Empires in the Sun: The Struggle for Mastery of Africa


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Empires in the Sun: The Struggle for Mastery of Africa

Lawrence James

ISBN 9781868427819

In this magnificent work of narrative history Lawrence James investigates how, within the space of a hundred years, Europe coerced Africa into becoming subordinate to an emerging modern world. Laced with the experiences of participants and onlookers, Empires in the Sun introduces the men and women – the high-minded, philanthropic, unscrupulous and insane – who stamped their wills indelibly upon the continent.

Between 1830 and 1945, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Italy and the United States exported their languages, laws, cultures, religions, scientific knowledge and economic systems to Africa. Justifying occupation as emancipation from slavery and savagery, they imposed administrations they argued would bring stability and peace to a continent they regarded as a lacuna of civilisation.

But by 1945 a transformed Africa was preparing to take charge of its own affairs, beginning a process of decolonisation that would take mere twenty or so years. In the wake of the damage wrought by its colonial powers, Africa’s new masters were left to choose a path of peace and order, or to answer force with force.

Empires in the Sun is a compelling account of a vast system of exploitation that radically changed the course of world history. Within this story of the capture and recapture of Africa, James also pauses to ask: what did not happen and why?

The Author

lawrence jamesLawrence James was a founding member of the University of York and then took a research degree at Merton College, Oxford. After a distinguished teaching career he became a full-time writer in 1985 and has emerged as one of the most notable narrative historians of his generation. His works include The Rise and Fall of the British Empire, Churchill and Empire: Portrait of an Imperialist, and The Savage Wars: British Campaigns in Africa 1870-1920.





Reviews, News & Interviews:

Lawrence James is the doyen of Empire historians. Philip Hensher