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A Fistful of Shells West Africa from the Rise of the Slave

Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize Cundill History Prize Fage and Oliver Prize the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award Winner of the Nayef Al Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2019'Astonishing staggering' Ben Okri Daily TelegraphA groundbreaking history that will transform our view of West AfricaBy the time of the 'Scramble for Africa' in the late nineteenth century Africa had already been globally connected for many centuries Its gold had fuelled the economies of Europe and Islamic world since around 1000 and its sophisticated kingdoms had traded with Europeans along the coasts from Senegal down to Angola since the fifteenth century Until at least 1650 this was a trade of equals using a variety of currencies most importantly shells the cowrie shells imported from the Maldives and the nzimbu shells imported from BrazilToby Green's groundbreaking new book transforms our view of West and West Central Africa It reconstructs the world of kingdoms whose existence like those of Europe revolved around warfare taxation trade diplomacy complex religious beliefs royal display and extravagance and the production of artOver time the relationship between Africa and Europe revolved everaround the trade in slaves damaging Africa's relative political and economic power as the terms of monetary exchange shifted drastically in Europe's favour In spite of these growing capital imbalances longstanding contacts ensured remarkable connections between the Age of Revolution in Europe and America and the birth of a revolutionary nineteenth century in Africa A Fistful of Shells draws not just on written histories but on archival research in nine countries on art praise singers oral history archaeology letters and the author's personal experience to create a new perspective on the history of one of the world's most important regionsShortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize Cundill History Prize Fage and Oliver Prize the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award Winner of the Nayef Al Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2019'Astonishing staggering' Ben Okri Daily TelegraphA groundbreaking history that will transform our view of West AfricaBy the time of the 'Scramble for Africa' in the late nineteenth century Africa had already been globally connected for many centuries Its gold had fuelled the economies of Europe and Islamic world since around 1000 and its sophisticated kingdoms had traded with Europeans along the coasts from Senegal down to Angola since the fifteenth century Until at least 1650 this was a trade of equals using a variety of currencies most importantly shells the cowrie shells imported from the Maldives and the nzimbu shells imported from BrazilToby Green's groundbreaking new book transforms our view of West and West Central Africa It reconstructs the world of kingdoms whose existence like those of Europe revolved around warfare taxation trade diplomacy complex religious beliefs royal display and extravagance and the production of artOver time the relationship between Africa and Europe revolved everaround the trade in slaves damaging Africa's relative political and economic power as the terms of monetary exchange shifted drastically in Europe's favour In spite of these growing capital imbalances longstanding contacts ensured remarkable connections between the Age of Revolution in Europe and America and the birth of a revolutionary nineteenth century in Africa A Fistful of Shells draws not just on written histories but on archival research in nine countries on art praise singers oral history archaeology letters and the author's personal experience to create a new perspective on the history of one of the world's most important regionsShortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize Cundill History Prize Fage and Oliver Prize the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award Winner of the Nayef Al Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2019'Astonishing staggering' Ben Okri Daily TelegraphA groundbreaking history that will transform our view of West AfricaBy the time of the 'Scramble for Africa' in the late nineteenth century Africa had already been globally connected for many centuries Its gold had fuelled the economies of Europe and Islamic world since around 1000 and its sophisticated kingdoms had traded with Europeans along the coasts from Senegal down to Angola since the fifteenth century Until at least 1650 this was a trade of equals using a variety of currencies most importantly shells the cowrie shells imported from the Maldives and the nzimbu shells imported from BrazilToby Green's groundbreaking new book transforms our view of West and West Central Africa It reconstructs the world of kingdoms whose existence like those of Europe revolved around warfare taxation trade diplomacy complex religious beliefs royal display and extravagance and the production of artOver time the relationship between Africa and Europe revolved everaround the trade in slaves damaging Africa's relative political and economic power as the terms of monetary exchange shifted drastically in Europe's favour In spite of these growing capital imbalances longstanding contacts ensured remarkable connections between the Age of Revolution in Europe and America and the birth of a revolutionary nineteenth century in Africa A Fistful of Shells draws not just on written histories but on archival research in nine countries on art praise singers oral history archaeology letters and the author's personal experience to create a new perspective on the history of one of the world's most important regions