Livingstone's Missionary Tales had already been a bestseller. He now wanted to outdo other explorers and find the sources of the Nile. But after 5 years of travelling he was widely assumed to be dead. At that point, Stanley turned up with his Stars and Stripes flag and a caravan of much-needed supplies. In a brilliant book Clare Pettitt tells the story of their meeting and what led up to it, and the reactions to it of contemporaries and afterwards. The 'truth' is complicated. Livingstone, the crusading missionary had often cooperated with the slave-traders. He had made only one convert and his greatest achievement of exploration - the discovery of the source of the Nile - was in fact a misidentification. It is a fascinating story of conflict and paradox taking us into the extraordinary history of British engagement with Africa...and shows both the darkest side of imperialism and the popular myth-making of the music hall jokes, the cartoons etc. This is the second title in the new Profiles in History series, edited by Mary Beard. This series explores classic moments of world history - those 'ring-a-bell' events that we always know less about than we think!
Clare Pettitt is Professor of Nineteenth-Century English Literature at King's College London.
[An] outstanding analysis of celebrity, cultural memory and the manipulation of public mood...A terrific book, which deals with a huge range of themes without losing nuance or historical sensitivity.