James McCarthy

Name ID 2299

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Extract Author: Dr Brendan Whyte
Extract Date: 2004

Review of book about Keith Johnston

Particularly fascinating is the information on the motivations (and pay rates) of expedition porters, the description of squalid Zanzibar (Livingstone referred to it as 'Stinkibar'), and the contrasts between the various other African explorers of this time, particularly Burton, Livingstone and the alternately feted and hated Stanley: "Damn public opinion--the fellow has done no geography!" (p.64 quoting Markham, Secretary of the R.G.S.). A couple of appendices add further life to the story of the expedition, giving the number and prices of the instruments carried, and a detailed list, again with prices, of Thompson's personal equipment, which included 3 pairs of pyjamas, 6 merino vests, 6 towels and 12 handkerchiefs! A typical entry from Keith's expedition diary is also given, showing his meticulous approach to the need for scientific data and measurement: he notes changes in direction of the 150-man expedition as often as every five minutes!

The book is illustrated with extracts from a few period maps of Africa and East Africa, along with a number of photographs, many taken by the author [James McCarthy] during his days as a surveyor in Tanzania in the 1960s or during his 2001 attempt to locate Keith's grave near Mt Hatambula. There are even some photographs taken by Keith Johnston himself in Africa.

Extract ID: 5546