The African City: A History (New Approaches to African History, Series Number 4) by Freund, Bill
Cambridge University Press, 05 March 2007
Paperback, 226 pages
This book is comprehensive both in terms of time coverage, from before the Pharaohs to the present moment and in that it tries to consider cities from the entire continent, not just Sub-Saharan Africa. Apart from factual information and rich description material culled from many sources, it looks at many issues from why urban life emerged in the first place to how present-day African cities cope in difficult times. Instead of seeing towns and cities as somehow extraneous to the real Africa, it views them as an inherent part of developing Africa, indigenous, colonial, and post-colonial and emphasizes the extent to which the future of African society and African culture will likely be played out mostly in cities. The book is written to appeal to students of history but equally to geographers, planners, sociologists and development specialists interested in urban problems.
"Bill Freund's sophisticated yet accessible book... adds to the recent growth of interest in urbanism in its multiple forms in Africa. It is alone, however, in discussing cities across the continent, rather than separating sub-Saharan and North Africa, and in including everything from the Bronze Age through modern case studies. In tone the author blends research from the social sciences and history with a frank humanism about the changing quality of life. Freund is not quick to generalize, but rather steadily underscores the diversity of origins, organizing principles, and trajectories in numerous, well-integrated examples." - International Journal of African Historical Studies
"For readers who have a desire to understand more about Africa but have little time to chase down current scholarship and research, Professor Freund has aided them by condensing a wide range of previous scholarship into a short but comprehensive look at urban life in Africa from ancient origins to the present." - World History Bulletin
"For the nonspecialist the book offers an excellent and timely review of past and continuing debates. For the uninitiated student, it creates an accessible introduction to several views into urban Africa. For the reader in search of an exhaustive continental perspective on histories of African cities, this is a great beginning."
Journal of World History, Carolyn Vieira-Martinez, Chapman University
This book gives a comprehensive picture of cities in Africa from early origins to the present.
About the Author
Bill Freund is Professor of Economic History and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is the author of many books, including The African Worker (Cambridge University Press, 1995).