Anthony Sattin

In the realms of gold

Mali’s goldfields were already legendary by the 14th century, but the more West African states traded with Europe, the poorer most of them became

A thought kept recurring as I read Toby Green’s fascinating and occasionally frustrating book on the development of West Africa from the 15th to 19th centuries: that the money in my pocket was just a piece of polypropylene. And what is that worth in the greater scheme of things?

The thought occured because money and its predecessor, barter goods, play a central role in the story Green has to tell in this monumental volume.

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