The Race for Timbuktu: In Search of Africa’s City of Gold by Frank T. Kryza | LibraryThing

I mentioned a little over a year ago that I’m now keeping track of what I read (using LibraryThing). I enter the book, the date I finished it, and a rating out of five stars, but I’ve been thinking for a while that perhaps I should do some reviews as well, especially for the good ones.

I recently read The Race for Timbuktu: In Search of Africa’s City of Gold by Frank T. Kryza, about some British expeditions in the early 1800s. Overall definitely interesting, and I was surprised to realized just how recently Europe had zero clue about what lay within most of Africa, Given how shortly after these expeditions most of Africa was colonized.

The main flaws of the book were jumping back and forth between different expeditions in different years, especially in the first half of the book. There are some excellent maps included, but most of them are far too small to actually read much, so I’ve located some of them online:

  1. Africae nova descriptio by Willem Janszoon Blaeu, from page xix
  2. Africa by Sidney Hall, from page xx

The third map from the book I would have also liked to have found; I contacted the British Library for help (mentioned in the book as the source) but they were not able to find it. I’m sure I could get it eventually, but that was the limit of how much work I really wanted to put into this.

Aside from the maps being too small, I would have appreciated having more maps that showed the kingdoms and cultural groups with their boundaries, as it becomes difficult to follow this well given the number of times and places described.

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