The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780–1850

by Philip D. Curtin, M.A., Ph.D., Professor of History, University of Wisconsin. xvii + 526 pages, illustrated. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin. 1964. $8.00

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  • Department of Tropical Medicine and Public Health Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana

Books on Africa are emerging at the same speed as nations of this continent. The Image of Africa is written by a distinguished historian. It is a first class reference book for West Africa and an outstanding product of the trend towards our history of ideas. In fact The Image of Africa describes the British Image of West Africa between 1780 and 1850.

The tropical diseases and their influence on European exploitation in West Africa are dealt with extensively in the chapters on The African's Place in Nature, The Promise and Terror of a Tropical Environment, The Problem of Survival, Tropical Medicine and the Victory of Empiricism as well as in an Appendix on Mortality in West Africa. Pseudo-scientific racism which flowered especially in the XIXth century is analyzed through the entire book and especially in the chapters on Barbarism, Its Physical and Moral Causes and the Racists and Their Opponents.