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A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africaby Steve Kemper
Synopses & Reviews
In 1849 Heinrich Barth joined a small British expedition into unexplored regions of Islamic North and Central Africa. One by one his companions died, but he carried on alone, eventually reaching the fabled city of gold, Timbuktu. His five-and-a-half-year, 10,000-mile adventure ranks among the greatest journeys in the annals of exploration, and his discoveries are considered indispensable by modern scholars of Africa.
Yet because of shifting politics, European preconceptions about Africa, and his own thorny personality, Barth has been almost forgotten. The general public has never heard of him, his epic journey, or his still-pertinent observations about Africa and Islam; and his monumental five-volume Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa is rare even in libraries. Though he made his journey for the British government, he has never had a biography in English. Barth and his achievements have fallen through a crack in history.
"Journalist Kemper tells the engrossing story of a German scholar's five-and-a-half year, 10,000-mile journey across North and Central Africa in an age when that continent was as remote and exotic to Europeans as the North Pole. In 1849, Heinrich Barth set off with a small British expedition to explore the little-known Islamic kingdoms of North and Central Africa. As his companions perished along the way, Barth continued to navigate a world of tropical disease, ceaseless warfare, and religious extremists who murdered Christians on sight. Despite the hardships, Barth never neglected his careful documentation of the wonders and miseries of these regions. Defying steep odds, he made his way to the legendary city of Timbuktu and made it back alive. Kemper is a capable writer and clearly highlights the drama and singularity of Barth's odyssey. An obsessive student who picked up new languages with ease, Barth was an exemplar of the tireless scholar that the 19th century produced in legions. Unlike the colonizers in his wake, Barth respected the cultures he encountered, but his uncompromising disposition and European nationalism condemned him to obscurity. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A true story that rivals the travels of Burton or Stanley for excitement, and surpasses them in scientific achievements.
About the Author
Steve Kemper is the author of Code Name Ginger. His work has appeared in many national publications, including Smithsonian and National Geographic. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut.
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