Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mini-Reviews: College Reading Part 1

These are all nonfiction books that, while not standard textbooks, were required for my classes this semester.

Ibn Battuta in Black Africa ed. by Said Hamdun and Noel King
2005; read for Survey of African Civilizations
Ibn Battuta was a North African Arab scholar who made extensive travels throughout Muslim lands during the 14th century. His full account has been published, though this edition focuses on only two portions of his journey. The book was fairly interesting and clear to read, but I felt like I lacked the knowledge of the underlying geographical and historical backgrounds to make this a truly informative read. The footnotes didn't provide much help to my understanding, either.

Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman by Marjorie Shostak
1981; read for General Anthropology
Nisa, part autobiographical narrative and part ethnography, has long been a classic text for introductory anthropology courses. Once you read it, it's not hard to see why - it's a very readable and engaging look at another culture. Through Nisa's story, Shostak traces a fairly typical life for a woman of the Khoisan people in southern Africa. The book is fascinating for culture enthusiasts, and it also provides a gentle, clear introduction to the field for people less familiar with it.

The Two Princes of Calabar by Randy J. Sparks
2004; also read for Survey of African Civilizations
The Two Princes in question provide an interesting case from the Atlantic slave trade; they were African slave traders themselves but were captured and taken to the Americas and then to Britain during the late 1760s and early '70s. The book provides both an account of their journey and how it fits into the trans-Atlantic trade and British abolitionist efforts at that time. It's a fascinating case study, and at around 150 pages of easily-understood writing it's also a pretty quick and informative read.

No comments:

Post a Comment