Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Entertaining and Educational
on 24 November 2013
I heard of Mary Kingsley when reading The Book of The Dead, from the QI researchers, and decided to have a look at her book.
This book is a delight to read, being written in a humorous style including asides and anecdotes that can often be reread without palling. Even today a 30 year old woman would hesitate to go wandering alone in West Africa, collecting fish specimens from dangerous rivers, accompanied only by local natives, many of whom at the time were still cannibals. Mary learned to handle native canoes by herself.
Her descriptions of the country and it's people are superb, bringing them to life in a way lacking in most narrators. She had no illusions about the dangers, yet trusted men from local tribes to guide her through jungles and swamps, past friendly and unfriendly inhabitants.
Get past the rather wordy introduction and you will love this book, from the first river steamer journey onwards.
I'm sorry for anyone who finds racism in this work; there isn't any. This is a book of it's time, there's class and race separation everywhere, but Mary clearly considers all men equal, and generally superior to women! That's a fault in her Victorian upbringing.
She died in South Africa during the Boer war, helping in a hospital. Otherwise she may have become a famous authoress of her time.