Henry Morton Stanley was a cruel imperialist - a bad man of Africa - who connived with King Leopold II of Belgium in horrific crimes against the people of the Congo. Or so we think: but as Tim Jeal brilliantly shows, the reality of Stanley's life is yet more extraordinary. Rejected by both parents at birth and consigned to a Welsh workhouse, he emigrated to America, fought in the Civil War - on both side - before becoming a journalist and then an explorer.
Few people know of his dazzling trans-Africa journey, which solved virtually every one of the continent's remaining geographical puzzles. His journey down the Congo to the Atlantic is a heart-breaking epic of human endurance. It alone qualifies him as Africa's greatest explorer. He also conducted the most legendary celebrity interview in history, remembered in the words, 'Doctor Livingstone, I Presume?'
Now, with abundant new documentary evidence, Jeal provides a timely re-examination of post-colonial guilt, new insights into African history, and a fresh understanding of the nature of exploration. Few biographies can claim so thoroughly to reappraise a reputation, or to be as moving, or as truly majestic.
Tim Jeal is the author of Livingstone, selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review and one of the 'best and brightest of the Year' by the Washington Post Book World. His Baden-Powell was described in the Literary Review as 'one of the most imporant biographies of recent years'. His memoir, Swimming With My Father, was published by Faber in 2004 to rapturous critical acclaim. He is also a novelist and a former winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.