Dr. David Livingstone, African Explorer in the mid-l800’s led other white men and lines of African porters into the middle of African swamps, deserts and jungles, looking for the source of the Nile.
During those times, his dispatches reached people around the world with his adventures. A renowned celebrity even today, he lived through more horrible experiences than believable.
He liked to walk alone, but also to take chances with others. These were so risky they mocked him and said he was crazy. The journalist, Henry Stanley, who was sent to find him by a New York newspaper editor, learned how to find his own strength and courage when he, too, had to face similar challenges when he went to find Livingstone.
Picture Livingstone. His motto, “never give up.” Pushing forward, always forward, the image of an explorer in his blue serge pants and jacket, billed cap, and a limp left arm. Despite his diligence in taking proper medication (he only brought enough for himself, not others), he survived countless attacks of malaria, eczema, and dysentery.
Once a lion charged, picked him up by the arm and threw him around like a rag doll. He was alone then but must have used his skills as a medical doctor to set his arm and suture the many wounds it left. It gave him his ‘signature’– an unusable arm.
Their exploits are told by Martin Dugard. Into Africa was published in 2003 by Doubleday. His fascinating story reeks of blood and savagery and shows us the Arab slavers who he must allow to feed him, be clothed and doctored by them, plus often be carried, although he hated what they did, but had to accept their help to survive.
Each page is horrifying in detail: caravans, porters carrying 70 pound bags of trade cloth, putrid air, horse and, tsetse flies, wasps, black, white, and red ants, centipedes filling their tents at night, all whizzing and biting, hyenas prowling outside that can be smelled. To compensate for all the gore, the other side–the beauty of Africa–is told, too.
What I’ll never forget are the cannibals who attack Livingstone’s caravan in the middle of the night. In the chaos, they throw a spear through a man’s cheek and brought down another they want to save by putting a spear in each thigh, leaving him on the ground so they could later brutally cut off his limbs after they finished looting the tents. Somehow, the pair managed to free themselves, walk three miles through a swampy jungle, and get onto a waiting ship.
The suspense and chills of this engrossing book will keep you up until all hours of the night.