New Books Network

Trevor Getz and Liz Clarke, “Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History” (Oxford UP, 2012)
Imagine this: a young African girl, barefoot but wearing a dress and head wrap, clenches her fists and looks you in the eye. Behind her a semi-circle of men, some in suits and some in kente cloth, turn their backs to her. The girl is Abina, the men are “Important... Read More
Mary Harper, “Getting Somalia Wrong: Faith, War, and Hope in a Shattered State” (Zed Books, 2012)
Several months ago I interviewed Steve Bloomfield, the author of a book on African football, for New Books in African studies. As usual, I ended the interview with a simple enough sounding question: ‘Where is your favourite place in Africa?’ Steve’s answer was an unusual one – ‘Mogadishu’. Out of... Read More
Helen Tilley, “Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950” (University of Chicago, 2011)
Helen Tilley‘s new book Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950 (University of Chicago Press, 2011) uncovers the surprising relationships that developed between science and empire as Britain attempted to fulfill its imperial projects in Africa. Focused primarily on Britain’s colonial dependencies, Tilley... Read More
Raymond Jonas, “The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire” (Harvard UP, 2011)
Raymond Jonas‘ The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire (Harvard UP, 2011) places Menelik alongside Napoleon and other greatest strategists. The Ethiopian emperor carried out a brilliant maneuver across hundreds of miles, essentially defeating his Italian adversaries without battle. That battle came was the colossal blunder... Read More
Orla Ryan, “Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa” (Zed Books, 2011)
When was the last time you ate some chocolate? If you live in the developed world there’s a strong chance that you’ve been munching on some fairly recently. At the basic level chocolate is an everyday treat and at the top end it is a seriously indulgent luxury product. But... Read More
Richard Bourne, “Catastrophe: What Went Wrong in Zimbabwe?” (Zed Books, 2011)
Much of the literature on modern Africa makes the unhappy comparison between hopes, especially upon independence, and reality. In Zimbabwe that link resonates even more than is normal. Zimbabwe only achieved full independence in 1980 after a brutal war involving several guerilla groups and the country’s white minority, which had... Read More
Stacy Schiff, “Cleopatra: A Life” (Back Bay Books, 2011)
Aside from being aesthetically equated to Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra has not fared well in history. In her riveting biography Cleopatra: A Life (Back Bay Books, 2011), which is now out in paperback, Stacy Schiff establishes that this was primarily because Cleopatra’s story was penned by a crowd of Roman historians... Read More