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The land from which no traveller had returned,
This review is from: The Pale Abyssinian: The Life of James Bruce, African Explorer and Adventurer (Paperback)"A greater traveller than any of us." That is the tribute paid to James Bruce by David Livingstone who, a hundred years later, followed him to the source of the Blue Nile. Abyssinia, when Bruce went there in 1770, was a place of unimaginable brutality and intrigue, from which no European traveller had returned for 200 years.
Bruce, ostensibly in search of the source of the Nile seems to have had a more secret purpose which Bredin’s strictly scholarly account can only guess at. As a freemason, Bruce’s overriding interest was probably in tracking the whereabouts of the fabulous Ark of the Covenant, which supposedly contained the original stone tablets bearing the Ten Commandments.
This is a tale of battles and intrigue, survival, mystery and romance. Bruce is shipwrecked in the Red Sea, leads a troop of cavalry in a medieval battle, finds the lost Book of Enoch, spends passionate nights with the beautiful Ozoro Esther, the love of his life, and finally tears himself away to return to Europe. All the while he humps along an enormous quadrant and a quantity of other scientific equipment, and records observations of such meticulous accuracy they are useful even today. On the last lap home he once again almost loses his life and all his equipment in the Nubian Desert.
By frequent use of Bruce’s journal and by meticulous following up of all obscurities, Bredin makes this book both enthrallingly immediate and convincingly authoritative. Read it.