In 1905, scandalous reports of torture in France's overseas colonies rocked Paris. Brazzà was sent to investigate. Born an Italian nobleman, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazzà had spent twenty years exploring equatorial Africa as a French naval officer. His attempts to reconcile African development and prosperity with French colonial policy had already cost him his career. Now his commitment to expose colonial abuses would cost him his life. Already divided by the anti-Semitic currents of the Dreyfus Affair, France was about to discover the reality of its administration in central Africa. The European economy's greed for rubber had created a hidden world of slave labor and violence, with scenes that inspired the "horror" of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Brazzà, A Life for Africa is the first English-language biography of a man who lived an extraordinary life. Pierre Savorgnan de Brazzà was a nobleman, a naval cadet, an explorer, a glamorous idol to 19th-century Parisians, a colonial governor, and a human rights investigator, as well as a husband, father, and friend. By turns thrilling, romantic, and tragic, Brazzà's story blends exotic adventures with all-too-human emotions and experiences.
MARIA PETRINGA was born in Boston, USA, and obtained her B.A. with honors in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University. Working as a teacher and translator, she lived in France, Italy, Germany, and Congo-Brazzaville before settling in Paris. There she completed an M.A. with highest honors (Maitrise mention tres bien) in Comparative Literature from the Sorbonne Nouvelle.
Since the mid-1990s she has worked exclusively as a professional writer and journalist, specializing in art and history. She has published in English and French.
From 1997 to 2006, she studied and traveled extensively in the Middle East, including Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. She has a basic knowledge of both the Arabic and Hebrew languages. Since 1999 she has contributed reviews of Islamic Art exhibits in the West to the Saudi newspaper ARAB NEWS, the Middle East's leading English daily. A selection of these articles may be consulted by entering the searchword "Petringa" at http://archive.arabnews.com/search/
BRAZZA, A LIFE FOR AFRICA, her first book, combines many of her interests, including the French and Italian languages, the diversity of African cultures, Westerners' adaptation to traditional societies, human rights issues, and conservation and technology in developing countries.