Outstanding Academic Titles of 2010: Cambridge History of South Africa: Vol. I

cover Cambridge History of South AfricaPart One of The Cambridge History of South Africa: From Early Times to 1885 by Leiden historian Robert Ross et al. has been included on this year’s American Library Association’s list of Outstanding Academic Titles. This prestigious list is published in Choice, the most important publication targeting academic libraries in the US. The January (print and online) issue of the journal always publishes a list of Outstanding Academic Titles taken from titles that were reviewed in the previous year but the list is quite selective and of the more than 25,000 titles submitted, fewer than 3% were selected.

The work by Ross and his colleagues, which was published in 2010, presents a new perspective on the history of South Africa. Part One covers the period up to 1885 and Part Two, which is scheduled to appear in July 2011, will deal with the period from 1885 to 1994, the year that marked the end of apartheid.

Coming fifteen years after the introduction of majority rule in South Africa, this book takes a critical look at the country's past. With contributions from ten South African historians, it weaves together new data, interpretations and perspectives on the country’s past, from the Early Iron Age to the eve of the mineral revolution on the Rand, and offers an important reassessment of all of South Africa’s major historical events and developments.

Ross: ‘The book offers a good overview of the colonial history of South Africa, a period that was marked by invasions and conquests, with the enormous violence that this entails. The study also clearly shows how the country struggled with the new phenomena and ideas which were brought by the Europeans. For instance conversion to Christianity, which was a laborious process. All this has led to South Africans still struggling, to this day, with their identity. Who am I? How does the world work? These are the issues we wanted to address in the book.’
The Cambridge History of South Africa has recently been added to the collection in the African Studies Centre’s Library.

Katrien Polman
February 2011