The River of the Gods is a story about two colleagues turned rivals Richard Burton and John Speak’s quest to find the source of the Nile. In other words, a story about a bunch of rich white dudes “discovering” geography long known by the African natives. The two make absolute fools of themselves trying to best one another to figure out the principle source of the Nile. We hear of many expeditions rife with danger and disease while these two battle to publish their findings and gain acclaim in the Royal Geographical Society.
These two guys are super problematic with their views on the equality of men and religion. But it reads as a great adventure novel where we all know how it turns out. They find their source, not gonna tell you who or what – spoilers, but they do not end up with the acclaim they hope for. They both die embittered men one famous for next to nothing and the other for translating foreign erotica. Seriously two entertaining British chaps all wrapped up in their “civilized” white superiority.
Happy to say the story tells us of their guides and appropriately names these geographical features with indigenous names. We also get a glance of Livingston, if you’re interested in his role.
I did this one on audiobook and found that the narrator added some character to what may be a bit of a dry read for the average non-fiction reader. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Do you have a geographical location you’re obsessed with or are interested in learning more about?