Based on contemporary records, as well as Alan Moorehead's solid sense of history and subtler character insights, this is an exciting record of the fifty years of African exploration and the attempt to reach the sources of the Nile- that ""sunburst of Victorian courage and imagination"" which drove such men as Burton and Livingstone and Gordon through outlandish country and uncharted terrain. Whether driven by mystic or missionary impulses, drawn by hatred or love, ambition or curiosity, they were a mixed group of reckless to resolute figures- soldiers, sportsmen, scholars, reformers- and for the most part endured dreadful hardships. Against the larger issues of exploitation and evangelical reform (to suppress the slave-trade; proselytize the natives), of colonial conquest and the Moslem revolt, individual figures make these journeys to the interior which often end as ordeals of endurance. Burton, the romantic, and his overbearing, self-righteous associate, Speke, later to be his pertinacious opponent; the ""fulcrum"" of African exploration, the practical and sensible Baker; Livingstone, on his last expedition, which ended with the famous confrontation and partnership with Stanley; George Gordon, the first in the long lineage of military mystics, cut off at Khartoum and neglected through the long months of siege to follow; Kitchener; Emin; etc.- these and others cross the pages and lend a striking human interest. And just as surely the Nile, which has held a fascination unequalled by the ""heights of the Himalayas, the Antarctic wastes"", exerts its continuing challenge... Part of the material here has had an earlier New Yorker appearance and Book-of-the-Month Club selection for January, with the Isak Dinesen, will strengthen the market in book form.