A vast and all-embracing history of Africa, from the origins of mankind to the aids epidemic.
Iliffe, an eminent African historian at Cambridge, offers a far-ranging survey of Africa from the development of the human species to the South African elections of 1994. He writes in a thematic rather than strictly chronological fashion. What sets his book apart from other such surveys (e.g., Basil Davidson's African Civilization Revisited, LJ 6/1/91. 2d ed.) is his treatment of the environment and population as factors in the development of Africa, including North Africa. Iliffe examines human coexistence with nature, the building up of enduring societies, and African reactions to outside forces; yet he always keeps the contemporary world in mind, focusing on the answers to such basic questions as why Africa remained relatively underdeveloped compared with Eurasian societies or why African states have experienced so many problems over the past couple of decades. Iliffe's excellent, well-written introductory text belongs in all collections of Africana.Paul H. Thomas, Hoover Inst. Lib., Stanford, Cal.