Thomas Pakenham, The Scramble for Africa: The White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent, 1876-1912
In scarcely half a generation during the late 1800s, six European powers sliced up Africa like a cake. The
pieces went to Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Belgium; among them, they acquired thirty new
colonies and 110 million subjects. Although African rulers resisted, many battles were one-sided massacres.
In a dramatic, gripping chronicle, Pakenham floodlights the "dark continent" and its systematic rape by
Europe. At center stage are a motley band of explorers, politicians, evangelists, mercenaries, journalists
and tycoons blinded by romantic nationalism or caught up in the scramble for loot, markets and slaves.
Pakenham has demonstrated his ability to handle a great mass of material and a complicated subject in
a fashion that produces a readable, highly credible account. The result is a sweeping narrative,
refreshingly old fashioned in its appreciation of the fact that imperialism did have some virtues,
which offers as good an introduction to the "scramble" as has ever been written. In an epilogue
Pakenham tells how the former colonial powers still dominate the economies of the African nations,
most of which are under one-party or dictatorial rule.