The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture
By Patrick Manning
Columbia University Press, 2009, 424 pp.
There are one billion Africans and people of African descent in the world. Manning's comprehensive history of the world's black population since the beginning of the fifteenth century focuses much of its attention on the slave trade and its effects on the countries in which slaves ended up. It is particularly informative on the organization of the slave trade and its economic effects in the New World, although it also has much to say about African slavery on the shores of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, the impact of the slave trade on Africa itself, and slavery's role in the emergence of a global black identity and culture. The book's thorough and well-documented history of slavery is perhaps more compelling than its more superficial review of the twentieth century, including the U.S. civil rights movement and African decolonization. But readers will be impressed by the book's breadth and the arresting parallels it draws between events and dynamics taking place thousands of miles apart.