces in Yorktown, Virginia, where they unleashed a tremendous artillery assault, with the support of the French navy. But victory was never certain - both sides made a series of dramatic attacks and counterattacks.
Using the diaries and letters of participants in the siege, Fleming creates a moving and exciting depiction of the days in October 1781 that ended the American Revolution and changed the world.
After a struggle for the throne in 1916, the young Selassie emerged first as regent and then as supreme leader of Ethiopia. Over the course of his nearly six-decade rule, the emperor abolished slavery, introduced constitutional reform, and expanded educational opportunity. The Italian invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930s led to a five-year exile in England, from which he returned in time to lead his country through World War II. Selassie was also instrumental in the founding of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, but he fell short of the ultimate goal of a promised democracy in Ethiopia. The corruption that grew under his absolute rule, as well as his seeming indifference to the famine that gripped Ethiopia in the 1970s, led finally to his overthrow by the armed forces that he had created.
Haile Selassie was an enlightened monarch in many ways, but also a man with flaws like any other. This short biography is a sensitive portrayal of Selassie as both emperor and man, by one who knew him well.
Now, Vansina—with the benefit of two decades of additional thought and research—has revised his original work substantially, completely rewriting some sections and adding much new material. The result is an essentially new work, indispensable to all students and scholars of history, anthropology, folklore, and ethno-history who are concerned with the transmission and potential uses of oral material.
“Those embarking on the challenging adventure of historical fieldwork with an oral community will find the book a valuable companion, filled with good practical advice. Those who already have collected bodies of oral material, or who strive to interpret and analyze that collected by others, will be forced to subject their own methodological approaches to a critical reexamination in the light of Vansina’s thoughtful and provocative insights. . . . For the second time in a quarter of a century, we are profoundly in the debt of Jan Vansina.”—Research in African Literatures
“Oral Traditions as History is an essential addition to the basic literature of African history.”—American Historical Review
Adopts a long-term approach to current issues, stressing the importance of nineteenth-century and deeper indigenous dynamics in explaining Africa's later twentieth-century challenges Places a greater focus on African agency, especially during the colonial encounter Includes more in-depth coverage of non-Anglophone Africa Offers expanded coverage of the post-colonial era to take account of recent developments, including the conflict in Darfur and the political unrest of 2011 in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya
Bloomberg • Forbes • The Spectator
Recipient of Foreign Policy's 2013 Albie Award
A powerful portrayal of Jeffrey Sachs's ambitious quest to end global poverty
"The poor you will always have with you," to cite the Gospel of Matthew 26:11. Jeffrey Sachs—celebrated economist, special advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations, and author of the influential bestseller The End of Poverty—disagrees. In his view, poverty is a problem that can be solved. With single-minded determination he has attempted to put into practice his theories about ending extreme poverty, to prove that the world's most destitute people can be lifted onto "the ladder of development."
In 2006, Sachs launched the Millennium Villages Project, a daring five-year experiment designed to test his theories in Africa. The first Millennium village was in Sauri, a remote cluster of farming communities in western Kenya. The initial results were encouraging. With his first taste of success, and backed by one hundred twenty million dollars from George Soros and other likeminded donors, Sachs rolled out a dozen model villages in ten sub-Saharan countries. Once his approach was validated it would be scaled up across the entire continent. At least that was the idea.
For the past six years, Nina Munk has reported deeply on the Millennium Villages Project, accompanying Sachs on his official trips to Africa and listening in on conversations with heads-of-state, humanitarian organizations, rival economists, and development experts. She has immersed herself in the lives of people in two Millennium villages: Ruhiira, in southwest Uganda, and Dertu, in the arid borderland between Kenya and Somalia. Accepting the hospitality of camel herders and small-hold farmers, and witnessing their struggle to survive, Munk came to understand the real-life issues that challenge Sachs's formula for ending global poverty.
THE IDEALIST is the profound and moving story of what happens when the abstract theories of a brilliant, driven man meet the reality of human life.
Chapter 1 covers his birth into a strong Xhosa family and clan, with cultural, historical, and geographical context, and the next chapter follows his elite education path, taking into consideration the forces and people who helped shape the future leader. Chapter 3 discusses his law practice, African National Congress work, and his first wife. Chapters 4-6 continue with his growing political involvement and family. Chapter 7 and 8 deal with the long imprisonment and then freedom. The final chapters discuss his presidency and Nobel Peace Prize and life today. A timeline, photo essay, and selected bibliography complement the narrative.
Survey of Pre-Historic Man
Ethiopia at the Crossroads
The Hoare-Laval Plan
Arab-Moorish Civilization and Culture
Brief Statement of Courses in Schools Today
Groundwork for Teachers
That Word “Negro” — (negro)
Early Traces in the Ancient East
Summary of Native States
Liberia and Sierra Leone
Africans in Latin America
Africans in Oceania
Africans in the United States
Summary and Conclusion
In a time of death and terror, Leymah Gbowee brought Liberia’s women together—and together they led a nation to peace.
As a young woman, Leymah Gbowee was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of countless relatives and friends. Years of fighting destroyed her country—and shattered Gbowee’s girlhood hopes and dreams. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her bitterness into action, propelled by her realization that it is women who suffer most during conflicts—and that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force. In 2003, the passionate and charismatic Gbowee helped organize and then led the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia’s ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike. With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace—in the process emerging as an international leader who changed history. Mighty Be Our Powers is the gripping chronicle of a journey from hopelessness to empowerment that will touch all who dream of a better world.
In the wake of Hotel Rwanda’s international success, Rusesabagina is one of the most well-known Rwandans and now the smiling face of the very Hutu Power groups who drove the genocide. He is accused by the Rwandan prosecutor general of being a genocide negationist and funding the terrorist group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
For the first time, learn what really happened inside the walls of Hotel des Mille Collines.
In Inside the Hotel Rwanda, survivor Edouard Kayihura tells his own personal story of what life was really like during those harrowing days within the walls of that infamous hotel and offers the testimonies of others who survived there, from Hutu and Tutsi to UN peacekeepers. Kayihura writes of a divided society and his journey to the place he believed would be safe from slaughter.
The book exposes the Hollywood hero of the film Hotel Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina, as a profiteering and politically ambitious Hutu Power sympathizer who extorted money from those who sought refuge, threatening to send those who did not pay to the génocidaires, despite pleas from the hotel’s corporate ownership to stop.
Inside the Hotel Rwanda is at once a memoir, a critical deconstruction of a heralded Hollywood movie alleged to be factual, and a political analysis aimed at exposing a falsely created hero using his fame to be a political force, spouting the same ethnic apartheid that caused the genocide two decades ago.
Kayihura’s Inside the Hotel Rwanda offers an honest and unflinching first-hand account of the reality of life inside the hotel, exposing the man who exploited refugees and shedding much-needed light on the plight of his victims.
Employing a novel approach to ethics in practice and in relationship to international organizations, Barnett offers an unsettling possibility: the UN culture recast the ethical commitments of well-intentioned individuals, arresting any duty to aid at the outset of the genocide. Barnett argues that the UN bears some moral responsibility for the genocide. Particularly disturbing is his observation that not only did the UN violate its moral responsibilities, but also that many in New York believed that they were "doing the right thing" as they did so. Barnett addresses the ways in which the Rwandan genocide raises a warning about this age of humanitarianism and concludes by asking whether it is possible to build moral institutions.
One of the sisters joined a rebel army, was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle, and escaped in disguise in 1746. Her younger brother was a close friend of Adam Smith and David Hume. Another brother was fluent in Persian and Bengali, and married to a celebrated poet. He was the owner of a slave known only as "Bell or Belinda," who journeyed from Calcutta to Virginia, was accused in Scotland of infanticide, and was the last person judged to be a slave by a court in the British isles. In Grenada, India, Jamaica, and Florida, the Johnstones embodied the connections between European, American, and Asian empires. Their family history offers insights into a time when distinctions between the public and private, home and overseas, and slavery and servitude were in constant flux.
Based on multiple archives, documents, and letters, The Inner Life of Empires looks at one family's complex story to describe the origins of the modern political, economic, and intellectual world.
Originally published in 1915, the book was acclaimed in its time, widely read, and deeply influential in both the white and black communities, yet this beautifully written history is virtually unknown today. As a wellspring of critical studies of Africa and African Americans, it directly and indirectly influenced and inspired the works of scholars such as C. L. R. James, Eric Williams, Herbert Aptheker, Eric Foner, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. One of the most important books on Africa ever written, it remains fresh, dynamic, and insightful to this day.
The Negro is compelling on many levels. By comparing W. E. B. Du Bois's analysis with subsequent scholarship, Robert Gregg demonstrates in his afterword that The Negro was well ahead of its time: Du Bois's view of slavery prefigures both paternalistic perspectives and the materialist view that the system was part of the capitalist mode of production. On black contributions to the Civil War and to the emancipation of slaves, historians have yet to acknowledge all that Du Bois delineated. In his discussion of Reconstruction, Du Bois preempts much later historiography. His identification of segregation as an issue of class rather than race is almost forty years ahead of C. Vann Woodward's similar thesis. As to the matter of race, Du Bois is clear that the concept is a social construct having no foundation in biology.
Intellectually and historically prescient, Du Bois assumed globalization as a matter of course, so that his definition of the color line in The Negro links all colonized peoples, not just people of African descent. With the resolution of the Cold War and the ascendancy of the global market, Du Bois's sweeping vision of Africans and the diaspora seems more relevant now than at any time in the past hundred years.