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The Discovery of the Source of the Nile   By: (1827-1864)

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In "The Discovery of the Source of the Nile," John Hanning Speke takes readers on an incredible journey through uncharted territories, providing an engaging and often thrilling account of his expedition. Speke's captivating narrative transports readers to the heart of Africa, immersing them in the challenges and triumphs of his quest to uncover the source of the Nile.

At the core of this memoir lies Speke's insatiable curiosity and his relentless drive to discover the truth. From the very beginning, readers are drawn into his world, as he navigates treacherous landscapes, confronts dangerous wildlife, and faces the harsh realities of a land untouched by colonial influence. Through vivid descriptions, Speke paints a vivid picture of the African continent, exposing readers to the beauty, mystery, and dangers that it holds.

One of the most impressive aspects of Speke's work is his attention to detail. His meticulous documentation of the geography, fauna, and flora encountered during his expedition adds depth and authenticity to his account. Speke effortlessly weaves together scientific observations with narrative storytelling, making his discoveries both informative and engaging.

However, it is worth noting that at times, Speke's writing can feel dense and overly technical. This may be off-putting to readers who prefer a more straightforward narrative style. Additionally, some may find his perspectives on the African people and cultures, typical of his time, to be outdated and even offensive by contemporary standards.

Nevertheless, "The Discovery of the Source of the Nile" remains an important historical document. While it is essential to approach this work critically, separating Speke's colonial biases from the factual observations, it offers valuable insights into the exploration of Africa during the Victorian era. Speke's accounts of his encounters with local tribes and his exploration of vast landscapes shed light on the complexities of cross-cultural interactions and the lasting impact of European expeditions on the African continent.

Overall, "The Discovery of the Source of the Nile" is a compelling and significant book for those interested in exploration, geography, and colonial history. Speke's determination, his descriptions of the African landscape, and his invaluable contributions to the understanding of the Nile make this memoir a worthwhile read. Embark on this remarkable journey alongside Speke, and witness the discovery that reshaped our understanding of Africa and its ancient mysteries.

First Page:


By John Hanning Speke

John Hanning Speke, born 1827. Served in the Punjab but left in 1854 to explore Somaliland. Discovered Lake Tanganyika with Burton, and Lake Victoria independently. Was, with Grant, the first European to cross equatorial africa. Died 1864.

Editor's Note

John Hanning Speke was a man of thirty six, when his Nile Journal appeared. He had entered the army in 1844, and completed ten years of service in India, serving through the Punjab Campaign. Already he had conceived the idea of exploring Africa, before his ten years were up, and on their conclusion he was appointed a member of the expedition preparing to start under Sir Richard (then Lieutenant Burton) for the Somali country. He was wounded by the Somalis, and returned to England on sick leave; the Crimean War then breaking out, be served through it, and later, December 1856, joined another expedition under Burton. Then it was that the possibility of the source of the Nile being traced to one of the inland lakes seems to have struck him.

Burton's illness prevented him accompanying Speke on the latter's visit to the lake now known as Victoria Nyanza. During this expedition Speke reached the most southerly point of the lake, and gave it its present name. Speke arrived back in England in the spring of 1859, Burton being left behind on account of his illness... Continue reading book >>

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