This book provides a fascinating summary of African history over 5000 years from the Stone Age to the classical Greek and Roman era through the ‘medieval’ period of the kingdoms of the Western Sudan and into the colonial era. This is far beyond the time span normally covered in history texts and it empowers Conton to sweeping conclusions. The style and language are simple in this text originally intended for West African secondary school students but the concepts the author explores are universal and still very topical. Writing from a very definite point of view his reach in space and time is vast drawing on historical evidence from around the globe from ancient classical medieval and pre-modern sources and from local oral traditions. Unafraid of controversy he confidently quotes Herodotus' account of the early circumnavigation of Africa before he describes the slow patient achievement of this objective by the Portuguese some 2000 years later. He raises the possibility that the Yoruba may have actually come from Egypt an "advanced civilization" which he maintains "probably had at least one [black] community." He dwells at length on the "great" African empires of Ghana Mali and Songhai all the while backing up his history with sources detailed maps and photographic evidence of the rich culture of ancient West Africa. This book provides a very useful background to the general reader interested in a fuller understanding of the region.
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