River of the Gods

By Candice Millard,

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

Book description

'This complex, compelling tale is told with simplicity and grace' - The Times

A story of courage and adventure, set against the backdrop of the race to exploit Africa by the colonial powers.

For millennia the location of the Nile River's headwaters was shrouded in mystery. In the mid-19th century,…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked River of the Gods as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book came out at a time when I was working on a Zoom class on great river explorations and also contemplating my own trip to Egypt to sail on the Nile.

I love this author and her other work; this book is equally enthralling.

Historians and casual readers seem to hold no middle ground on the two protagonists, Burton and Speke, and their memorable adventure to find the source of the Nile. Millard gives us both sides of this debate, which has raged for over a century, about these two legendary explorers, presenting the odd lives of both men…

This is a non-fiction book about the Englishman Sir Richard Burton and his exploration in Africa to find the source of the Nile River. Millard is not afraid to point out Burton’s bizarre god complex, how smart he was that he might have developed one, and the hubris of explorers during that age.

Much of the “bad luck” experienced is the comeuppance of a young man’s arrogance, but I found myself feeling bad for him at times, even if he did bring it upon himself. He was a genius, and he was uncommonly brave. But his faith in his own…

River of Gods covers so many of my interests in the history of archaeology – especially the great 19th-century fascination with the history of Egypt.

Best of all it revisits one of the more memorable conflicts of the period, specifically that between Richard Burton and John Speke, over the discovery of the source of the Nile. I am a great admirer of Burton – a person of prodigious intellect with an extraordinary facility with languages – he spoke 29!

He and Speke were entirely different people, but both characteristic of quite different Victorian values. It is no wonder that they…

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