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How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  593 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Riveting firsthand account of the long and arduous search by journalist/adventurer for one of the great explorers of the 19th century. A real-life adventure story that tells of incredible hardships — disease, hostile natives, tribal warfare, impenetrable jungles, and other obstacles. Also includes a wealth of information on African peoples. 1 map.
Paperback, 640 pages
Published February 19th 2002 by Dover Publications (first published 1871)
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Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How I found Livingstone:
By Henry M Stanley (1841-1904)

Who were Livingstone and Stanley?

David Livingstone (1813-1872) was a Scottsman, explorer, missionary, and anti-slavery campaigner.
He became a great hero of the Victorian era for his geographic discoveries in the heart of unexplored Africa.

Henry M Stanley was an English born journalist and explorer, well known for his adventurous and exotic reports from his Oriental and European travels.

Livingstone had been on his third expedition for many mo
Diane in Australia
This book was originally published in 1872, so, the language, and place/people names, have changed considerably since that time. If you can deal with that, you're in for a quite a ride with Stanley, as he searches for Livingstone. Much information is given regarding the various African tribes he deals with along the way, and the Arab travellers who are on journeys of their own. Historically speaking, it's an important book since it is written by Stanley himself. He was a rugged explorer, full of ...more
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adventure
This book is so passionate, and so well written. To be frank, Stanley was a man who was emblematic of his time: he discusses what kind of rifles would bring down the biggest game with just one bullet, how cheerful the "dark" people are, etc. He himself possessed vast reserves of courage, tenacity, imagination. So, if you want to know what a 19th century explorer thought and felt, this book is PERFECT. It shows you the thinking of that day about race (He thankfully doesn't seem to think Britannia ...more
Read all my reviews on

Finished after 8 years!

How does one spend 8 years reading a book, I hear you think. Well, of course I was not actively reading it for the last 8 years. I am however, very bad in DNFing a book, so some will stay inactive on my shelves for years, something I want to improve.

I got How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa ages ago for 2 or 3 euros in the very ugly Wordworth edition because at that time I believed that if I could more boo
Kevin Pedersen
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: world-tour
Historically interesting, as it's a primary source. Though, having read "King Leopold's Ghost," the part this book and its author played in inciting a tragedy can't be overlooked. Nor can Stanley's obvious tendency to exaggerate and lie, which comes through pretty clearly on the page.

The book can basically be divided into four parts:

1 - Preparation for the trip. This is okay. If you're up for it, it's actually kind of interesting to hear Stanley go into which gun he thinks is the top of the line
Joe Marlin
Mar 15, 2013 rated it liked it
I find it strange when people ask me, was Livingstone a Christian? It was his tomb at westminster abbey, with the words engraved 'other sheep I have, and they must come also' that gave the mission we belong to founder the vision to place mission stations from the coast to lake chad, just after recovering from malaria and burring his brother in the Congo.

In striking contrast to Stanley, and many other explores of the time, Livingstone stands out as a man who fell in love not only with the geograp
Robert Melnyk
This is a very hard book for me to review. The story/history of the subject is very interesting, but I did not take to the writing style of the book at all. It was very hard to get through, and actually, I did not get through the whole thing. The book is 690 pages. I managed to trudge through 420 pages, to the point where Stanley found Livingstone. It was not an easy read with all the detail of the various African villages, tribes, and people. I decided that I did not want to trudge through anot ...more
Timothy Ferguson
Aug 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: librivox
Well recorded, but the original author is simply a horrible human being

There's something about the period British desire to tell you how immoral and weak the natives are, while complaining that there's no sport in killing wildlife if its not going to either attack you or run away, that made me progressively loathe Stanley, until I was very glad to part company with him when the book was over.

This is, of course, a great compliment to the reader, who really made me feel like I was in the presence
Osama Siddique
'Mr Livingstone, I presume' are the famous, though probably subsequently invented, words associated with the encounter of Henry Stanley and David Livingstone. Quite remarkable men and intrepid explorers who in hindsight are problematic - especially Stanley - for alleged poor treatment of natives. This is deepest, darkest Africa and the age of colonial empires and while Stanley's expedition to find Livingstone through disease and wild animal infested jungles, stark deserts and domains of hostile ...more
Brian Cohen
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s really more of a 3.5, but I decided to round up after enjoying the end. A dated (it’s only a few years after the civil war) but interesting journey across what is now Tanzania through the eyes of an American explorer. It’s difficult to keep the names straight, and I mean ALL the names - Africans, Arabs, places, landmarks, etc., but if you accept that you’re only going to master a few and just tag along for the ride you’ll still have a good experience. It’s fascinating how diverse the people ...more
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, nonfiction
Reading this book, my mind wandered. I have read a handful of novels by Henry Rider Haggard. His novel King Solomon's Mines (1885) featured the journey from Zanzibar and into the unknown interior of the continent. Stanley found Livingston in 1871. He like other explorers and adventurers inspired the imagination and the "Lost World Literary Genre." It was a pleasure to read because I recognize themes from fictional novels I have read and the multimedia those novels inspired.

I chose this book bec
Forked Radish
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The unborable
Shelves: rml
An ancient (1870's) tale of a reconnaissance in force led by a journalist (journalists used to write in journals which is why it's so tedious in its minutiae). The force was necessary if bribery didn't work. Today, of course, things are different as there are no corrupt officials or regimes anywhere in the world. We live in the millennium. But a very important book nevertheless, as it's an invaluable record of pre-neo-missionary Africa with its concomitant cultural genocide, and the inspirationa ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting read. Henry Stanley wasn't a nice person, but I think he knew that very well. Whenever someone didn't follow his orders, he would hit them or threaten them with his gun. He wrote often that Livingstone was a much better man than he was, because Livingstone always tried to avoid violence.
On the other hand: many of the people Stanley encountered during his search for Livingstone weren't particularly nice, either.

Although Stanley's journey to find Livingstone was tough, it
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Listened to the audiobook. What a fantastic story! People in Henry Stanley’s time were clearly made of fine stock - world travelers, journalists, explorers of Central Africa. Not only is the book valuable for the first-hand account of finding Dr. Livingston, but the writing is actually very enjoyable! The author is well-read, well-traveled, has a great eye for natural beauty, and a likeable sense of humor about the natives, fellow Arab travelers, types of guns to hunt big game, and African explo ...more
Steffan Panos
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stanley's writing style, being highly descriptive and at times poetic makes for an enjoyable and adventurous reading experience. As some other readers have pointed out, Stanley's character is difficult to relate to, and, at times difficult to like. For example, he is self-assured and haughty; he believes that his race is superior and that he has the inherent right to travel through any part of Africa that he chooses, regardless of the claims of the people who inhabit those areas. However, there ...more
Ed Barton
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good History

Doctor Livingston, I presume? The account of Stanley's journey into Central Africa is a good read - and you get insights into the journey and in part the role that Arabs played in the economy and social fabric of Eastern Africa, in particular Zanzibar. A good read.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Francisco Viliesid
Aug 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
15c HRN 116 = 1st printing! = January 1954

+ Stanley Bio
+ Clara Barton: Schools for All
+ Early Americas: Reindeer to the Rescue
Lauren Lombard
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent account of a harrowing journey with all the eloquence and vocabulary that seems lost in our time.
Apr 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
The premise of this book is almost hard to believe--an adventurer is commissioned to find the long-missing, presumed dead, explorer/missionary David Livingstone, somewhere in the interior of Central Africa. The payoff, unfortunately, is a bit mixed.

The books is very thorough and very detailed--both of which make the book much longer than most readers would care to read. Were the book half the length, it would have made it much easier and much more engaging.

But there are truly great and worthwhil
This book wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be. I was really impressed by Stanley's use of local names and languages, he says Kiswahili instead of Swahili as this is the true name of the language. He details what is really difficult for people to travel and explore the continent of Africa. It contains so much wildlife including insects and I am thinking microbes that it is a very difficult place for people to survive. In fact in the areas covered with jungle, there were very few inhabi ...more
Ernest Hogan
Just the sort of first-hand account of unfamiliar territory I enjoy.
Thom Swennes
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adventure lovers
As a child my imagination ran free when I read stories or saw movies about safaris in darkest Africa. How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa by Henry M. Stanley, born John Rowlands (28 January 1841 – 10 May 1904), relates the story of a quest into the unknown. The New York based correspondent Henry M. Stanley undertook an unbelievably difficult mission to find a Scottish doctor in the unexplored depths of the central African jungles. Beginning and end of his was on the island of Zanzibar, whe ...more
Abdullah Almuslem
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I intended to give this book a 4 stars but the end of the book is astonishing. i thought Stanley is a rude racist explorer which is a conclusion I reached reading through the event he encountered but his last speech to his black servants gives another side of the man:

"You are now about to return to Unyanyembe, to the 'Great Master'. You know him; you know he is a good man, and has a kind heart. He is different from me; he will not beat you, as I have done. But you know I have rewarded you all—h
Stanley's first hand account of his trip to find Livingstone. I have never before thought about the minutiae of outfitting an expedition, but Stanley goes into painstaking detail- the amount of food, gifts for the chiefs on the way, the guides that must be employed etc. This is very dry and tedious. Stanley claims at the beginning that he believes all men are equal regardless of color, which I thought was a remarkably enlightened view for an adventurer back in the 1800's. Within a few pages tho ...more
Aug 18, 2011 rated it liked it
I am amazed at what Stanley went through to find the explorer Livingstone, who was feared to be dead in the middle of (then) impenetrable Africa. Be prepared for lots of detail, lots of tribal names (which I could not keep straight), lots of geographical explanation, which are hard to follow without a map. That said, also be prepared for interesting interactions between the American and the Africans, amazing stories of courage, and a most human retelling of Stanley's adventure. I still don't get ...more
David R.
May 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-history, travel
Sir Henry Stanley was commissioned by the flamboyant publisher James Gordon Bennett Jr. in 1869 to put together an expedition into what is now the nation of Tanzania to determine the fate of the missionary David Livingstone, of whom nothing was heard for several years. This book recounts that expedition, and largely its first half. Stanley is methodical in his story telling, but rapidly becomes repetitive as we read about uncooperative "staff" and dealings with the natives, whose ethical sense i ...more
This is an adventure book for sure, and a true story.

Beside the African names, which are hard to remember and pronounce, it is a detailed account of Mr. Stanley's expedition to find Dr. Livingston. The book covers just the expedition and the brief time Mr. Stanley joined Dr. Livingston to do some exploration of the source of the Nile river. The book was free on Amazon eBooks which is why I read it.

One does not envy either Mr. Stanley or Dr. Livingston in their travels of Africa, but one admires
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Keep reading through the unfamiliar place names which come fast & furious from the start. Eventually one gets caught up in the narrative as Stanley and his hired crew of Arabs, Anglos and Africans proceed from Zanzibar to Bagamoyo to Unyanyembe to Lake Tanganyika and back again. Much of the book serves as a demonstration of the perennial difficulties of finding good help. Stanley is not the most likeable character at the outset, but by the end I could not help but be proud of him. In the process ...more
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Henry Morton Stanley GCB, Welsh journalist and explorer of central Africa, was born John Rowlands and changed his name after his emigration to the United States in 1859. He became famous for his search for missionary and explorer David Livingstone, for his search for the source of the Nile, and his association with the Belgian King Leopold II (for whom he claimed the area south of the Congo river, ...more

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