Review: David Livingstone Africa’s Trailblazer

For the recent episode of Missionary Talks where I give a biography of David Livingstone, I pulled most of my reading and research from the book David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer by Janet and Geoff Benge. This book is published by YWAM (Youth With a Mission) Publishing and is just one in a series called Christian Heroes: Then & Now.

I assume this book is written for a teenage level. It certainly is readable and understandable for younger readers. I read it to my son a couple of years ago when he was 7 and he enjoyed it.

The book seems to be well written. I did not have any glaring questions after having read the book. However, after doing more research into the life of Dr. Livingstone I found out that there were some interesting facts not even mentioned in the book. One such fact was that he was injured and mostly blinded in one eye. Seems to be a simple enough thing to have included in a book, but it was not even alluded to within its covers.

What I really enjoyed about the book was the inclusion of a simple map of Livingstone’s travels. It shows the southern part of Africa where Dr. Livingstone traveled along with the place names where major events took place in his life. The only thing better they could have done with it is to show which African nations are currently in those areas. Doing so would have been neat to see, but I realize that it would have taken away from the simplicity of the map. And, the fact that the African countries as we know them today just did not exist back then. It was just Africa.

Of course the book is written from a decidedly Christian perspective. Livingstone is held up as a model of Christian missions. Less emphasis was placed on his work as a government explorer. And, not surprisingly, little emphasis is placed on his failures as a man. Though the authors touch on some of his project failures, they say little about the interpersonal conflicts that he had.

The book is very emotional and a good read. It was published in 1999 and has 216 pages.

[click on the image to buy the book at Amazon.com]

4 thoughts on “Review: David Livingstone Africa’s Trailblazer”

  1. I came here to see the book you used and that’s the very book we read in our book club; however, my hub had gotten a book from our church David Livingstone, First to Cross Africa with the Gospel by Mrs. J. H. Worcester, Jr., which would also have a decidedly Christian perspective, although it does mention his life resolved itself into 4 distinct periods, starting, of course with his “ordinary” missionary work, then his journey under the London Missionary Society, then the govt expedition, then his journeys under the Royal Geographical Society. I would like to know more about the interpersonal conflicts you mention; this book does say he was driven his first own station by the jealousy of a colleague vexed by the attention his letters were getting in England but I don’t attribute that to his fault; just sad, have heard of this type thing before with our missionaries; furthermore, at least according to this book, he rose above it with a noble spirit and refused to have any scandal before the Africans he was working with, and just to go where he was wanted.

    It was mentioned about the map; very nice to have, especially since we’d just finished another book that could have used one. We would have liked to have seen the other names of the places, like rivers; not sure whether to say old or new

    This book never mentioned anything about his eye, either, would love to know where you found that

Leave a Reply