Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone – Exile, African Slavery, and the Publicity Stunt that Saved Millions by Jay Milbrandt

About the book: In the century since his death, David Livingstone's life has been recast, rewoven, and retold as the rugged adventure of a patriotic scientist on the dangerous road to discovery. He has been alternately painted as a real-life Indiana Jones and a one-man Lewis and Clark. Livingstone has been secularized, lionized . . . and misunderstood.

Most consistently overlooked (or ignored) in accounts of Livingstone's life is the contribution he made to the abolition of the slave trade in Africa--and the Christian faith that drove his efforts. The Daring Heart of David Livingstone removes the veil that history has cast over the faith of a valiant Christian believer.

The quest for the source of the Nile will forever be associated with David Livingstone, and his adventures in the name of scientific ambition certainly make for a compelling story. Equally compelling, however, and far more important, is the story of African liberty, freedom, and redemption that this flawed foreigner left in the wake of his death.

Here, finally, is David Livingstone's complete story: the story of a man of great faith, fallen in his humanity but driven by his belief in the sanctity of God's creation. Though few could ever match his wonder at the natural world, it was his horror at human enslavement that propelled him in his most courageous, longsuffering work.

Review: I must quickly confess that prior to reading this book, I knew very little about the life of David Livingstone.  What I had heard through Sunday School was all that I knew – David Livingstone was a great missionary to Africa, preaching and sharing God’s Word and the plan of salvation.   I had no idea he was considered a great explorer and scientist.  I knew little to nothing of his desire and goal to abolish slave trading in and out of Africa and that the great expedition to discover the source of the mighty Nile River was a means to an end for Livingstone – the abolition of slavery.  I am embarrassed at my ignorance about this great man, but I can definitely say that it is not as great now as before.

This book has been an eye-opener for me and a good teacher.

 “The Daring Heart of David Livingstone” begins with Livingstone’s return to London at the end of 1856 and culminates with his death May 1, 1873, and the signing of a treaty for complete abolition of slave trading in Africa in August 1874.  The book takes us through an almost 20-year journey by Livingstone.  Along the way, we experience Livingstone’s success and failures.  We see him as man with faults, but never wavering from his desired goal – a goal he did not see achieved during his lifetime.  

In the author’s note at the front of the book:  “Livingstone would never know the success of his grand publicity stunt.  A mere thirty-six days after passing away deep in the heart of Africa, legislation in Zanzibar would make slavery illegal in East Africa.  He passed away believing he failed in almost everything in life.  For abolition, he sacrificed his career, his reputation, his fortune, his wife, his children, and eventually, his own life.”

“The Daring Heart of David Livingstone” is a good book and one I recommend.  I will be reading more about David Livingstone.  Thank you to the author Jay Milbrandt.

Jay Milbrandt, author,  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: A complimentary copy was provided by BookLook Blogging program on behalf of the publisher and author to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

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