This Day in History 720
I mention “History” in my blurb as something that I plan to discuss, but I dont think I really have. I realize history is a departure from the whole geek theme that I have developed here… but is it? Historians are really as geeky as it gets. They find a super specific sub culture, and dive into it with everything they have, and then want to share it with everyone, be they interested or not. So, what I plan to do is one post once a week simply discussing (breifly) what I am reading.
First up John Thornton’s seminal book Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800. Thorton’s book is a drastic departure from previous, Eurocentric historography of Atlantic history in the retelling of the African slave trade. His Africa focused approach, combined with his assumptions that Africans had a powerful role to play in the slave trade, not simply victims, and his belief that African culture not only survived the middle passage, but prospered and evolved once slaves arrived in the new world, were truly game changers in the History profession when this book was published in 1992. He presents a comprehensive, easy to understand argument, heavily sourced, and not bogged down in jargon.
I tend to base a history books readability and accessibility on whom I would recommend this too, I used to use my Dad, a non-academic, non reader, as a base, if he could understand it and enjoy it, then anyone could. Really, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in either African history or slavery, but there would need to be some academic interested, I dont think my dear old Dad, or a very casual reader would be able to keep interested. Too many historians can get bogged down in their own grandiose, creating works that even seasoned historians struggle with. John Thornton is not that type of historian.
This Day in History 720 is a weekly post chronicling the readings in my graduate history course, while examining the history geek culture.