What I’m Reading: Into Africa, the Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone, by Martin Dugard

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Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

 

I’ve known that line since I can remember, but all I ever recall knowing about it was that it was spoken by Stanley, when he came upon Livingstone in Africa. In fact, somehow I pictured him turning a corner to see Livingstone as he said it. That was it, end of story, at least for mini-me.

As many of you know, I have a love of Africa, and currently am into reading All. Things. Africa. So Into Africa, The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone, by Martin Dugard, sounded like a good addition to my reading list.

The majority of the story is set between 1866 and 1873. A more complex story than I imagined, Dugard creatively weaves the stories of British explorer David Livingstone and American journalist Henry Morton Stanley together in history, even while they were thousands of miles apart. Interestingly, other people were shown to play a key role in each of their individual lives, ultimately steering the two of them together.

Through both Livingstone’s and Stanley’s journal writings, newspaper articles from the time, a manuscript and nearly 1000 artifacts from Stanley’s travels to Africa, we see a realistic glimpse of what their personalities were each like, what they were capable of physically and emotionally, their thoughts and beliefs and how the two came to know each other. We see the Africa of the 1860s and 1870s, with all her disease, wars and horrors in many forms, including slavery:

“”We passed a woman tied by the neck to a tree and dead,” Livingstone wrote in his journal exactly three months after leaving Zanzibar. “The people of the country explained that she had been unable to keep up with the other slaves in a gang, and her master had determined that she should not become the property of anyone else if she recovered after resting for a time. I may mention here that we saw others tied up in a similar manner and one lying in the path was shot or stabbed, for she was in a pool of blood.””

As well as her utter beauty. Writing of Tabora, a primary Arab enclave in East Africa:

“Set among dun-colored hills in the heart of the East African countryside, refreshed by clear streams and pockets of forest, surrounded by fruit orchards and well-tended fields of wheat, onions, and cucumbers, it possessed a beauty and abundance of resources that made it the African equivalent of an oasis.”

The book is written with such great detail that it took me a while to catch the rhythm. But once I did, I was thoroughly hooked. I found myself completely engrossed in this true, and larger-than-life story, as well as the book. From the Epilogue:

“The saga of Stanley and Livingstone sparked an unlikely turning point in history. Journalism’s growing power, America’s ascendance and Britain’s eventual eclipse, one generation of explorer giving way to another, and the opening of Africa – all were either foreshadowed or came about as a result of Livingstone’s love affair with Africa and Stanley’s unlikely march to find him. Not surprisingly, American journalists of the era even voted Stanley’s discovery of Livingstone “the story of the century.” “

I highly recommend this book!

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What I’m Reading: Love, Life, and Elephants, An African Love Affair by Dame Daphne Sheldrick

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I received this book as a Christmas gift and I have to say I. Love. It.

 

True confession: A while back I watched a PBS special called My Wild Affair: The Elephant Who Found a Mom and fell in love with Dame Daphne and her story. I, myself, already had a love affair going with wild Africa and her animals, along with a deep desire to foster conservation efforts and animal protection.

 

The documentary pulled at my heartstrings with a story about an orphaned baby elephant named Aisha that she cared for many years ago. I cried right along with Dame Daphne as she recounted the heartbreaking story of Aisha’s short life and death. To a certain extent, this orphaned baby elephant, and others like her, lead the Sheldricks down a path to where the Wildlife Trust is now, many years later.

 

But prior to the documentary, I knew little about Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, the author of the book and her connection to the Wildlife Trust. I was intrigued. I wanted to read more about Aisha and know about the orphanage.

 

But the book is about so much more! (in fact, recounting that story was only a page or two in the book!)

 

Starting as a child in Kenya, you understand the beginning of Daphne’s love of animals, having grown up with all sorts in and around her house, starting with a mongoose, followed by the usual rabbit, cats, chicks and ducklings. Then an orphaned baby bushbuck came into her life.

 

“Bushy was the first creature to provide me with an insight into the wonders of the wild animal kingdom. He was gorgeous to look at, with large soft ears and beautiful liquid eyes, his skin of a rich chestnut colour with white patches on his throat and vertical white stripes and spots on his body. I could spend ages just stroking and cuddling him…

“As he grew up and became more independent, Bushy became more responsive. I would talk to him endlessly, absolutely convinced that he understood everything I said to him.”

 

The book is written in such an engaging way that you have the feeling Dame Daphne is there beside you recanting the adventures. Peppered with tales of history, people, animals, conflicts and events, sharing personal stories of her life and her love of David Sheldrick, the book drops us off in the present, providing rare insight into a most amazing and extraordinary life.

 

Please consider supporting me in my endeavor to share this lovely part of the world by purchasing books through my Amazon Affiliates account.

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