Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone

We’ve all heard that iconic line, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” This book by Martin Dugard tells the fascinating story behind that famous meeting of Henry Stanley and David Livingstone. It was the 1870s, and perhaps the last great geographic mystery left to the world was the question of where the Nile River originates. Theories abounded, and several explorers met premature ends searching for the source of the river. By far the greatest explorer involved in the quest was Dr. Livingstone, a superstar for his adventures in the then largely unknown continent of Africa, who set off in search of the source in 1866. Time passed, with no word from the explorer. As the years ticked by, rumors swirled about his fate. British bureaucracy and inertia derailed all but a couple of half-hearted attempts at locating him.
Finally, around 1871, an American newspaper that was on the ropes and eager to grab readers launched its own clandestine rescue operation. Reporter Henry Stanley was tasked not only with finding Livingstone, but keeping his expedition’s goal from the British, who would likely try to beat him to the stranded explorer and in the process ruin the news story.
What unfolded in the heart of Africa is a fascinating story of human endurance, the miseries of racial exploitation, and the bonds people form.


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