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The African Adventure

By Tim Severin

The deeds of explorers in the ‘dangerous continent’ rival the most adventurous and heroic exploits in human history. Hostile tribes, geographical hazards, ferocious animals, disease – and the explorers’ own capricious motives – were the major hazards.

Such an exploration begins with African figures including Mansa Musa and the legendary Prester John, whose rich kingdom was penetrated by the Portuguese in the early 1500s. Later we meet Mungo Park, Ledyard, the American, James Bruce, René Caillié, the humble baker’s son who found Timbuctoo, all of whom journeyed inland in the wake of the unprincipled Barbary coastal traders. Speke, Grant, Burton, Stanley, Livingstone, and Baker – the resourceful but feuding ‘Victorian lions’ – conclude the age of exploration, competing to unveil and evangelize Central Africa and find the source of the Nile.

Skilfully matching four hundred years of history with perceptive assessments of the leading European players on the African stage, Timothy Severin offers an engrossing chronicle that will take its place alongside the most distinguished writings in the field of travel and exploration.

Timothy Severin, author of Explorers of the Mississippi and The Golden Antilles, was educated at Oxford. He has collaborated on BBC-TV programs on exploration and is a regular reviewer for the Washington Post. Born in India, he has travelled extensively throughout the world to do research for his books.

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