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Wednesday
Aug022006

Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone

into-africa.jpgAs 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.

Reader Comments (2)

Hmm I'm from Uganda - the country with the Source of the Nile. Another explorer, Speke eventually 'discovered' the Source can be seen standing in front of it in the picture on this site http://homepage.ntlworld.com/haywardlad/nilesource1.html).

The view is quite different now. The Rippon falls in the pic were submerged when the Owen Falls dam was built about 40years ago, I think. I've actually passed over them in a boat but could only see the stillness of the water. You wouldn't even know they were there!

The Source of the Nile is quite amazing! You have to go there by boat and the first part of the trip is on Lake Victoria. You then reach this place where the lake water isn't really moving.

When you look at the water you actually see the bubbles coming from below. Amazing and quite humbling! Imagine sitting in a boat and you can see the water come up with large lazy bubbles - and you know that these are the humble beginnings of one of the world's longest rivers!

The river water then meets the lake water and slowly begins its journey to Egypt. It picks up speed rather quickly and much further on is one of the best sites in the world for white water rafting.

If you're intersted, let me know and I will rustle up a few photos that I took of these sites.

I studied about the explorers while in high school so this is all quite nostalgic. When you visit London, do visit Westminister Abbey. I believe that's where Livingstone was buried but I stand to be corrected. You can actually walk over some floor monument where he's commemorated. Spooky!



August 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHellene
Hellene, thanks so much for your comments, wow!

I hadn't known about the flodding or what it looks like today. Dugard did talk about where the source was found and also mentioned Livingstone's remains in Westminster Abbey in his description of the regal rememberance for him.

If you have some pics, I'd be very keen to see them. :-)

Cheers and thanks again for your notes! I'm honored. :-)
August 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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