Cover Image: River of the Gods

River of the Gods

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Member Reviews

I was in the mood for some historical non-fiction and this did the job just fine: a thrilling account of the legendary search for the origin of the Nile - the greatest geographical mystery of the middle of the 19th century.

The 'hero' of the adventure is the mysterious and brilliant Sir Richard  Burton, a British orientalist, internationalist and explorer who spoke more than 25 languages. He is arrogant but fair and sympathetic (and yes, he also held some opinions that we would now regard as very, very wrong).

The ´villain´ is John Speke, Burton's second in command and increasingly becoming a rival on the expedition. He is the fitter of the two, and what he lacks in intelligence he makes up with pride, arrogance and competitiveness.

Entering East-Africa from Zanzibar and penetrating it deeply, the expedition, funded by the Royal Geographical Society, reaches lake Tanganyika at great cost. The European members of the expedition are confronted with the most bizarre illnesses which impact the quest in a decisive way. 

The book clearly makes a deliberate effort to also tell the stories of others than the two white men leading the expedition. There are fascinating sections on Arab slave trade, the incredible figure Sidi Mubarak Bombay (who deserves a biography of his own), as well as the women back home in England. 

Well recommended if you are interested in East-Africa, exploration and the 19th century.
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It was an informative and riveting read, a story and history featuring characters larger than life like Burton. The search for the Nile sources is fascinating and I liked the analysis of the society and political reasons.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine
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A reclamation and re-examination of the story of the search for the heart of the Nile river. Often caught up in colonial fantasies of imperial adventure, this book draws us back to reality, and the exploitation of not only a beautiful, natural wonder, but also of the people of Africa.
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This book was okay, but it had so much meandering to get to the interesting parts. I don't regret reading it, but I also wish it was a bit more focused.
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*A big thank-you to Candice Millard, Swift Press, and Netgalley for arc in exchange for my honest review.*
Another non-fiction by Ms Millard that has won my heart! A most detailed and perfectly researched and written race to the sources of the Nile, the race with three main competitors, each one having their own objectives and employing different means to win. The 19th century Africa, the continent still to be discovered, and with dangers that were unpredictable to those who dared.
Such books pay tribute to all those brave men (and women) who were not afraid to dream and risk their lives in order to draw maps of the unknown territories. A gem for readers interested in the history of dicoveries of Africa!
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Everyone knows about Burton and Speke but Bombay was just an afterthought until this book.

Ms Millard has produced a will written and researched tome about the search for the source of the Nile. Its also a study of British exploration  in the 1850s and the inherent troubles with the huge personalities of Burton and Speke.

I will definitely be purchasing the hardback version of this. 

A huge thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital version in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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