Martin Dugard,
Into Africa:
The Epic Adventures
of Stanley & Livingstone

(Doubleday, 2003)

"Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

There was a time not so long ago when that simple phrase had a deeper resonance. It still stirs the imagination of those of us with an interest in Africa. But there are probably many today who aren't familiar with the names David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley.

Not being familiar with the names is not a deterrent to the enjoyment of this new book by Martin Dugard -- that is, if the reader has the least sense of adventure.

In the spring of 1866, Dr. Livingstone embarked on an expedition into the heart of the Dark Continent, intent on resolving once and for all the mystery of the source of the Nile River. Livingstone, who had spent years in Africa as a missionary, already held a reputation as an intrepid explorer. Yet, within weeks, he vanished without a trace and years passed with no word of his fate.

While debate raged in England over whether to send a rescue mission, James Gordon Bennett Jr., an American newspaper tycoon, hatched the scheme of capitalizing on the world's fascination with the missing explorer by sending a young journalist into Africa to search for him.

Stanley, the man Bennett chose for the task, was an ambitious fledgling reporter, a drifter, who had previously failed as a clerk, salesman, soldier, sailor and gold miner. In fact, Stanley was not even his real name and he was not the native-born American he claimed to be. Yet Africa molded him into as much a hero as the man he sought and found.

Dugard, himself an adventurer, writes a compelling story of courage, foolhardiness and remarkable achievement. Though there have been other books on the subject, this is the first to draw on modern research and to explore the fusing of adventure, politics and character at the heart of the tale.

In addition to the main characters, Dugard provides insight to a host of other heroes and eccentrics the like of which are not to be found today.

- Rambles
written by John R. Lindermuth
published 22 May 2004

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