River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile

Doubleday. May 2022. 368p. ISBN 9780385543101. $32.50. HIST
Millard, the former National Geographic journalist who took readers down an uncharted tributary of the Amazon with Teddy Roosevelt in River of Doubt, now turns her attention to the exploration of Africa’s Nile River. Europe became obsessed with ancient Egypt in the 19th century following the 1799 discovery of the Rosetta Stone. Britain’s Royal Geographic Society resolved to locate the headwaters of the Nile, aiming to land an expedition on the east coast of Africa and explore inland, amid rumors of a lake region in the central part of the continent. Enter Captain Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke, two men with different temperaments and interests, who had already crossed paths during an ill-fated expedition in Somaliland along with their trusted guide Sidi Mubarak Bombay, who was formerly enslaved. Millard sets the stage for their bitter rivalry after they return from their harrowing East African expedition in 1859 and Speke announces he has found the source of the Nile, naming it Lake Victoria.
VERDICT It’s been nearly six years since popular Millard published Hero of the Empire, and eager fans and armchair travelers will gladly sign up for this enthralling and heartbreaking adventure.
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