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The Other Livingstone complements rather than contradicts the demythified David Livingstone of Tim Jeal's definitive biography (KR, 1973). Working from Jeal's revelation of Livingstone's penchant for self. serving obfuscation, Listowel traces the careers of three of Livingstone's contemporaries -- men who never won public recognition for their accomplishments -- and discovers that in each case Livingstone's ambition and jealousy led him to distort or ignore their contributions to African exploration. By far the most interesting of the three is Laszlo Magyar, a maverick Hungarian who was settled in Bihe (near Angola), married to a chief's daughter and searching for an east-west traverse of the continent. When Livingstone arrived in the area he was horrified to hear that another European was already well established there, and actually refused to meet Magyar who had gone to great trouble to make contact. Equally unflattering to Livingstone, though better known, are his relationships with William Cotton Oswell, the actual leader and organizer of Livingstone's first expedition to Lake Ngami, and the Portuguese Candido Cardoso whom Livingstone apparently robbed of credit for the discovery of Lake Nyasa. Listowel's conclusion that Livingstone was neither a good missionary nor an important explorer, but primarily a journalist and publicist, is essentially an extrapolation from Jeal. But her access to the Hungarian sources on Magyar, and her personal research in Africa, contribute to the development of a more realistic view of the continent in the mid-19th century -- not the preserve of a solitary, saintly missionary but a magnet for a generation of adventurers. And strangely enough the idealistic Livingstone was merely more disruptive than the others.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1975
Publisher: Scribners