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Should have Stuck to the Bakers .
on 10 March 2015
At an early stage in my reading of this book , like another reviewer , I did begin to doubt my will to live . Having written two successful , seperate , works on Livingstone and Stanley frankly Tim Jeal should have stuck with that proven format . The first third , at least , of this book is at times an unintelligible mess as Teal attempts to superimpose the tales of Burton , Speke , Grant and the Petericks upon one another , combined with an attempt to summarise their thoughts and motives on virtually every page . This and an endless array of place and incidential character names makes for going as heavy as on any nineteenth century trek across central Africa . Only when Jeal begins to tell the tale of Samuel and 'Florence' Baker does his perplexing narrative sort itself out . Jeal should have set his sights purely on telling the tale of the Bakers in isolation and contented himself with making a success of just that . Having dealt with the Bakers , Jeal then gives himself the task of going further with extended discussion of the colonisation and subsequent decolonisation of Africa by European nations from an early twenty-first century perspective with contemporary politically-correct bias . Less is frequently more satisfactory . A simple ,extended , account of the Bakers would have been quite sufficient and ultimately more rewarding .