With the utterance of a single line-"Doctor Livingstone, I presume "-a remote meeting in the heart of Africa was transformed into one of the most famous encounters in exploration history. But the true story behind Dr. David Livingstone and journalist Henry Morton Stanley is one that has escaped telling. Into Africa is an extraordinarily researched account of a thrilling adventure-defined by alarming foolishness, intense courage, and raw human achievement.In the mid-1860s, exploration had reached a plateau. The seas and continents had been mapped, the globe circumnavigated. Yet one vexing puzzle remained unsolved: what was the source of the mighty Nile river Aiming to settle the mystery once and for all, Great Britain called upon its legendary explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, who had spent years in Africa as a missionary. In March 1866, Livingstone steered a massive expedition into the heart of Africa. In his path lay nearly impenetrable, uncharted terrain, hostile cannibals, and deadly predators.
It is rare when a historical narrative keeps readers up late into the night, especially when the story is as well known as Henry Morgan Stanley's search for the missionary and explorer David Livingstone. But author and adventurer Dugard, who's written a biography of Capt. James Cook among other works, makes a suspenseful tale out of journalist Stanley's successful trek through the African interior to find and rescue a stranded Livingstone. Dugan has read extensively in unpublished diaries, newspapers of the time and the archives of Britain's Royal Geographical Society; he also visited the African locations central to the story. Together these sources enable him to re-create with immediacy the astounding hardships, both natural and manmade, that Africa put in the path of the two central characters. Dugard also presents thoughtful insights into the psychology of both Stanley and Livingstone, whose respective responses to Africa could not have differed more. Stanley was bent on beating Africa with sheer force of will, matching it brutality for brutality, while Livingstone, possessed of spirituality and a preternatural absence of any fear of death, responded to the continent's harshness with patience and humility. Descriptions of the African landscape are vivid, as are the descriptions of malaria, dysentery, sleeping sickness, insect infestations, monsoons and tribal wars, all of which Stanley and Livingstone faced. More disturbing, however is Dugard's depiction of the prosperous Arab slave trade, which creates a sense of menace that often reaches Conradian intensity. This is a well-researched, always engrossing book. Agent, Eric Simonoff. (On sale May 6) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from Into Africa by Martin Dugard
The Nile Duel
Two Years Earlier - September 16, 1864
The catalyst for the saga of daring took place shortly after eleven in the morning on Friday, September 16, 1864. Richard Francis Burton stood alone on the wooden speaker's platform at the British Association for the Advancement of Science's annual convention, awaiting his debate opponent. His wife, Isabel, sat a few feet behind. He clutched a sheaf of arguments. He was strong but narrow in the shoulders and hips, like a matador. His eyes were so dark brown they were often described as black. His mustache, truly black, flowed over and around his lips to his chin. The legendary Somali scars ran up his cheeks like slender compass arrows pointing north. He remained calm as he watched the doors for John Hanning Speke's entrance. The fair-haired geographical hero with the cold blue eyes was Burton's opposite, and Burton had waited six years to settle their rivalry. A few minutes more meant little.
The audience felt differently. It had been a wet, cramped morning and they were lathering into a righteous fury. There had been rumors of a cancellation due to some sort of injury to Speke, but the almost two thousand adventurers, dignitaries, journalists, and celebrity gazers came anyway. They braved a howling rain to get seats for what the newspapers were calling the Nile Duel, as if the debate were a bare-knuckle prizefight instead of a defining moment in history. Burton and Speke would argue who had discovered the source of the Nile River--the most consuming geographic riddle of all time. Curiously, Burton and Speke made their conflicting source discoveries during the same expedition. They had been partners. And even as they made plans to destroy one another, Burton and Speke suppressed deep mutual compassion.
They were former friends--lovers, some whispered--turned enemies. Theirs was a "story of adventure, jealousy and recrimination, which painted their achievements in bright or lurid lights and tragic shades," in the words of Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of Bombay. Each man's aim was not just claiming the Nile, but destroying the other socially, professionally, and financially. The winner would know a permanent spot in the history books. The loser would be labeled a delusional, presumptuous fool, with all the public ridicule that implied.