Richard Francis Burton was determined to find the source of the Nile and convinced the Royal Geographic Society to fund his journey. That was not unexpected. When Burton proposed that John Hanning Speke accompany him, that was most unexpected. Their first joint journey into Africa was filled with dissension and bitterness, and Burton treated Speke badly on their return, using Speke’s notes in his book and making Speke look like a fool. But Burton realized that he needed Speke. Speke wouldn’t quit. Speke had a lack of fear. Speke was a good explorer. Speke wanted to turn the request down, but he realized that he needed Burton and this trip for redemption . . .to erase the stain on his name. So the unlikely pair set out in 1856 to explore darkest Africa.
While this book is an account of Burton and Speke’s journey to find the source of the Nile, it is much more than that. The author has examined the seven traits that make an explorer: curiosity, hope, passion, courage, independence, self-discipline and perseverance. Each chapter is devoted to a trait, and various explorations are cited to make his point. It’s a very interesting concept that takes the stories of familiar explorers to a new level and gives insight into how these traits can be used to enhance our lives. I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.
eGalley review Publication date 6.3.14