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The Gates of Africa - Death, Discovery and the Search for Timbuktu (Paperback, New ed) Loot Price: R276
Discovery Miles 2 760
You Save: R54 (16%)

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The Gates of Africa - Death, Discovery and the Search for Timbuktu (Paperback, New ed)

Anthony Sattin

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List price R330 Loot Price R276 Discovery Miles 2 760 You Save R54 (16%)

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A vigorous history, by a sympathetic and patient fellow traveler (Letters from Egypt, 1988, etc.), of the long-ago efforts by European explorers to reach a fabled African city. It's still not the easiest thing to reach Timbuktu, out on a bend of the Niger River in the Malian desert. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Europeans wanting to find the city, whose existence was barely a rumor to them, and to open up the Sahara to their trade faced more obstacles still: a lack of reliable maps; an Ottoman Empire to the east that instructed the Muslim faithful that allowing Europeans to pass by "is betraying your Sovereign (the Ottoman Emperor), your religion, and every Mahometan"; actively hostile populations fearing the presence among them of possible slavers and spies; Bedouin and Tuareg bands only too glad to rob and kill, and more, all on top of the inclement natural conditions and lack of amenities. Undeterred, the great botanist Joseph Banks gathered fellow scientists, scholars, and explorers to found a private group called the African Association, which would sponsor expeditions and, at the same time, work to abolish the slave trade. Its founding and first-generation members numbered some astonishingly accomplished men, among them Banks himself, the navigator John Ledyard ("independent America's first explorer"), the young soldier Daniel Houghton, the gloriously named Scottish traveler Mungo Park. Later generations of African Association members were no less well credentialed, and many of them suffered enormously to accumulate bits and pieces of knowledge about the Niger River and the way to the African desert interior. Sattin's anecdote-laced tales of their likes, and of the deeds and misadventures of dimly remembered men such as Swiss-born Jean Louis Burckhardt (who sagely remarked, "It is a less fatiguing duty to perform travels than to write them down") and Gordon Laing (the first European known to have entered Timbuktu), are wholly memorable and, overall, offer fitting tribute to the work of the African Association in all its multifaceted glory. A pleasure for students of exploration, as well as for armchair travelers. (Kirkus Reviews)
The history of the African Association, the world's first geographical society, dedicated to the exploration of the interior of a continent known only through legend and vague report. Africa was once seen as an El Dorado - a gold-encrusted continent of hope and prosperity, where the ancient civilisations of the Phoenicians and the Egyptians might have survived intact. The African Association, the world's first geographical society, set itself the task of revealing the mysteries of the interior of Africa. Founded in 1788 by a group of London-based gentlemen, made famous by the amazing exploits of its adventurers, for forty-three years it was engaged in a quest for geographical knowledge, personal glory, immense wealth and the fulfilment of national ambitions. There are two strands to the narrative. First there are the people who planned and paid for expeditions, the geographers, scholars, politicians, humanitarian activists and sharp-eyed traders, the richest commoner in England and two former prime ministers among them. Theirs is a lively tale of tavern meetings, court lobbying and salon intrigue during one of the most dramatic periods of world history. Then there are the adventurers, a mixed group of ex-cons and social outcasts - British, French, Germans and Americans among them - who went to the magical continent in search of glory and the unknown. They included Mungo Park, whose account of his travels was a bestseller for more than a century, and Jean Louis Burckhardt, discoverer of Petra and Abu Simbel. Each of their journeys was extraordinary, packed with drama and excitement, made notable by geographical discoveries and, with very few exceptions, ending in death. An outstanding account of a unique period characterised by the passion, ambition, courage and sheer sense of adventure of its participants.


Imprint: Perennial
Country of origin: United Kingdom
Release date: October 2004
Authors: Anthony Sattin
Dimensions: 197 x 130 x 28mm (L x W x T)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 382
Edition: New ed
ISBN-13: 978-0-00-712234-9
Barcode: 9780007122349
Categories: Books > Sport & Leisure > Travel & holiday > Travel writing
Books > Travel > Travel writing
Books > Travel > Travel writing > General
Books > Sport & Leisure > Travel & holiday > Travel writing > General
LSN: 0-00-712234-9

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