Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer

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Yale University Press, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 570 pages
"A magnificent new life . . . [and] a superb adventure story. . . . There have been many biographies of Stanley, but Jeal's is the most felicitous, the best informed, the most complete and readable and exhaustive, profiting from his access to an immense new trove of Stanley material." -- Paul Theroux, front page, New York Times Book Review

Henry Morton Stanley, so the tale goes, was a cruel imperialist who connived with King Leopold II of Belgium in horrific crimes against the people of the Congo. He also conducted the most legendary celebrity interview in history, opening with, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

But these perceptions are not quite true, Tim Jeal shows in this grand and colorful biography. With unprecedented access to previously closed Stanley family archives, Jeal reveals the amazing extent to which Stanley’s public career and intimate life have been misunderstood and undervalued. Jeal recovers the reality of Stanley’s life—a life of almost impossible extremes—in this moving story of tragedy, adventure, disappointment, and success.

Few have started life as disadvantaged as Stanley. Rejected by both parents and consigned to a Welsh workhouse, he emigrated to America as a penniless eighteen-year-old. Jeal vividly re-creates Stanley’s rise to success, his friendships and romantic relationships, and his life-changing decision to assume an American identity. Stanley’s epic but unfairly forgotten African journeys are thrillingly described, establishing the explorer as the greatest to set foot on the continent. Few biographies can claim so thoroughly to reappraise a reputation; few portray a more extraordinary historical figure.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nmele - LibraryThing

An interesting biography of the journalist and explorer which introduces evidence from Stanley's diaries and letters to counter the prevailing image of him as a brutal opportunist who colluded with ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - atheist_goat - LibraryThing

I liked this, though I quickly grew to dislike Jeal and his constant refrain of "no one else has ever used these materials or drawn these conclusions - everyone else has always been wrong about ... Read full review

Contents

III
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IV
17
V
31
VI
42
VII
57
VIII
62
IX
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X
91
XXIV
298
XXV
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XXIX
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XXX
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XXXI
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XXI
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XXXIII
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XXXIV
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XXXV
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XXXVI
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XXXVII
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XXXVIII
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XXXIX
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XLI
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About the author (2007)

Tim Jeal is also the biographer of Henry Morton Stanley (National Book Critics' Circle Award in Biography and Sunday Times Biography of the Year 2007), and Robert Baden-Powell, which (like Livingstone) was chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times and the Washington Post. In 2011 his Explorers of the Nile was a New York Times Editor's Choice and a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.

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