Bearing the Burdens, Reaping the Rewards: Who Benefits from Africa's National Parks?,
By Kallie Szczepanski
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Abstract: Over the past two decades, historians, geographers, and conservationists have written a number of books exploring the dark tangle of motivations behind Africa’s great parks, and the long-standing injustices that continue to bedevil relations between park authorities and the displaced, now park-adjacent, local communities. Five books stand out for their insight, fresh perspective, or in one case, quaintly anachronistic outlook. They are Imposing Wilderness: Struggles over Livelihood and Nature Preservation in Africa by Roderick P. Neumann, The Kruger National Park: A Social and Political History by Jane Carruthers, Jan Bender Shetler’s Imagining Serengeti: A History of Landscape Memory in Tanzania from Earliest Times to the Present, The Myth of Wild Africa: Conservation without Illusion by Jonathan S. Adams and Thomas O. McShane, and Paradise Lost: A History of Game Preservation in East Africa by Thomas P. Ofcansky. Some of the books under review are more successful than others in offering a balanced and relatively objective view, but together, these five works form a fairly complete picture of the early history and modern problems of African national parks.