Monday, December 22, 2014

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone Exile, African Slavery, and the Publicity Stunt That Saved Millions By Jay Milbrandt

Published by Thomas Nelson

About the book: The captivating, untold story of the great explorer, David Livingstone: his abiding faith and his heroic efforts to end the African slave trade

Saint? Missionary? Scientist? Explorer?

The titles given to David Livingstone since his death are varied enough to seem dubious—and with good reason. In view of the confessions in his own journals, saint is out of the question. Even missionary is tenuous, considering he made only one convert. And despite his fame as a scientist and explorer, Livingstone left his most indelible mark on Africa in an arena few have previously examined: slavery.

His impact on abolishing what he called “this awful slave-trade” has been shockingly overlooked as the centerpiece of his African mission.

Until now.

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone tells his story from the beginning of his time in Africa to the publicity stunt that saved millions after his death.

My thoughts: David Livingston is a man that in many ways failed.  He failed as a missionary in that he only had one convert (and that is a dubious convert). He failed as an explorer (for truly his heart was into scientific exploration) in that he did not discover the mouth of the Nile. He failed to bring commerce to central Africa as a means to end the slave trade. Yet, for a seemingly multi-faceted failure, he is a much recognized and much revered individual. So exactly what did David Livingston accomplish?

The author Jay Milbrandt has thoroughly researched and presented the reader a rather in depth biography of Dr. Livingstone. While not excessively in depth nor length, the book is not an easy read. It is dry, detailed, and in some ways distracting in its thoroughness.  I found I quickly developed a dislike for the man, Livingstone. He is brutishly rude. Stubborn. Opinionated. He could go for weeks without speaking to anyone on shipboard no matter what the person wished to speak about. And he was, in my opinion, an uncaring husband and father.

He was, however, moved by the plight of the people of Africa whom the slavers - Portuguese, Arab, and yes, African - inflicted on human life for the sake of money. Africans sold their own tribesmen since that was all they had to "trade." Portuguese and Arab slavers massacred hundreds and used the Africans as porters to move ivory from inland Africa to the coast. Then they sold the slaves on the market. Yes, Livingston was moved. His solution was to create a new means of commerce for the interior of Africa that would halt the need to continue selling Africans as a means of gain.

Adventurer. Missionary. Abolitionist. Scientist. In the end, just who and what was Dr. David Livingston? I would say he was a man driven by ideas and ideals that he failed to see to fruition. I felt rather disappointed in his adventures since I had the perception that he was a missionary. My image of a missionary was not fulfilled in Mr.Livingstone. True, he did much to bring to a halt the slave trade and that is a major plus in his favor.

About the Author: Jay Milbrandt is a professor at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a Senior Fellow in Global Justice with the Nootbaar Institute at Pepperdine University School of Law where he formerly directed the Global Justice Program. He travels throughout the world as a human rights lawyer, manages global initiatives in Africa and Southeast Asia, and consults with organizations engaged in human rights and legal development efforts.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from BookLook Blogging Program on behalf of the publisher and author in exchange for a review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

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