David Birmingham

David Birmingham lived in Switzerland from 1947 to 1954 as a child and returned there in the 1990s as a visiting historian. From 1980 to 2001 he held the chair of Modern History in the University of Kent at Canterbury in England. He is the author of many books, including Portugal and Africa.

Listed in: History · African Studies · Biography · European Literature · Political Science · Slavery and Slave Trade · International History · European History · Travel · African History · Literary Studies

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Empire in Africa · Angola and Its Neighbors
By David Birmingham

The dark years of European fascism left their indelible mark on Africa. As late as the 1970s, Angola was still ruled by white autocrats, whose dictatorship was eventually overthrown by black nationalists who had never experienced either the rule of law or participatory democracy.

“The book is an incisive, engaging piece of scholarship punctuated with impassioned, informed commentary.”

African Studies Review




Portugal was the first European nation to assert itself aggressively in African affairs. David Birmingham's Portugal and Africa, a collection of uniquely accessible historical essays, surveys this colonial encounter from its earliest roots.

“All of these essays are written with an overriding preoccupation to communicate and to present complicated stories in a way that the reader can appreciate and assimilate. As glosses on both Angolan history and the Angolan scene over the last thirty years they are little classics, intelligent, witty, informed, and always enlightening.”

Journal of African History




Switzerland · A Village History
By David Birmingham

Switzerland: A Village History is an account of an Alpine village that illuminates the broader history of Switzerland and its rural, local underpinnings. It begins with the colonization of the Alps by Romanized Celtic peoples who came from the plain to clear the wilderness, establish a tiny monastic house, and create a dairy economy that became famous for its cheeses.

“An enthralling picture of the locality in its broader Swiss and international context. Birmingham’s mastery of the minutiae is coupled with an experienced understanding of the development of rural societies and of the complicated cultural, linguistic and political mix which was and is Switzerland. Vivid and delightful.”

English Historical Review




Kwame Nkrumah · The Father of African Nationalism
By David Birmingham

The first African statesman to achieve world recognition was Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), who became president of the new Republic of Ghana in 1960. He campaigned ceaselessly for African solidarity and for the liberation of southern Africa from white settler rule. His greatest achievement was to win the right of black peoples in Africa to have a vote and to determine their own destiny. He turned a dream of liberation into a political reality.

“This is a biographical study of one of the most complex African leaders of the twentieth century colonial era. The book admirably traces the problems Nkrumah faced as a student and aspiring politician…. The book is a colorful biography and assists the reader in understanding the tribulations and aspirations of Third World leaders in guiding their countries through the uncertain transition from colonialism to independence.”

African Studies Quarterly




This bold, popularizing synthesis presents a readily accessible introduction to one of the major themes of twentieth-century world history. Between 1922, when self-government was restored to Egypt, and 1994, when nonracial democracy was achieved in South Africa, 54 new nations were established in Africa.

“This work is an excellent introduction to the topic…. [I]t deserves a place in all college and public libraries.”

Charles W. McClellan, Radford University