The Race for Timbuktu: The Story of Gordon Laing and the Race
In the first decades of the nineteenth century, no place burned more brightly in the imagination of European geographers––and fortune hunters––than the lost city of Timbuktu. Africa's legendary City of Gold, not visited by Europeans since the Middle Ages, held the promise of wealth and fame for the first explorer to make it there. In 1824, the French Geographical Society offered a cash prize to the first expedition from any nation to visit Timbuktu and return to tell the tale.
One of the contenders was Major Alexander Gordon Laing, a thirty–year–old army officer. Handsome and confident, Laing was convinced that Timbuktu was his destiny, and his ticket to glory. In July 1825, after a whirlwind romance with Emma Warrington, daughter of the British consul at Tripoli, Laing left the Mediterranean coast to cross the Sahara. His 2,000–mile journey took on an added urgency when Hugh Clapperton, a more experienced explorer, set out to beat him. Apprised of each other's mission by overseers in London who hoped the two would cooperate, Clapperton instead became Laing's rival, spurring him on across a hostile wilderness.
An emotionally charged, action–packed, utterly gripping read, The Race for Timbuktu offers a close, personal look at the extraordinary people and pivotal events of nineteenth–century African exploration that changed the course of history and the shape of the modern world.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LisaMaria_C - LibraryThing
This is a story of European, specifically British, exploration of the African interior in the late 18th and early 19th century. At one point the book shows a 1829 map of Africa, and it was striking ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - Wolcott37 - LibraryThing
Long before the mid-Victorian exploration for the sources of the Nile began in earnest, a similar-if smaller scale-drive occurred to fabled Timbuktu, the capital of lost empire of Mali and to discover ... Read full review
ONE A SCOTSMAN AT TRIPOLI
TWO THE AFRICAN ASSOCIATION
THREE A WEDDING IN THE ENGLISH GARDEN
FOUR WHITE MANS GRAVE
FIVE THE AFRICAN TRAVELER
SEVEN HUGH CLAPPERTON
FIFTEEN TREACHERY IN THE TANEZROUFT
SEVENTEEN THE CITY OF LEGEND
TWENTY THE MYSTERY SOLVED
AFTERWORD AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS