Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

Approaching African History

Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

Approaching African History

Article excerpt

Approaching African History, by Michael Brett. Woodbridge: James Currey, 2013, xi + 356 pp. ISBN 9781847010636. £50.

Approaching African History treats Africa as a whole - Ancient Egypt and North Africa are as much part of Africa as any - and everywhere, south of the Sahara. Michael Brett's own area of expertise is North Africa especially the Berbers but he has read widely and charts and critiques the historiography of all Africa's regions and of the continent as a whole, fluently and judiciously. Brett is an Emeritus Reader at SOAS and his book is dedicated to that founder-saint of African history at SOAS, Roland Oliver.

Brett's stated aim, in which he largely succeeds, is "to provide a narrative outline of African history over the past ten thousand years, as it has been established over the past sixty years, to describe on the one hand the growth of the concept of Africa, and on the other to show the ways in which the narrative itself has been constructed and its conduct understood" (p. x). The opening chapters sketch out the contributions, challenges and opportunities of archaeology, ethnography and the written record and also linguistics, the natural and physical sciences to the understanding of the African past. …

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