The Fortunes of Africa

A 5000-Year History of Wealth, Greed, and Endeavor
Narrated by: Kevin Stillwell
Length: 26 hrs and 36 mins
Categories: History, World
4.5 out of 5 stars (63 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping history of the fortune seekers, adventurers, despots, and thieves who have ruthlessly endeavored to extract gold, diamonds, and other treasures from Africa and its people.

Africa has been coveted for its rich natural resources ever since the era of the pharaohs. In past centuries, it was the lure of gold, ivory, and slaves that drew merchant-adventurers and conquerors from afar. In modern times, the focus of attention is on oil, diamonds, and other rare earth minerals.

In this vast and vivid panorama of history, Martin Meredith follows the fortunes of Africa over a period of 5,000 years. With compelling narrative, he traces the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms and empires; the spread of Christianity and Islam; the enduring quest for gold and other riches; the exploits of explorers and missionaries; and the impact of European colonization. He examines, too, the fate of modern African states and concludes with a glimpse of their future.

His cast of characters includes religious leaders, mining magnates, warlords, dictators, and many other legendary figures - among them Mansa Musa, ruler of the medieval Mali empire, said to be the richest man the world has ever known. 

©2014 Martin Meredith (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A gripping tale of insatiable greed-personal and collective." (Booklist)

"[A] broad-ranging history of Africa from the age of the pharaohs to the present, with a solid emphasis on economics...richly detailed...a useful study." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Mr. Meredith artfully weaves together exploration, trade, and geography in a narrative that is both detailed and arresting.... [He] leaves the reader bursting with a wealth of facts." (The Economist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Worthy of your time

Fast moving , would like more depth on tribalism., my only complaint. such rampant corruption it'll make you cry.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Full of information, sometimes disorganized

Great book for someone seeking a better understanding of colonialism, African history, early modern history and modern African instability and corruption.

Author often skips randomly from one topic to another though, which can be at times perplexing and unusual.

Overall though, impressive piece of literature spanning a long period. Happy to have had the fortune to purchase and listen to this.

The narrator is excellent.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

You will feel 5000 years old.

This book the narrator is very good and it tells you why we have different world. Why Africa is the way it is why Western country are richer than African countries. At the end you will understand that the author is saying Africa were better the colonial time than now. Which you will not agree.

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Sad when it ended. Truly amazing.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It left me with such a profound sadness at the end, not just that this book was ending, the narrator did an amazing job. Just the history, the hope that came from post colonial rule to where we are now is so utterly depressing. I am very happy to know this all now, do yourself a favor and listen to this, it should be mandatory reading for humanity.

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Long, long better as a reference

This is a great work, but it’s so long and covers so much ground that I’d prefer it in book form where you can skip around and use as a reference rather than as a listen experience

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Fascinating, though terrible

This audio book was very difficult to understand. Not because it is confusing, but because I lacked even the basic knowledge of Africa's geography and history. The author cites locations, such as cities, regions and even countries that I simply never heard before, so I had to pause and check it out several times. Get at least one map before starting it.

The content is pretty fascinating. It seems like hearing a story about a fictional world, because of the many many completely new history info I never had before. I can't say I will remember names, dates, faces and places, but at least now I have a sense to what I see in the news. At least... Africa isn't just pictures of hungry children and dictators for me anymore.

#historyspoiler
But it is rough to listen. When the author says that Egypt would not be ruled by an Egyptian until the 20th century, things get soured. And it keeps get worse literally until the last paragraph. Be prepared to feel frustrated, angry, humiliated and useless.