"The Last Expedition is the harrowing true story of Henry Morton Stanley's final trek across Africa to rescue Emin Pasha, the Lieutenant of the martyred General Gordon and governor of the southern Sudan. Emin Pasha had been cut off from the outside world for more than three years by an Islamic jihad to the north, warring African kingdoms to the south and east, and brutal slave traders to the west. Expected to take no more than ten months, the expedition took almost three years and cost hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives as Stanley and his men
"The Last Expedition is the harrowing true story of Henry Morton Stanley's final trek across Africa to rescue Emin Pasha, the Lieutenant of the martyred General Gordon and governor of the southern Sudan. Emin Pasha had been cut off from the outside world for more than three years by an Islamic jihad to the north, warring African kingdoms to the south and east, and brutal slave traders to the west. Expected to take no more than ten months, the expedition took almost three years and cost hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives as Stanley and his men hacked their way across the last great, unexplored territory in the heart of Africa: the forbidding Ituri forest." "Advertised as a mission of mercy, 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 the Africans were killed defending their possessions, they didn't even rate an entry in Stanley's journal." Although he expected it to be the crowning achievement in a career that had already made him "the greatest explorer in African history," Stanley's last expedition disintegrated into a nightmare of disease and starvation, desertion and rebellion, and brutality and savagery that brought to an end an era of European exploration in Africa that had lasted almost one hundred years.
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.
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.
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.”