Of all prehistoric monuments, few are more emotive than the great stone circles that were built throughout Britain and Ireland. From the tall, elegant, pointed monoliths of the Stones of Stenness to the grandeur of Stonehenge and the sarsen blocks at Avebury, circles of stone exert a magnetic fascination to those who venture into their sphere. In Britain today, more people visit these structures than any other form of prehistoric monument and visitors stand in awe at their scale and question how and why they were erected. Building the Great Stone Circles of the North looks at the enigmatic stone structures of Scotland and investigates the background of their construction and their cultural significance.
Africa supplies the majority of the world’s diamonds, yet consumers generally know little about the origins and history of these precious stones beyond sensationalized media accounts of so-called blood diamonds. Stones of Contention explores the major developments in the remarkable history of Africa’s diamonds, from the earliest stirrings of international interest in the continent’s mineral wealth in the first millennium A.D. to the present day. In the European colonial period, the discovery of diamonds in South Africa ushered in an era of unprecedented greed during which monopolistic enterprises exploited both the mineral resources and the indigenous workforce. In the aftermath of World War II, the governments of newly independent African states, both democratic and despotic, joined industry giant De Beers and other corporations to oversee and profit from mining activity on the continent. The book also considers the experiences of a wide array of Africans — from informal artisanal miners, company mineworkers, and indigenous authorities to armed rebels, mining executives, and premiers of mineral-rich states — and their relationships to the stones that have the power to bring both wealth and misery. With photos and maps, Stones of Contention illustrates the scope and complexity of the African diamond trade as well as its impact on individuals and societies.