By John Reader
Drawing on a long time of African adventure, John Reader has written a booklet of startling grandeur and scope that recreates the nice landscape of African historical past, from the primeval cataclysms that shaped the continent to the political upheavals dealing with a lot of the continent this present day. Reader tells the intense tale of humankind's model to the ferocious stumbling blocks of woodland, river and barren region, and to the specter of debilitating parasites, micro organism and viruses unrivaled in different places on the planet. He additionally indicates how the world's richest collection of animals and crops has helped - or hindered - human growth in Africa.
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Extra resources for Africa: A Biography of the Continent
Where an oak had fallen across the water, I stowed my paddle, lay back in the boat and pulled myself under the branches. The water was so clear that I seemed to be drifting through air. I could see every speck and fibre on the bed. But not only did I spot no fish, I saw no life of any kind: no beetles, skaters, nymphs or shrimps. No dragonflies patrolled the banks, no caddis or mayflies danced over the water. Perhaps this stream had passed through old lead mines. Lead has been worked here since the Romans, and even mines abandoned many years ago produce effluvia so toxic that almost nothing survives in the water it contaminates.
A platoon of oystercatchers in black and white uniforms, wings clamped smartly to their sides, turned as one body and marched across the sand as I approached. I saw the reflection of the spear on the water, and I was struck by a thought that had not occurred to me before: I was restoring the kayak to its original function. Both the technology and the name have been – like anorak and parka – borrowed from Arctic peoples. Just as I stalked the edges of the sandbanks with my harpoon, they patrolled the margins of the ice-floes.
An ancient woman wearing iridescent ski goggles and a blanket over her knees was riding her electric wheelchair at full tilt. Sand spurted from the wheels. She skidded around in tight circles, jolted forward and fishtailed through the ruts left by the cars. Someone’s heart was still beating. I looked across the rivermouth. It was dead low tide. On the sea this would be called low-water slack, but in the estuary there is no slack: water runs in odd directions throughout the cycle. Two broad channels and a web of creeks, some connected, some blind, cut through a desert of sand.