Last Expedition: Stanley's Mad Journey through the Congo

Last Expedition: Stanley's Mad Journey through the Congo

by Daniel Liebowitz, Charles Pearson
     
 

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A noble rescue mission descends into a nightmare of cruelty, starvation, and cannibalism, bringing to a close the European exploration of Africa. "Liebowitz and Pearson have written an illuminating saga of the dark days of colonialism."—National Geographic Adventure
Henry Morton Stanley undertook the greatest African expedition of the nineteenth century to

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Overview

A noble rescue mission descends into a nightmare of cruelty, starvation, and cannibalism, bringing to a close the European exploration of Africa. "Liebowitz and Pearson have written an illuminating saga of the dark days of colonialism."—National Geographic Adventure
Henry Morton Stanley undertook the greatest African expedition of the nineteenth century to rescue Emin Pasha, last lieutenant of the martyred General Gordon and governor of the southern Sudan. Emin had been cut off by an Islamic jihad to the north and was at the mercy of brutal slave traders. Instead of ten months, the trip took three years and cost the lives of thousands of people, as Stanley's column hacked its way across the last great, unexplored territory in Africa.
Stanley's secret agenda was territorial expansion on the model of Leopold's Congo or the British East India Company, and what is revealed so vividly in the diaries of those who accompanied him is the dark underside of both the man and the colonial impulse. The expedition took whatever it wanted from the Africans, and when Africans were killed defending their possessions, they didn't even rate an entry in Stanley's journal.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
An in-depth and fascinating account of this eminent explorer who, we learn, had his dark side.— George Cohen
George Cohen - Booklist
“An in-depth and fascinating account of this eminent explorer who, we learn, had his dark side.”
Publishers Weekly
In this engrossing chronicle of a noble rescue mission turned sour, the monstrosities come as often from its central character as they do from the forests of Equatoria that he and his officers explored. Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904) was "an unwanted bastard" who became arguably the Victorian era's greatest explorer. Liebowitz, a retired physician, and TV documentary writer Pearson reason convincingly that the shame of Stanley's Dickensian childhood gave rise to his hunger for glory and his nonexistent empathy: almost prerequisites for the 1886-1889 mission (to rescue the governor of Equatoria, now the southern part of Sudan) that was the pretext for Stanley's expedition. The authors move to great effect between the record of events in Stanley's journal and those of his officers. The book becomes slightly tedious in its overly detailed slog through the three-year trek, in which a key colleague went mad, a good half of the expedition died and the survivors arrived too late. After almost 300 lugubrious pages, the final chapters relating the aftermath of the expedition make for quicker, if no less dark, reading. This account may have too much logistical minutiae for mass appeal, but history buffs and students of colonial and African studies will find it purposefully harrowing. Agent, Inkwell Management. (July 25) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Liebowitz (The Physician and the Slave Trade: John Kirk, the Livingstone Expeditions, and the Crusade Against Slavery in East Africa) and Pearson have written a disturbing account of journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley's three-year expedition (1887-90) through the Congo to rescue the governor of southern Sudan, Emin Pasha (a German-born convert to Islam) from a rebel uprising. Stanley was one of those 19th-century explorers who "gave a veneer of nobility and even romance, whether justified or not, to the English presence in Africa." The protagonists in this particular endeavor had conflicting agendas and ulterior motives: the chair of the Emin Pasha Relief Committee was planning to develop a trading company and was using Stanley as an agent to gain control of territories through which the relief expedition would be traveling. Stanley was determined to bring Emin Pasha back to England as testament to his own heroism. (There had been some disbelief regarding his 1872 "rescue" of Livingstone.) Emin Pasha was not in a desperate situation and wished to remain in Equatoria. The expedition, riddled by disease and violence, "shot, burned, and looted its way across Africa." As Liebowitz observes, the legacy of such exploitive incursions "haunts the continent to this day." This vivid and harrowing narrative is fleshed out with graphic excerpts from journals, memoirs, and diaries. Recommended for academic libraries and for public libraries with an interest in Africa.-Robert C. Jones, Warrensburg, MO Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393328738
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
07/17/2006
Edition description:
(2006)
Pages:
398
Sales rank:
563,755
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.89(d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Liebowitz, MD, lives in Woodside, California.

Charles Pearson lives in Mill Valley, California.

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