Zanzibar Books

We often get asked which books we would recommend. In association with and , we are happy to suggest a hand-picked selection of travel guides, reference books, travelogues and music. All titles relate to Zanzibar, Tanzania, East Africa, or Africa as a whole. Please click on the relevant title/s for more details and ordering information.

The Scramble for Africa
Thomas Pakenham

The scramble for Africa astonished everyone. In 1880 most of the continent was still ruled by Africans and barely explored. By 1902, five European Powers had grabbed almost the whole continent, giving themselves 30 new colonies and protectorates and 10 million square miles of land. The inspiration came from the heroic death in 1873 of the missionary-explorer, David Linvingstone. He had exposed the horrors of the slave trade still in progress. His call for Africa to be redeemed by the three “C”s – commerce, Christianity and civilisation – was aimed at the conscience of the civilized world. The response came from rival colonial enthusiasts in Europe. There were journalist-explorers like Henry Stanley, sailor-explorers like Pierre de Brazza (who gave his name to Brazzaville and its beach) and gold and diamond tycoons like Cecil Rhodes. As the race gathered momentum, a fourth “C” – Conquest – became dominant. The Maxim gun, not trade or the cross, became the symbol of the age. In many colonies atrocities were commonplace. This is the history of this episode.

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Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar
Emily Ruete

This book contains the memoirs of Emily (Sayyida) Ruete, a Nineteenth Century Arabian princess. It is a fascinating tale of childhood and living conditions within the harem in Nineteenth Century Zanzibar. The book is unique in that Sayyida was one of the very few princesses who learned to write, hence other princesses were not able to record their experiences. It is refreshing to read an insider’s report of harem life rather than the strange misinterpretations of short-term foreign visitors. The book also contains firsthand accounts of political intrigue, which will be of interest to students of Zanzibari or Omani history.
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Historical Zanzibar
Professor Abdul Sheriff

Zanzibar, island metropolis, was the gateway to East Africa in the nineteenth century. Traders, explorers and missionaries passed through its portals on their way to the heart of Africa. Many of them left a record of their impressions of this incredible place – written, graphic and photographic. The book offers a selection of some of the unique photographs from the Zanzibar Archives and other collections, which have survived from Zanzibar’s fascinating past. It is said a photograph speaks a thousand words. These photographs illuminate different aspects of life in this bustling city as it was – centre of commerce, diplomacy and learning. They tell an amazing story.
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A Short History of Africa

In this classic work, the authors have drawn on the whole range of literature about Africa, and on the evidence provided by archaeology, oral traditions, langauage relationships and social institutions. It not only marshals the most authoritative view of African specialists into an absorbing narrative, but also puts forward original conclusions that take the study of Africa a further stage.
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Empires of the Monsoon
Richard Hall

Until Vasco da Gama discovered the sea-route to the East in 1497-9 almost nothing was known in the West of the exotic cultures and wealth of the Indian Ocean and its peoples. It is this civilization and its destruction at the hands of the West that Richard Hall recreates in this book. Hall’s history of the exploration and exploitation by Chinese and Arab travellers, and by the Portuguese, Dutch and British alike is one of brutality, betrayal and colonial ambition. An amazing read, unlike any other history book you’ll ever see!
!!! highly recomended !!!
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