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Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire: Al-Sa'Di's Ta'Rikh Al-Sudan Down to 1613 and Other Contemporary Documents [Paperback]

By John O. Hunwick (Editor)
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Item description for Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire: Al-Sa'Di's Ta'Rikh Al-Sudan Down to 1613 and Other Contemporary Documents by John O. Hunwick...

The principal text translated in this volume is the "Ta'rikh Al'sudan" of the 17th century Timbuktu scholar 'Abd al-Rahman al-Sa'di. Thirty chapters are included, dealing with the history of Timbuktu and Jenne, their scholars and the political history of the Songhay empire from the reign of Sunni 'Ali (1464-1492) through Moroccan conquest of Songhay in 1591 and down to the year 1613 when the Pashalik of Timbuktu became an autonomous ruling institution in the Middle Niger region. The year 1613 also marked the effective end of Songhay resistance. The other contemporary documents included are a new English translation of Leo Africanus's description of West Africa, some letters relating to Sa-dian diplomacy and conquests in the Sahara and Sahel, al-Ifrani's account of Sa-dian conquest of Songhay, and an account of this expedition by an anonymous Spaniard.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Brill Academic Publishers
Pages   488
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.75"
Weight:   1.88 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2003
Publisher   Brill Academic Publishers
ISBN  9004128220  
ISBN13  9789004128224  

Availability  0 units.

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1Books > Subjects > History > Africa > Sudan
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Reviews - What do customers think about Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire: Al-Sa'Di's Ta'Rikh Al-Sudan Down to 1613 and Other Contemporary Documents?

A must for West African historians who can't read Arabic  May 20, 2006
Even though I have the Arabic text on order Es sadi's "Tarikh Es Sudan" ("History of the Land of the Blacks") in English is a good resource for those don't read Arabic or French. For most people the book will be one of finding snippets here and there during historical research and the footnotes are a good help in connecting the history with other events to which they are linked. As another reviewer mentioned this is not exactly one of those books you read from cover to finish. You also have to adjust to having to use the notes quite a bit, but that is not the fault of John O. Hunwick, but is how the Tarikh es-Soudan is in Arabic. The book has good maps and supporting texts to add to the text. I would suggest that every person wanting to get a clear picture from West African and Arab sources about some of the events that led to the Songhay empire's rise and fall this is a goo resource for that.
Missing Link to West African History  Oct 28, 2003
Es sadi's "Tarikh Es Sudan" ("History of the Land of the Blacks") has obtained a legendary staus among those interested in African history. It was written after the fall of the Songhay Empire in the 1600s about the kings and events leading up to that event, and no English translations have been available until now, thanks to Dr. John O. Hunwick of Northwestern University.

The result is an interesting narrative with a cast of characters that include some familiar names to African history fans such as Mansa Musa, Sunni Ali (referred to in this book as "the tyrant"), Askia Muhammad, and the scholar Ahmed Baba, as well as many more obscure historical figues and events. (Surprisingly, Sundiata the original Lion King is only mentioned in passing in a footnote).

However, the casual reader with a beginning knowledge of Ancient Africna history should be warned that this is not for beginners or lay historians. Dr. Hunwick, in a noble effort to make this understandable, fills the text with footnotes and phonetic pronunciation of the Islamic names and concepts. Plus, the original language of the text is quite labored for the casual reader and while Dr. Hunwick tries with this, it's still a pretty rough read for the beginner.

For the avid African historian, this is great stuff which is filled new and important information. The layman may want to start with such things as the recent translation of Ibn Battuta's accounts of his travels in precolonial Africa or D.T. Niane's account of the Sundiata epic (as well as reading the Quaran) to get a feel for this kind of material before moving on to this. Also, it is important to know that the Islamic writers of that era (Middle Ages) were very ethnocentic and scornful of pre-Islamic African cultures, so be prepared for that kind of bias.

But with all that said, go for it. It's an extremely valuable piece of history.


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