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on 20 December 2015
The Victorian Explorers who ventured into central Africa in search of the source of the White Nile were a driven bunch. Jeal has been back to the sources to update the information we have about Livingstone, Burton, Speke, Baker and Stanley, and has reassessed their roles. In particular he has exonerated Speke from a lot of the attacks upon him following the quarrel with Burton.

During their travels, they were all laid low for a large part of the time by various tropical ailments, and spent a lot of their journeys being carried around by their long-suffering escorts and porters (or not long-suffering; many sensibly ran away with as much loot as they could get rather than face the perils ahead). Arab slave and ivory traders were active in the region (who interestingly did not seem quite so prostrated by the environment), meaning that the local residents tended to be wary of, if not downright hostile to any strangers in the area. So attacks by stones, spears or arrows were all too frequent.

So, a good, well-researched history of the explorations. And a final chapter shows how the final colonisation and somewhat arbitrary land borders drawn up paved the way for some of the humanitarian tragedies of the late twentieth century. Well worth reading.
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on 19 June 2015
A very readable account of early British exploration of East Africa. It reads like a boys own Novel, great adventure, hardship and impossible feats, and they still came back for more! A great book to learn the History of the time
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on 24 January 2018
As always by Tim Jeal a brilliantly written and entertaining history of this time in African & Colonial history
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on 21 December 2013
How these men survived the harsh conditions at all is impossible to believe
Clearly presents the petty actions of some of the Nile explorers. It is sad that a few did not receive the "glory" they deserved.
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on 3 September 2015
A present for another son who collects those books on earlier explorers,and reads them.
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on 8 October 2012
I found this book hard to get into but was worth the struggle in the end. I learned a lot from the in depth research by the author. There were a lot more explorers of the Nile than Just Livingston and Stanley. Well worth persevering through the early chapters.
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on 22 June 2014
I've always been interested in these brave men, and this book gives the inside story of the personalities in the quest for finding the source to the White Nile.
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on 13 June 2015
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on 20 July 2015
Fascinating account of an incredible man. Thoroughly recommend it!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 March 2012
This is a fascinating account of the incredible efforts made by a small number of explorers in the mid 19th century to discover the source of the Nile. The terrible hardships, dangers, illnesses, and complete exhaustion suffered by all of these remarkably brave people during their journeys into the then unknown are brought to life by Tim Neal in this engaging and and informative book.

The first two thirds or so of the book focuses on the explorers' journeys, characters and motivations, particularly Burton, who does not emerge in an attractive light, Speke, who does not get the credit he deserves for his work or character, Livingston, Stanley, Baker, and Baker's fiancee who was a former slave. All of them hated slavery and some, particularly Livingston and Baker, begged the British government to intervene to bring it to an end, but all had to make compromises with slave dealers in order to progress and to survive The relationships between the explorers and their parties with local rulers and their peoples are engrossing, and brought to life with numerous anecdotes. Neal has carried out extensive research from the writings of the main characters, both public and private, and has used this very effectively to shed new light on their actions, motivations and relationships.

The second part of the book deals with the effects of the explorations, and the subsequent 'scramble for africa', bringing the consequences up to the present day. Whilst very informative and enjoyable, this section of the book seems a little rushed, and could easily have been a book in its own right, rather than almost an addition to the main body of this book.

This is a small niggle though - Tim Neal has given us a highly readable account of these amazing journeys of exploration and the very brave people who undertook them.

3 people found this helpful
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