West African Kingdoms Empires Of Gold and Trade (Ancient Civilizations)

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This quick, attractive photo-essay in the Ancient Civilizations series introduces the great ancient kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai in all their diverse geography, wildlife, peoples, languages, and cultures. Reece focuses strongly on gold trade, education centers, religions, and rulers--from the Berbers who ruled the Kingdom of Ghana in the fourth century to Mohammed Aski, who in 1493 in the kingdom of Songhai embraced Islam. A final chapter looks at the people today. The chatty text is sometimes too exclamatory, and a there's one statement that signals a European perspective: "The area remained undiscovered and wrapped in mystery for centuries because it was difficult to cross such a vast ocean of sand." (Undiscovered by whom? The people who lived there?) But the book is both informative and attractive, the type is clear and readable, and colorful sidebars and photos on every page add interest as well as additional facts. Other new titles in the series include The Egyptians and The Mesopotamians. Hazel Rochman