A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution




      A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution
By the time the Scramble for Africa among European colonial powers began in the late nineteenth century, Africa had already been globally connected for centuries Its gold had fueled the economies of Europe and the Islamic world for nearly a millennium, and the sophisticated kingdoms spanning its west coast had traded with Europeans since the fifteenth century Until at least 1650, this was a trade of equals, using a variety of currencies most importantly, cowrie shells imported from the Maldives and nzimbu shells imported from Brazil But, as the slave trade grew, African kingdoms began to lose prominence in the growing global economy We have been living with the effects of this shift ever since With A Fistful of Shells, Toby Green transforms our view of West and West Central Africa by reconstructing the world of these kingdoms, which revolved around trade, diplomacy, complex religious beliefs, and the production of art Green shows how the slave trade led to economic disparities that caused African kingdoms to lose relative political and economic power The concentration of money in the hands of Atlantic elites in and outside these kingdoms brought about a revolutionary nineteenth century in Africa, parallel to the upheavals then taking place in Europe and America Yet political fragmentation following the fall of African aristocracies produced radically different results as European colonization took hold Drawing not just on written histories, but on archival research in nine countries, art, oral history, archaeology, and letters, Green lays bare the transformations that have shaped world politics and the global economy since the fifteenth century and paints a new and masterful portrait of West Africa, past and present. Free Read [ A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution ] by [ Toby Green ] – heartforum.co.uk

Toby Green is the author of five previous works of non fiction, and his work has been translated into ten languages He teaches the history and culture of Portuguese speaking Africa at King s College London.


      A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution
 By Toby Green IBN : 022664457X Format : Hardcover – heartforum.co.uk
  • Hardcover
  • 640 pages
  • A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution
  • Toby Green
  • English
  • 23 April 2018
  • 022664457X

10 thoughts on “ A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution

  1. Thomas DeLair says:

    Having read a number of books about Atlantic Africa during the slave trade, this was the first comprehensive book I read that tackles both a broader regional aspects as well as the specifics of coastal kingdoms and communities As so many books on African history rely solely upon the accounts of European slave traders, this book attempts to place in the center the African perspective, rather than put Europeans as the only drivers of historical change in world history, where Africa is portrayed Having read a number of books about Atlantic Africa during the slave trade, this was the first comprehensive book I read that tackles both a broader regional aspects as well as the specifics of coastal kingdoms and communities As so many books on African history rely solely upon the accounts of European slave traders, this book attempts to place in the center the African perspective, rather than put Europeans as the only drivers of historical change in world history, where Africa is portrayed as a primitive agent with no history.I m not versed in the academic debate on West African history to know what parts of Green s book arecontroversial, but overall I felt his arguments in explaining the centuries of development from the 15th to early 19th century as plausible and thoughtful interpretations, even if there weren t many facts and figures available to back up Green s narrative Hopefully t...

  2. Bart says:

    This is a history of West Africa that is centered around the main theme that the involvement of the continent into global trade did not lead to economic prosperity, but instead to deep cultural change and upheaval Much of the argument is related to the point that African exports including mainly slave labour and gold could be used for accumulation and hence the creation of new wealth by their importers, while African imports cowries, cloth, iron provided much less opportunities to do This is a history of West Africa that is centered around the main theme that the involvement of the continent into global trade did not lead to economic prosperity, but instead to deep cultural change and upheaval Much of the argument is related to the point that African exports including mainly slave labour and gold could be used for accumulation and hence the creation of new wealth by their importers, while African imports cowries, cloth, iron provided much less opportunities to do that Green is not an economist, and the book suffers from this, although he himself would see this very much differently In his view, economists are all disciples of Adam Smith, believing that trade benefits all involved While I agree that African history speaks against such a view, it is also true that many economists would not be surprised by this The Latin American structuralist tradition as well as related Marxist views , for example...

  3. Becki Iverson says:

    This is the best single history of any part of Africa I ve ever read and should honestly be taught in all schools I picked it up because my knowledge of African history and cultures is so severely lacking the only region we ever learned about in school was Egypt and even that was almost remedial and I needed to have awell rounded understanding of the world This was the perfect book to pick up It s impeccably sourced and researched but remains quite readable and includes lots of This is the best single history of any part of Africa I ve ever read and ...

  4. Clivemichael says:

    Deeply researched and presented well Seemingly interminable descriptions and examples Insightful and informative one of the comfortable realities historians must deal with in their work is precisely that some people will defend liesfiercely th...

  5. Stephen King says:

    Thought provoking and wide ranging this is a great rejoinder to those who question the sophistication of Africa s economic and social diversity pre colonialism Delving deeply into the economics of pre colonial West Africa, it illustrates well the multiple currencies and regional a...

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