A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa

A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa

by Steve Kemper

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"Kemper’s majestic account of Barth’s journey restores the reputation of an explorer who was as passionate about science as he was about rigorous travel. It’s an enthralling adventure, captivatingly told." —Ziauddin Sardar, Times (London)

In 1840 Heinrich Barth joined a small British expedition into unexplored regions of Islamic North and Central Africa. One by one his companions died, but he carried on alone, eventually reaching the fabled city of gold, Timbuktu. His five-and-a-half-year, 10,000-mile trek ranks among the greatest journeys in the annals of exploration, and his discoveries are considered indispensable by modern scholars of Africa. In this historical adventure, the first book about Barth in English, Kemper goes a long way toward rescuing this fascinating figure from obscurity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393084061
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/18/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 43,963
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Steve Kemper is the author of A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa and Code Name Ginger, as well as many articles for national magazines. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut.


West Hartford, Connecticut

Date of Birth:

November 25, 1951

Place of Birth:

Louisville, Kentucky


B.A., University of Detroit, 1973; Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 1980

Table of Contents

Prologue ix

Map of the Expedition's Routes, 1850-55 xii

1 Preparations 1

2 Invitation to Africa 12

3 At the Edge of the Desert 22

4 First Steps 31

5 Stalled in Murzuk 42

6 The Palace of the Demons 51

7 To Air 55

8 Plundered 61

9 Days and Nights in Tintellust 79

10 Desert Port 90

11 Separate Ways 100

12 "The Celebrated Emporium of Negroland" 108

13 An Ending 124

14 The Kingdom of Bornu 137

15 A Mystery Solved 153

16 "The Horde of the Welad Sliman" 168

17 Razzia 175

18 Captive in Bagirmi 190

19 Letters from Home 203

20 Resurrection and Death 209

21 Westward 221

22 The Prospect of the Niger 233

23 "Obstructed by Nature and Infested by Man" 244

24 Golden City 254

25 In Timbuktu 264

26 Stuck 280

27 Released, More or Less 294

28 Rumors and Consequences 304

29 Getting Out? 318

30 Problems at Home 329

31 Last Journeys 349

Epilogue 365

Acknowledgments 369

Notes 371

Selected Bibliography 391

Index 397

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A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing book, one that took me off on a safari expedition into West Africa and never let go. Barth produced such an amazing amount of detail on his travels that it has taken over 100 years to appreciate it. His work is relevant today in ways we may not still know especially relating to climate change. For those with an interest in Africa's history, this book lifts the veil of mystery. It is an absolute must read. 5 stars
Anonymous 7 months ago
Dispels many of the myths of slavery. What a man this explorer must have been. Ranks with Sir Richard Burton in the annals of African exploration. A great read
jacoombs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent. Despite some gratutitous critique of (later) imperial policeis in Africa, this is a compelling read about a little known area and exploration. Kemper carries the reader along as though reading a suspense novel and, although the explorer Barth's warts are plainly exposed, he is ultimately a sympatetic hero.