The Gates of Africa

Death, Discovery, and the Search for Timbuktu

Anthony Sattin

St. Martin's Press

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London, 1788: a group of British gentlemen---geographers, scholars, politicians, humanitarians, and traders---decide it is time to solve the mysteries of Africa's unknown interior regions. Inspired by the Enlightenment quest for knowledge, they consider it a slur on the age that the interior of Africa still remains a mystery, that maps of the "dark continent" are populated with mythical beasts, imaginary landmarks, and fabled empires. As well, they hoped that more accurate knowledge of Africa would aid in the abolition of the slave trade.

These men, a mixed group of soldiers and gentlemen, ex-convicts, and social outcasts, form the African Association, the world's first geographical society, and over several decades send hardened, grizzled adventurers to replace speculation with facts and remove the beasts from the maps. The explorers who ventured forth included Mungo Park, whose account of his travels would be a bestseller for more than a century; American John Ledyard; and Jean Louis Burckhardt, the discoverer of Petra and Abu Simbel. Their exploits would include grueling crossings of the Sahara, the exploration of the Nile, and---most dramatically---the search for the great River Niger and its legendary city of gold: Timbuktu.

Anthony Sattin weaves the plotting of the London gentlemen and the experiences of their extraordinary explorers into a gripping account of high adventure, international intrigue, and geographical discovery. The Gates of Africa is a story of human courage and fatal ambition, a groundbreaking insight into the struggle to reveal the secrets of Africa.

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Reviews

Praise for The Gates of Africa

"An extraordinary panorama of adventure, scholarship, and intellectual enterprise."
- Jan Morris, author of Venice and Manhattan '45

"Elegantly told, richly researched, and profoundly moving."
- Adam Nicolson, The Daily Telegraph

"Absorbing, highly readable and in places ironically humorous... A well-rounded and definitive study."
- Martin Booth, The Sunday Times

"An important, pioneering, and extremely entertaining contribution to the history of travel."
- Justin Marozzi, Literary Review

"Sattin has excelled himself."
- Condé Nast Traveller

"This is the stuff of which ripping yarns are made---and Anthony Sattin has certainly written one here."
- Geographical Magazine

"The Gates of Africa tells a story that has never been adequately told before and does so with style and scholarship. A remarkable story told remarkably well."
- Andrew Gouldie, The Times Higher Education Supplement

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About the Author

Anthony Sattin

Anthony Sattin is a journalist, broadcaster, and the author of several books, including Shooting the Breeze, Lifting the Veil, Florence Nightingale's Letters from Egypt, and the highly acclaimed The Pharaoh's Shadow. Over the past two decades, he has traveled extensively over the territory in which the African Association operated. An expert on the literature of travel, he has written for a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, and Condé Nast Traveller. He lives in Great Britain.

Anthony Sattin

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Available Formats and Book Details

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

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
January 2014
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466862357
ISBN10: 1466862351
416 pages, Two 8-page color photo inserts
$7.99
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