Eminent historian Lawrence James narrates how between 1830 and 1945, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal and Italy exported their languages, laws, culture, religions, scientific and technical knowledge and economic systems to Africa. The colonial powers imposed administrations designed to bring stability and peace to a continent that seemed to lack both. The justification for emancipation from slavery (and occupation) was the common assumption that the late nineteenth-century Europe was the summit of civilization. This magnificent history also pauses to ask: what did not happen and why?

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