Justin Marozzi

Perishing Pioneers

The Gates of Africa: Death, Discovery and the Search for Timbuktu


HarperCollins 320pp £25 order from our bookshop

SOME VERY DEAR friends of mine in Norfolk have a dog called Mungo Park, a Scottish terrier of advanced age. Having the proportions you would expect of a groundhugging Scottie, he is as physically far removed as you could imagine from the strapping young explorer after whom he is named. Nevertheless, what he lacks in grandeur he makes up for in spirit. I have always thought him a worthy namesake of the man who found the Niger (found in a European sense, of course - those Africans who needed to knew exactly where it was and how it flowed) over 200 years ago.

The original Mungo Park was perhaps the most celebrated explorer to travel under the mantle of the African Association, the organisation which forms the centre of this excellent book. It was the brainchild of Sir Joseph Banks, who founded the club

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