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Toby Green has worked widely with academics, musicians and writers across Africa, organising events in collaboration with institutions in Angola, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique Sierra Leone and the Gambia. He has written a number of previous books, and his work has been translated into twelve languages. Awarded a 2017 Philip Leverhulme Prize in History, he is Senior Lecturer in Lusophone African History and Culture at King's College London. His 2019 book A Fistful of Shells won the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for global cultural understanding and was shortlisted for the Cundill History Prize and the inaugural Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award.
By the time of the ‘Scramble for Africa’ in the late nineteenth century, Africa had already been globally connected for many centuries. Its gold had fuelled the economies of Europe and the Islamic world since around 1000 CE, and its sophisticated kingdoms had traded with Europeans along the coasts from Senegal down to Angola since the fifteenth century. Until at least 1650, this was a trade of equals, using a variety of currencies – most importantly shells: the cowrie shells imported from the Maldives, and the nzimbu shells imported from Brazil. Toby Green’s groundbreaking new book transforms our view of West and West-Central Africa. A Fistful of Shells draws not just on written histories, but on archival research in nine countries, on art, praise-singers, oral history, archaeology, letter and the author’s personal experience to create a new perspective on the history of one of the world’s most important regions.
Why does Western pandemic policy have support across the political spectrum, when its social impacts conflict with ideology on both right and left? During the pandemic, the Left has agreed that 'following the science' with hard lockdowns is the best way to preserve life; only irresponsible right-wing populists oppose them. But social science shows that while the rich have got richer, those suffering most under lockdown are the already disadvantaged: the poor, the young, and--most overlooked of all--the Global South. The UN is predicting tens of millions of deaths from hunger and warning that decades of development are being reversed. Equally, why have conservatives backed lockdowns and other major interventions, creating the big state that they usually abhor? These contradictions within the great consensus of Western pandemic response are part of a broader crisis in Western thought. Toby Green peels back the policy paradoxes to reveal irreconcilable beliefs in our societies. These deep divisions are now bursting into the open, with devastating consequences for the global poor.
Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize, Cundill History Prize, Fage and Oliver Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award Winner of the Historical Writers' Association Non-Fiction Crown 2020 Winner of the American Historical Association's Jerry Bentley Prize in World History 2020 Winner of the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2019 An Observer and Wall Street Journal Book of the Year 2019 A groundbreaking history that will transform our view of West Africa By the time of the 'Scramble for Africa' in the late nineteenth century, Africa had already been globally connected for many centuries. Its gold had fuelled the economies of Europe and Islamic world since around 1000, and its sophisticated kingdoms had traded with Europeans along the coasts from Senegal down to Angola since the fifteenth century. Until at least 1650, this was a trade of equals, using a variety of currencies - most importantly shells: the cowrie shells imported from the Maldives, and the nzimbu shells imported from Brazil. Toby Green's groundbreaking new book transforms our view of West and West-Central Africa. It reconstructs the world of kingdoms whose existence (like those of Europe) revolved around warfare, taxation, trade, diplomacy, complex religious beliefs, royal display and extravagance, and the production of art. Over time, the relationship between Africa and Europe revolved ever more around the trade in slaves, damaging Africa's relative political and economic power as the terms of monetary exchange shifted drastically in Europe's favour. In spite of these growing capital imbalances, longstanding contacts ensured remarkable connections between the Age of Revolution in Europe and America and the birth of a revolutionary nineteenth century in Africa. A Fistful of Shells draws not just on written histories, but on archival research in nine countries, on art, praise-singers, oral history, archaeology, letters, and the author's personal experience to create a new perspective on the history of one of the world's most important regions. 'Astonishing, staggering' Ben Okri, Daily Telegraph
A journey across centuries of religious conflict Toby Green's incredible new book brings a vast panorama to life by focusing on the untold stories of individuals from all walks of life and every section of society who were affected by the Inquisition. From witches in Mexico, bigamists in Brazil, Freemasons, Hindus, Jews, Moslems and Protestants, the Inquisition reached every aspect of society. This history, though filled with stories of terror and the unspeakable ways in which human beings can treat one another, is ultimately one of hope, underscoring the resilience of the human spirit. Stretching from the unification of Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella in the fifteenth century to the Napoleanic wars, The Inquisition details this incredible history in all its richness and complexity.