As a fan of the Tour de France, one of my favorite Tour blogs is Martin Dugard's at Active.com. I've thoroughly enjoyed his writing while following the Tour across France. His writing style is approachable, easy to absorb and has generous portions of personal observations and interesting historical details.
Martin's blend of readability, observation and historical detail bring his subjects to life.
Because of his writing style, I picked up Martin's Last Voyage of Columbus last November. Just 3 weeks ago, I found a copy of Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone at my local library.
In a nutshell, Dr. David Livingstone was a Scottish explorer in the mid 1800s, credited with walking across Africa, is sent to search for the source of the Nile river. When he goes missing, several expeditions are sent to verify if he is dead or alive, but only one man, American journalist and adventurer Henry Morton Stanley, finds Livingstone alive, and utters the famous line to him: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
It would seem knowing the end of the story would make for a dull read — but no! Dugard does and excellent job of building up the back-story on both of these remarkable men, and their contemporaries. Dugard shares details on both their accomplishments and defeats, which led them their moment in history.
I was surprised by the hardships both Livingstone, Stanley and other explorers and their support staff were willing to endure to criss-cross Africa. Tribal wars, cannibals, slave traders, swamps, rivers, lakes, mountains, deserts, insects, wild animals, disease — you name it, they experienced it.
I knew this was a great book when I found myself yearning to read just a few more pages on my vacation last week. I would take time morning, afternoon and evening to read this intriguing story. It definitely passed my 100 page book test. :-)
After finishing Into Africa, I had a better understanding for the people involved: both Livingstone and Stanley, but also for their contemporaries, the state of the world and Africa itself. I've added a new piece of mental map to my understanding of the 1800s, and its impact on our current culture.
If you have an interest in history, exploration, Africa or just enjoy a good story, I highly recommend Martin Dugard's Into Africa.