Sunday, February 6, 2011

"AFRICA: A Biography of the Continent"

"About 100,000 years ago groups of modern humans left Africa for the first time and progressively colonized the rest of the world. Innovative talent carried them into every exploitable niche. They moved across the Sinai peninsula and were living in the eastern Mediterranean ...

By the early 1970s people had been to the moon. Such achievements, and all by virtue of talents which had evolved in Africa."

- from AFRICA: A Biography of the Continent, by John Reader

We all came out of Africa. Many of the most important fossil finds of early people have occurred here in Tanzania and nearby. I feel like I have returned to the cradle of humankind.

This book has impressed on me the extent of my ignorance of this huge sub-Saharan continent from which my ancestors left relatively recently, in evolutionary terms.

The writing is lucid, well-researched, compelling, and easy to read. The content is vast, addressing topics such as the ability to make a tool according to a mental picture; the development of language; the effects of geology, climate change, and diseases; the beginnings of agriculture; early cities and civilizations; the deep and widespread social disruptions caused by slavery and the slave trade; and the codifying of culture into rigid ethnic categories as an invention of Europeans.

There's much more, and it's highly recommended. -Earl

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