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Paths in the Rainforests
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summary

Vansina’s scope is breathtaking: he reconstructs the history of the forest lands that cover all or part of southern Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Congo, Zaire, the Central African Republic, and Cabinda in Angola, discussing the original settlement of the forest by the western Bantu; the periods of expansion and innovation in agriculture; the development of metallurgy; the rise and fall of political forms and of power; the coming of Atlantic trade and colonialism; and the conquest of the rainforests by colonial powers and the destruction of a way of life.

“In 400 elegantly brilliant pages Vansina lays out five millennia of history for nearly 200 distinguishable regions of the forest of equatorial Africa around a new, subtly paradoxical interpretation of ‘tradition.’” —Joseph Miller, University of Virginia

“Vansina gives extended coverage  .  .  . to the broad features of culture and the major lines of historical development across the region between 3000 B.C. and A.D. 1000. It is truly an outstanding effort, readable, subtle, and integrative in its interpretations, and comprehensive in scope.  .  .  .  It is a seminal study  .  .  .  but it is also a substantive history that will long retain its usefulness.”—Christopher Ehret,  American Historical Review
   

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Frontmatter
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. v-viii
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  1. Maps and Figures
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xiii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xv-xvii
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  1. Note on Spelling
  2. pp. xix-xx
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  1. Chapter One: Voids and Blinders, Words and Things
  2. pp. 3-33
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  1. Chapter Two: The Land and Its Settlement
  2. pp. 35-69
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  1. Chapter Three: Tradition: Ancient and Common
  2. pp. 71-100
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  1. Chapter Four: The Trail of the Leopard in the Inner Basin
  2. pp. 101-127
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  1. Chapter Five: Between Ocean and Rivers
  2. pp. 129-165
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  1. Chapter Six: The Eastern Uplands
  2. pp. 167-196
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  1. Chapter Seven: Challenge from the Atlantic
  2. pp. 197-237
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  1. Chapter Eight: Death of a Tradition
  2. pp. 239-248
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  1. Chapter Nine: On History and Tradition
  2. pp. 249-263
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  1. Appendix: Comparative Lexical Data
  2. pp. 267-301
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 303-373
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  1. Works Cited
  2. pp. 375-409
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 411-428
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