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Empires in the Sun: The Struggle for the Mastery of Africa

Lawrence James

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Prose: non-fiction, European history, African history, Colonialism & imperialism

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?

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Lawrence James

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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