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New Book, Falola, A History of West Africa

A History of West Africa | © December 2023 | ISBN: 9781032055947

By Toyin Falola


This book introduces readers to the rich and fascinating history of West Africa, stretching all the way back to the stone age, and right up to the modern day.

Over the course of twenty-seven short and engaging chapters, the book delves into the social, cultural, economic and political history of West Africa, through prehistory, revolutions, ancient empires, thriving trade networks, religious traditions, and then the devastating impact of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and subsequent colonial rule. The book reflects on the struggle for independence and investigates how politics and economics developed in the post-colonial period. By the end of the book, readers will have a detailed understanding of the fascinating and diverse range of cultures to be found in West Africa, and of how the region relates to the rest of the world.

Drawing on decades of teaching and research experience, this book will serve as an excellent textbook for entry-level History and African Studies courses, as well as providing a perfect general introduction to anyone interested in finding out about West Africa.





  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Writing West African History
  • Chapter 3: Geography, Landscape, and Composition


  • Chapter 4: Evolutions and Revolutions
  • Chapter 5: Societies and Cultures in the Iron Age
  • Chapter 6: The Trans-Saharan Trade in West Africa
  • Chapter 7: States and Empires
  • Chapter 8: Domestic Economies
  • Chapter 9: Traditional Religions


  • Chapter 10: Islam in West Africa
  • Chapter 11: Christianity in West Africa
  • Chapter 12: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
  • Chapter 13: Economy and Society: External Commerce
  • Chapter 14: Transformations and Revolutions in the Nineteenth Century
  • Chapter 15: The Nineteenth Century Jihads in West Africa


  • Chapter 16: Colonial Rule and Its Impact
  • Chapter 17: West Africa and the World Wars (1914-1919) and (1940-1945)
  • Chapter 18: Nationalism and Independence
  • Chapter 19: The Road to Independence in West Africa



  • Chapter 20: Postcolonial Politics
  • Chapter 21: Economies and Development
  • Chapter 22: Postcolonial Cultures
  • Chapter 23: Cultural Changes and Popular Cultures
  • Chapter 24: Religions and Religious Changes
  • Chapter 25: Contemporary West African Identities
  • Chapter 26: West Africa and the Wider World
  • Chapter 27: Trajectories and Projections on the Future of West Africa



Toyin Falola, Ph.D. is the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities and University Distinguished Teaching Professor, Department of History, The University of Texas at Austin. He is the recipient of many distinguished awards, including sixteen honorary doctorates.


Find More:  https://www.routledge.com/A-History-of-West-Africa/Falola/p/book/9781032055947

At a first glance, it will appear as if Falola’s new fascinating book simply illustrates the popular saying by George Orwell that “The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.” However, and most significantly, what makes this particular work so insightful and unique is that one is able to learn about the history of West Africa through the prisms of Falola’s multiple visits, interactions and researches conducted for several decades across the sub-region coupled with his long years of teaching, examining and writing about West Africa. This book is a quintessential primer for bringing the knowledge of West Africa to mature students and the general readers.

Koya OgenProfessor of History, Osun State University and former Provost, College of Education, Ondo

This comprehensive textbook on West Africa offers a deep exploration of the region’s history. With its engaging writing style, extensive research, and insightful analysis, it is an invaluable resource for students and educators alike, providing a window into the historical forces that have shaped the region and beyond. This teaching resource is a must-read for teachers interested in helping students obtain a deeper understanding of the region’s cultures, economies, politics, and identities.

Henry LovejoyDirector of the Digital Slavery Research Lab, University of Colorado Boulder

Scholars and students alike will actually enjoy reading this invaluable book and will keep returning to it as a deep well. Falola covers major ecological, economic, and political transformations over the longue durée in West Africa while also enlivening history with attention to people’s daily lives, pastimes, and priorities—food, art, aging, schooling, and other topics. With a detailed timeline, a thoughtful structure, and spotlights on important West African thinkers, this book is an engaging and usable text that will serve generations to come. 

Shobana Shankar, Professor of History, Stony Brook University

Professor Toyin Falola, the most prolific historian of our time, has brought a sublime finality to West African history text. Scholars in various fields of studying, teaching, and writing West Africa will find this a most useful book to adopt.

Kwabena Akurang-ParryPhD (Visiting Scholar) Professor of African History, Heritage Studies & World History, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana

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