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Book Categories: History, Royalty, Queens, Abyssinia, Angola, Benin, Berbers, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Empire, Chad, Congo, Cote D'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauretania, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Nubia, Pygmy, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Songhay, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia & Carthage, Uganda, Zambia, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe, Zulu, Children's Books
African Civilization Revisited by Basil Davidson. The story of Africa from antiquity to modern times, as told in the chronicles and records of chiefs, kings, and others.
The Lost Cities of Africa by Basil Davidson. Survey, based on archeological findings, of African life and civilization during the fifteen hundred years prior to colonization.
Introduction to African Civilizations by John G. Jackson. A panoramic view, from the dawn of prehistory to modern Africa.
The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800 by Christopher Ehret. An overview of African history during the long periods sparsely covered in most other general histories. Logically organized by topic and era.
Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War by Howard W. French. Retrieves the lives of major historical figures, from rich medieval emperors to ex-slaves who liberated Haitians.
The Cambridge History of Africa edited by J. Desmond Clark, J. D. Fage, Roland Oliver, Richard Gray, John E. Flint, and G. N. Sanderson. Eight-volume set of books. (Expensive.)
The Penguin Atlas of African History by Colin McEvedy. Reference book.
African Civilizations: An Archaeological Perspective by Graham Connah. Focuses on urbanism and state formation in seven main areas of Africa: Nubia, Ethiopia, the West African savanna, the West African forest, the East African coast and islands, the Zimbabwe Plateau, and parts of Central Africa.
The Origins and Structures of Political Institutions in Pre-Colonial Black Africa by Michal Tymowski. Dynastic monarchy, taxes and tributes, war and slavery, kinship and territory.
African Kings: Portraits of a Disappearing Era by Daniel Laine. Photographs of current tribal kings, accompanied by brief biographies and historical information.
African States and Rulers by John Stewart is a reference book with over 11,000 entries.
Kingdoms and Chiefdoms of Southeastern Africa: Oral Traditions and History, 1400-1830 by Elizabeth A. Eldredge. The social and political history of early precolonial peoples, including the regions of modern KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, southern Mozambique, and Lesotho.
Palaces of Stone: Uncovering Ancient Southern African Kingdoms by Mike Main and Thomas Huffman. Across southern Africa are more than 460 stone palaces built from AD 900 to approximately 1850.
African Royal Court Art by Michele Coquet, translated by Jane Marie Todd presents the court art of Benin, the Congo and Dahomey.
Royal Arts of Africa: The Majesty of Form by Suzanne Preston Blier. An illustrated look at how rulers of kingdoms from West and Central Africa defined individual and state identity with art and architecture.
Europe, Slavery, Colonialism
African Kings and Black Slaves: Sovereignty and Dispossession in the Early Modern Atlantic by Herman L. Bennett. As early as 1441, Portuguese and Spanish traders conducted business with African kingdoms.
Patrons, Clients, and Empire: Chieftaincy and Over-Rule in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific by Colin Newbury. Comparative study of relationships between the indigenous leaders and colonizing Europeans from the 17th to the 20th century.
Banished Potentates: Dethroning and Exiling Indigenous Monarchs Under British and French Colonial Rule by Robert Aldrich. Examines what happened to monarchs in Ceylon, India, Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam, Madagascar, Tunisia and Morocco.
In Praise of Black Women: Ancient African Queens by Simone Schwarz-Bart. Tells the stories of Queen Amanirenas of Kush, Shaka Zulu's mother Nandi, and others. Includes hundreds of color illustrations.
Queens, Queen Mothers, Priestesses and Power edited by Flora Edouwaye S. Kaplan is about female leaders in Africa.
Female Monarchs and Merchant Queens in Africa by Nwando Achebe. Documents the worlds and life histories of elite African females and women of privilege.
The Stolen Prince: Gannibal, Adopted Son of Peter the Great, Great-Grandfather of Alexander Pushkin, and Europe's First Black Intellectual by Hugh Barnes. In the spring of 1703, a seven-year-old African boy stepped off a slave ship in Constantinople. He claimed to be a prince of Abyssinia. Rescued by Tsar Peter the Great, he became Abram Petrovich Gannibal and founded a dynasty in Russia.
Njinga of Angola: Africa's Warrior Queen by Linda M. Heywood. The first full-length study in English of the multifaceted 17th century queen who waged wars against Portuguese colonizers and their African allies.
Historical Dictionary of Angola by W. Martin James. Over 500 entries on significant persons, places, and events in Angola's history. Includes a detailed chronology, maps, and an introductory essay.
Benin: Royal Arts of a West African Kingdom by Kathleen Bickford Berzock. Images of bronze figures, wall plaques, ivory tusks, pendants, and more. An essay outlines the kingdom's history and the function of artworks in the royal court.
Palace Sculptures of Abomey: History Told on Walls by Francesca Pique and Leslie H. Rainer. This book tells the history of the Dahomey kingdom and includes beautiful color photographs of bas-reliefs on palace walls.
Amazons of Black Sparta: The Women Warriors of Dahomey by Stanley B. Alpern.
Colonial Histories, Postcolonial Memories: The Legend of the Kahina, a North African Heroine by Abdelmajid Hannoum. Queen Kahina, a Jewish priestess who became ruler of the Berbers in Northern Africa, fought off Arab invaders. It is said that she had 400 husbands.
The Berbers by Michael Brett. Illustrated.
Historical Dictionary of Burundi by Ellen K. Eggers. Includes entries on important national figures, plus a chronology, bibliography, and detailed introduction.
The Great Lakes of Africa: Two Thousand Years of History by Jean-Pierre Chretien, translated by Scott Straus. This historical account of the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa -- which encompasses Burundi, eastern Congo, Rwanda, western Tanzania, and Uganda -- retraces the formation of kingdoms and describes their complex social and political organization.
Burundi: Ethnic Conflict and Genocide by Rene Lemarchand. Describes and analyzes the wholesale massacre of the Hutu majority by the Tutsi minority.
Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon by Mark D. Delancey. Reaches far back into early history, covers the colonial era extensively, and continues on to the modern era. Includes a chronology and a bibliography.
Royal Succession in the African Kingdom of Nso': A Study in Oral Historiography by Bongfen Chem-Langhee and Verkijika Fanso. A look at the Nso people of Cameroon, with chapters on the royal prerogative, the leopard pelt principle, and succession council membership.
Treasures of the Sculptor Kings: Memory, Arts and Techniques by Jean-Paul Notue. Interprets objects from Babungo, formerly the most important iron-working centre in Cameroon. Sculptor kings and artists used coded motifs to express ideas, beliefs, mythical scenes and historic events. Illustrated.
Dark Age: The Political Odyssey of Emperor Bokassa by Brian Titley. About the career of Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who seized power in the Central African Republic and later named himself emperor. He was overthrown by French paratroopers in 1979 and went into exile, but returned in 1985 to face trial.
Psychoses of Power: African Personal Dictatorships by Samuel Decalo. Profiles Jean-Bedel Bokassa and other African dictators.
Culture and Customs of the Central African Republic by Jacqueline Woodfork. Looks at life in one of the least known countries of the world. Includes a chronology, glossary, and selected bibliography.
Historical Dictionary of Chad by Samuel Decalo. One of Africa's largest yet least known countries, Chad has a rich pre-colonial heritage. This book includes maps and a chronology.
King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild. King Leopold of Belgium established a rule of terror in the Congo that culminated in the deaths of 4 to 8 million indigenous people.
The Troubled Heart of Africa: A History of the Congo by Robert B. Edgerton. The only book to give a complete history of the Congo, filling in the blanks in the country's history before the advent of King Leopold, and carrying us straight into modern headlines.
The Congo, From Leopold to Kabila: A People's History by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja. Political history of the Congolese democratic movement of the 20th century.
King Leopold's Congo and the "Scramble for Africa" by Michael A. Rutz. A short history with documents.
Historical Dictionary of Cote d'Ivoire (The Ivory Coast) by Cyril K. Daddieh. Contains over 700 cross-referenced entries, as well as a chronology, appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. Third edition.
Historical Dictionary of The Gambia by Arnold Hughes and David Perfect. A chronology, introductory essay, map, bibliography, and hundreds of entries on important people, places, events, culture, and more.
Lonely Planet The Gambia & Senegal by Katharina Kane. Travel guide that includes info on history and culture.
Prince Among Slaves by Terry Alford. Born in 1762, Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima was a prince from Futa Jallon who became a slave on an American plantation. This is the first full account of Ibrahima's life, pieced together from first-person accounts and historical documents.
Historical Dictionary of Guinea by Ibrahima Bah-Lalya and Thomas O'Toole. A reference book.
Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa by Martin A. Klein. Describes the history of slavery during the 19th and 20th centuries, the impact of the Atlantic slave trade, and slavery both before the French and under their rule.
East Africa: An Introductory History by Robert M. Maxon. Thorough overview of East Africa, including Kenya, with historical information from the Stone Age to the present.
Kenya: From Colonization to Independence, 1888-1970 by R. Mugo Gatheru. Home to Arabs, Indians and Europeans as well as various African tribes, Kenya experienced strife throughout its colonial history.
Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire by David Anderson. Account of Britain's final decade in Kenya, telling the story of the brutal war between the colonial government and the insurrectionist Mau Mau between 1952 and 1960.
Lonely Planet Kenya by Joe Bindloss, Tom Parkinson, Matt Fletcher. This travel guide includes facts about Kenya's history.
A History of the Ngonde Kingdom of Malawi by Owen J.M. Kalinga.
Historical Dictionary of Malawi by Owen J.M. Kalinga. Encyclopedic reference to people and events of Malawi's history from the Stone Age to the 20th century.
Historical Dictionary of Namibia by John J. Grotpeter. This book goes beyond Namibia's well-known struggle for independence to consider how the land was peopled and developed prior to colonization. Includes a chronology and an extensive bibliography.
Namibia Under South African Rule: Mobility & Containment, 1915-46 edited by Patricia Hayes, Jeremy Silvester, Marion Wallace, Wolfram Hartmann.
Historical Dictionary of Niger by Samuel Decalo. A single-volume reference for scholars.
"The Pygmies Were Our Compass": Bantu and Batwa in the History of West Central Africa, Early Times to c. 1900 C.E. by Kairn A. Klieman. Covering more than 2,000 years, this is the first historical work to reconstruct a Batwa or "Pygmy" past.
Children of the Forest: Africa's Mbuti Pygmies by Kevin Duffy. Describes the lives of these forest nomads.
The Forest People by Colin Turnbull. Describes the author's experiences while living with the BaMbuti Pygmies, learning their customs and sharing their daily life.
Mbuti Pgymies: Change and Adaptation by Colin Turnbull. A study of the Mbuti pygmy hunter/gatherers of Zaire, with historical background, and details of the changes brought about by the "Zimba revolution" and independence.
The King of the World in the Land of the Pygmies by Joan Mark. Biography of a 20th century anthropologist who spent 25 years living among the Bambuti pygmies of the Ituri Forest in what is now Zaire.
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch. In April 1994, the Rwandan government called upon the Hutu majority to kill the Tutsi minority, and over the next three months 800,000 Tutsis perished (including Queen Rosalie Gicanda). This book discusses the genocide, its background, and its aftermath.
Antecedents to Modern Rwanda: The Nyiginya Kingdom by Jan Vansina. Critiques the history recorded by early missionaries and court historians, and draws on hundreds of grassroots narratives to describe the genesis of Hutu and Tutsi identities.
Culture and Customs of Rwanda by Julius O. Adekunle. Looks at social customs, religion, art, traditional dress, and more.
Historical Dictionary of Rwanda by Learthen Dorsey. An extensive survey of political, social, and economic events from antiquity to the 20th century.
Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda by Rosamond Halsey Carr. Arriving in Africa in 1949, the author witnessed the traditions of the royal Tutsi dynasty, camped in pygmy villages, mingled with European aristocrats, and managed a flower plantation in Rwanda. After the genocide she started a home for orphans. (Review © Amazon.com)
Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner by Daniel L. Schafer. Born a princess from the royal family of Jolof in Senegal, Anna was captured from her homeland in 1806 and became first a slave, later a slaveowner.
God Alone Is King: Islam and Emancipation in Senegal by James F. Searing is about the Wolof Kingdoms of Kajoor and Bawol, 1859-1914.
Historical Dictionary of Sierra Leone by C. Magbaily Fyle. The earliest known inhabitants, the colonial era, and the period of independence. Entries describe significant leaders, events, political parties and movements, ethnic groups. Includes a bibliography.
A Princess Found: An American Family, an African Chiefdom, and the Daughter Who Connected Them All by Sarah Culberson and Tracy Trivas. Raised in the United States with little knowledge of her ancestry, Sarah Culberson was surprised to learn that she was related to a ruling Mende family in Sierra Leone.
Historical Dictionary of Togo by Samuel Decalo. Concise entries covering the people, places, events, institutions, history, and culture of Togo.
Women, Gender, and the Palace Households in Ottoman Tunisia by Amy Aisen Kallander. This in-depth study of the ruling family of Tunisia in the 18th and 19th centuries delves into palace dynamics, comparing them to monarchies outside the Ottoman Empire.
The Tunisia of Ahmad Bey, 1837-1855 by Leon Carl Brown. Under the energetic prodding of activist ruler Ahmad Bey, Tunisia instituted political and military reforms.
Divided Rule: Sovereignty and Empire in French Tunisia, 1881-1938 by Mary Dewhurst Lewis. After invading Tunisia in 1881, the French shared power with the Tunisian ruling dynasty and, due to the dynasty's treaties with other European powers, with some of their imperial rivals.
Carthage: A Mosaic of Ancient Tunisia by Eric Delson, Lowell Dingus, and David Soren. Based on an exhibition presented by the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with Bardo National Museum and Carthage National Museum.
Historical Dictionary of Tunisia by Kenneth J. Perkins. Includes an extensive bibliography, a chronology, maps, and a list of rulers from 800-1996.
Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar by Emily Ruete. The autobiography of Salme, Princess of Zanzibar and Oman, who was born in 1840. (Zanzibar is now part of Tanzania.)
An Arabian Princess Between Two Worlds contains more of Princess Salme's writings.
The First Sultan of Zanzibar: Scrambling for Power and Trade in the Nineteenth Century Indian Ocean by Beatrice Nicolini. In the 19th century, the Omanis consolidated their empire and Sa'id bin Sultan moved the imperial capital to Zanzibar.
The Rough Guide to Zanzibar by Jens Finke. This travel guide includes a section on Zanzibar's history.
Becoming Zimbabwe edited by Brian Raftopoulos and Alois Mlambo. A history from the pre-colonial period to 2008.
A History of Zimbabwe, 1890-2000 by Chengetai J. M. Zvobgo. Includes a postscript on Zimbabwe from 2001 to 2008.
Historical Dictionary of Zimbabwe by Steven C. Rubert and R. Kent Rasmussen.
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Great African Kingdoms by Sean Sheehan. For children ages 9-12.
African Princess: The Amazing Lives of Africa's Royal Women by Joyce Hansen, illustrated by Laurie McGaw. Tells the stories of six remarkable royal women and the eras in which they lived, from 1473 B.C. to modern times. For children ages 4 to 8.
Njinga: The Warrior Queen by Janie Havemeyer, illustrated by Peter Malone. A 17th century West African queen of kingdoms located in what is now Angola, Njinga fought fiercely to keep her people from slavery. Yet she engaged in slave trading herself, performed human sacrifices, and may even have murdered her own nephew. For children ages 9 and up.
Nzingha, Warrior Queen of Matamba Angola, Africa 1595 by Patricia McKissack. A fictional diary for children ages 9 to 12. The real Nzingha became the queen of Ndongo (in Angola) in 1623.
At Her Majesty's Request: An African Princess in Victorian England by Walter Dean Myers. The true story of an apparently royal African girl who was slated to be sacrificed in Dahomey, but was rescued at the last minute by a British sea captain. She became a protegee of Queen Victoria. For children ages 9-12.
Children's Books About Botswana
BBC: The Story of Africa