“More often than not, real life is so rich, complex and unpredictable that it would seem completely implausible in the pages of a novel.”
New York Times bestselling historian, Candice Millard, reveals the harrowing exploration of the Nile River and its complicated legacy. River of the Gods is a peerless adventure story, set against the backdrop of the colonialist powers’ race to exploit the African continent.
For millennia the location of the Nile River’s headwaters was shrouded in mystery. In the 19th century, in a frenzy of interest in ancient Egypt, European powers sent explorers to map these regions—and extend their colonial empires. Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke were sent to claim the prize for England. Becoming venomous enemies, enduring hardships and setbacks, they each claimed to have found the source. As they were to debate, Speke shot himself.
A third man on the expeditions, his name obscured by imperial annals, proved extraordinary. Sidi Mubarak Bombay, a formerly enslaved person from East Africa, used his resourcefulness, linguistic prowess, and courage to earn a living as a guide. Without Bombay, who led, carried, and protected the expedition, neither Englishman would have come close to the headwaters of the Nile, or perhaps even survived.
Candice Millard’s histories have been New York Times bestsellers and named best books of the year by prominent publications. The River of Doubt won the William Rockhill Nelson Award and was a finalist for the Quill Awards. Destiny of the Republic won an Edgar Award and the PEN Center USA award for Research Nonfiction. Hero of the Empire was an Indie Next pick and Amazon’s number one history book of the year. Millard’s work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, The Guardian, and National Geographic.
The Guardian, January 28, 2017
NPR, July 9, 2017
IN Kansas City, July 1, 2019
“Millard’s lushly detailed adventure story keeps a steady eye on the racial power dynamics involved in this imperialist endeavor and brilliantly illuminates the characters of Burton, Speke, and Bombay. Readers will be riveted.”