One Dry Season: In the Footsteps of Mary Kingsley

Caroline Alexander, Author Alfred A. Knopf $18.95 (290p) ISBN 978-0-394-57455-4
In 1893 Mary Kingsley, then 30, ventured into what is now Gabon, West Africa, ``a region notorious for its deadly climate and diseases, its alarming wildlife, and its cannibals.'' The British wayfarer was enthralled and penned Travels in West Africa . This classic led American doctoral student and pentathlete Alexander to embark on a similar odyssey, retracing Kingsley's steps. Armed with Kingsley's book and maps, her own background research, and a store of determination, the author trekked through bamboo forests and villages of mud huts, encountering incurious natives and serene missionaries. Juxtaposing the colorful details of her days with the writings of a vast cast of explorers from a century before, Alexander weaves a verbal tapestry that tells of her deepening affection for the Gabonese and growing admiration for the exploits of her 19th-century forebear. In superimposing motorboats, hydrofoils and other modernisms upon Kingsley's less ``civilized'' adventure, Alexander may come up short in her desire to ``make contact with the past,'' but the record of her attempt will fascinate. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 290 pages - 978-0-679-73189-4
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