The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay: Life in Medieval Africa

Patricia McKissack
Frederick McKissack

$ 6.68 (new)
$ 0.97 (used)

Paperback (128 pages)

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)


Editorial Description

For more than a thousand years, from A.D. 500 to 1700, the medieval kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay grew rich on the gold, salt, and slave trade that stretched across Africa. Scraping away hundreds of years of ignorance, prejudice, and mythology, award-winnnig authors Patricia and Fredrick McKissack reveal the glory of these forgotten empires while inviting us to share in the inspiring process of historical recovery that is taking place today.

Reader Reviews

A Sad Disappointment
If you're after a balanced, scholarly history of these fascinating kingdoms, regrettably this is not it.

This authors intent appears principally to raise the esteem and consciousness of pubescent Afro-Americans

Despite falling well outside the scope indicated by the title, the book includes sections on the European Atlantic slave trade as well as wild speculation that fleets of explorers from Mali may have been in contact with Meso-America.

The book is nearly saved from total uselessness by the inclusion of a bibliography, though Time-Life picture book publications feature heavily, so even this fails to do much other than disappoint.

Mali and Soghani Timbooktu was real
OK I am sick and tired of europeans thinking Africans never had a rich culture of their own. The mali dynasty was a great one that grew out of trade with saharan tribes and over the course of history grew into a sucessful and prosperous kingdom. When Europe was in the dark ages scholars like Ahmed baba was writting books,in fact over 3500 of them. I dsiagree with the contact of the meso american cultures,but there is proof in arabic manuscrips that africans was able to sail to the new word. The evidence shows that their is a genous of plantains that grow in brazil called musa x. The name of a king in Mali was musa,and ibn battua an norther african scholar traveled all around the islamic worls and told about the wealth of the african people here. By the way my friend from australia have you been to mali i have I am also white by the way

Ghana, Mali, and Songhay: Medieval Africa
This is an awesome book. I had purchased this book many years ago at a homeschool curriculum fair because I have a friend who is from Ghana. I did not know, at the time, that medieval Ghana is not the same as present day Ghana.

I student taught 7th grade social studies and science this past fall semester and I relied on this book quite a bit to teach the origins of sub-Saharan trading. The few textbooks we had in class gave very little detail about this critical time in Africa's history and I wanted to expand the students' knowledge about Africa's trading routes and slave trading.

I would highly recommend this book as a classroom reference or as an informative book on the kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Sonhay.

Good introduction to West African history
I find that the book is a good introduction to the study of the history of the West African kingdoms. However, it does not give much more than that; little is told about the daily lives of the people, which is what really interests me about any period in history. In addition, I found that the book focuses a bit too much on the mythology, which, let's face it, sounds strange to modern American children, reinforcing the notion that Africans are primitive. The book also does not give enough pictures of what anything or anyone from the kingdoms looked like, forcing the reader to imagine the visuals, which are bound to look more like modern cartoon depictions of Africa than the actual kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay.

That being said, if you have children who are interested in learning a little bit about African history, this book is a good start. It gives bits of information that you don't get in your history classes, even those that teach world history. I learned about these kingdoms way back in the 7th grade, but even then I did not learn that there were Europeans who went to African universities in the Middle Ages, which is quite a switch from today's world. That little fact is powerful, because it forces the question of what happened to Africa that resulted in the widespread poverty, disease, malnutrition, and war we hear about so much in the news today.

Since I am not African-American and do not know many people who are, I am unable to judge with any certainty whether the book is good for enhancing the self-esteem of African-American children (which seems to be one of the purposes of this book). However, I can say that the book is a good introduction to West African history for anyone, regardless of race or age.

Great place to start ...
This book is short and relatively simplistic in its explanations. You would not want to use it as the pillar to your dissertation on Malian history. Nevertheless, it does give a good general introduction to West African history and the great kingdoms that once flourished by the Niger River.

It starts with the creation myths, and then chronologically, explains very simply the beginnings and endings of the kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhaim. It addresses the mingling of the native religion with Islam, and ends with the downfall of the kingdoms. It also briefly addresses the issue of slavery.

I bought this about a month before visiting a friend who is doing research in Bamako (the Capital of Mali). I vaguely recollected learning about a chapter's worth in seventh grade about the Saharan trade routes and something about Ghana and Songhai and Timbuktu, but could not remember much more than the names of the kingdoms.

This book was excellent, in giving me enough background to be able to appreciate the depth of the history and the people when I visited. That being said, this is an excellent place to START learning about West African history - but hopefully, it is not where you will end your learning, as there are other resources out there that give much deeper and more thorough information about this great region.