Monday, October 24, 2011

While digging through the reading for my various college classes this semester, I stumbled across a real gem - Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard. This past weekend I finished reading it and wrote a comparative analysis paper for my History of Modern Africa class on this book and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I read Things Fall Apart in high school, so it was helpful to re-read the book now - especially after studying African history more in-depth. But as far as new discoveries go, Into Africa is a grand journey you won't want to miss!

Into Africa is certainly epic in scope and quite engaging for a non-fiction read! My copy has pen marks showing the plenteous sentences that stood out to me and little notes in the margins, such as:
  • "Oh, dear..."
  • "Ha!"
  • "Good question!"
  • "What?!"
  • "Sad!"
  • "Sounds like a movie..."
  • "Amazing!"
  • "Wow!"
And so on... As you can probably tell, I was getting quite involved with the text! ;) This book is packed with information, but there's far more "showing" than "telling," with plenty of descriptions (both horrifying and beautiful) of the dangers and excitement of exploring Africa. The story is full of violence (from the white men, Arab slave traders, and Africans alike), intrigue (it's incredible how the author takes a non-fiction historical book and incorporates cliff-hangers and surprises all along the way!), and touching realism (these historical figures are presented with all of their faults, needs, and victories). Dugard covers all the bases when it comes to emotion, let me tell you! And all of the little details are fantastic - I even found connections to my Civil War Era history class and my Personality Theory psychology class!

Whether you are a college student like me or not, we can all be students of history - and many of us are students of the writing craft. In this book you'll find great historical tidbits and plenty of inspiration for telling a powerful story. Highly recommended! (As noted above, there are graphic descriptions of violence and disease, as well as some sexuality, just so you're aware.)

Have you discovered any fiction or non-fiction gems recently?


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