The phrase "Dr. Livingstone, I presume!" said by American journalist Henry Morton Stanley upon encountering the explorer in the African jungle, ensured his immortality. Now in this rich volume of essays on his explorations, his medical findings, and his religious beliefs we get a full picture of the great doctor.
The impact that David Livingstone (1813-1873) had on the society of his age (and, on ours) has been extraordinary. In David Livingstone Man, Myth and Legacy, we learn how his appreciation for (and participation in) local herbal medicine treatments helped fill in huge gaps in our early understanding of tropical medicine. Similarly, as the 'discoverer' of Victoria Falls and the first European to cross the width of Southern Africa -- he impacted on exploration and social history as no other individual has done.
Interest in the British abolitionist, missionary and African explorer has never waned and a key contributor in this publication is scholar Adrian Wisnicki whose spectral imaging project, Livingstone’s 1871 Field Diary: A Multispectral Critical Edition, was recently been made available in digital form. Other essays in the book are by British, American and Zambian contributors.
It is very moving that "...Christian thought was the cornerstone of his work... He believed Africa had the potential to become a humane land in which slavery would be replaced with commerce through the development of natural resources... he worked for and with the African peoples... he brought new ways of healing that combined the best that African and Western medicine could offer."
Livingstone was a complicated man - admittedly driven, courageous, compassionate and curious to master knowledge and explore the new. The book covers his harsh early life in the textile mills, his schooling and his faith. His medical innovations included his treatment for malaria which infected his children along with natives (it included quinine, combined with some African remedies). He deducted the disease was related to swampy waters and the mosquito - but did not realize its lethal bite. However, he came close to this discovery by adapting the Arab custom of using nets. He identified ticks as sources of rampant fevers and studied the anatomy of the tsetse fly, identifying its negative impacts on economic development - on livestock and on populations.
His painstaking astronomical positions helped fix African landforms, hereto vaguely described by travelers or in old Arab or Portuguese texts. Victorians got an upbeat picture of Africans - i.e., he chose an illustration on the title page of his Expedition to the Zambesi and its Tributaries - a mother grinding corn as part of their local industry.
Full biographies of the essayists are provided at the book's conclusion. Chapter list:
Exhibiting Livingstone - Sarah Worden (curator, African collections, NMS, African textile specialist)
One of Scotia's 'sons of toil': David Livingstone and Blantyre Mill - Stephen Mullen (University of Glasgow)
Missionary Travels, missionary travails David Livingstone and the Victoria publishing Industry - Justin Livingstone (Research Fellow, University of Glasgow)
Livingstone: natural science and exploration - Lawrence Dritsas (historian of science, U. of Edinburgh)
A pioneer working on the frontiers of western and tropical medicine - Debbie Harrison (U. of London)
Livingstone: from fame to celebrity - Clarie Pettitt (King's College London and author)
Kirk after Zambesi: diplomacy, culture and East Africa - Sarah Longair (University of London)
Remembering David Livingstone: 1873-1935: celebrity to saintliness - Chris Wingfield (Pitt Rivers Museum)
The Livingstone Museum and the Memorialization of David Livingstone in colonial and post-colonial Zambia, 1935-2005 - Friday Mufuzi (Livingstone Museum, Zambia, and University of Zambia)
The David Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project - Adrian S. Wisnicki (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) and Michael B. Toth (Archimedes Palimest Project and R.B. toth Associates)