Subject: African history. Publication date: 1990. Condition: The cover has some wear, with scuffing along the spine, and a crease across the front top corner. There is a light stain on the edges of the pages. Internally, the book is in very good condition - clean and tight. Content: In 400 elegantly brilliant pages Vansina lays out five millennia of history for nearly 200 distinguishable regions of the forest of equatorial Africa around a new, subtly paradoxical interpretation of tradition. As Vansina explains in Paths in the Rainforests, this is a vast region of remarkable if often subtle variety, cultural as well as ecological. The book incorporates his thinking about the Western Bantu people and their radiation on this side long before the Iron Age, and demonstrates a history of agriculture, together with varied types of hunting and gathering, over several millennia. From now Anglophone historians who scan the continent from east to west no longer have an excuse for merely skirting around the forest edge and pretending that there is nothing diachronically tangible within that zone. Vansina invites us to penetrate, pointing out the clear, if winding, paths between the trees and a luxuriant intellectual environment to be enjoyed. This is the mature work of a lifetime spent following the paths through the rain forest by slogging study and by personal fieldwork. For a social anthropologist the really impressive thing is the systematic use of high tech resources to supplement the poor and patchy record of a region which is supposed to have no history. This is undoubtedly a very important book and it deserves to provoke a lot of serious controversy.