To the Heart of the Nile: Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa

To the Heart of the Nile Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa Prepare to embark upon a breathtaking adventure brimming with hair raising rescues impossible quests danger discovery catastrophe mutiny and uncompromising love all the remarkable because every

  • Title: To the Heart of the Nile: Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa
  • Author: Pat Shipman
  • ISBN: 9780060505554
  • Page: 435
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Prepare to embark upon a breathtaking adventure, brimming with hair raising rescues, impossible quests, danger, discovery, catastrophe, mutiny, and uncompromising love all the remarkable because every word is true Acclaimed New York Times and Los Angeles Times Notable author Pat Shipman now brings to vivid life the times and great achievements of a singular explorPrepare to embark upon a breathtaking adventure, brimming with hair raising rescues, impossible quests, danger, discovery, catastrophe, mutiny, and uncompromising love all the remarkable because every word is true Acclaimed New York Times and Los Angeles Times Notable author Pat Shipman now brings to vivid life the times and great achievements of a singular explorer, a woman of unparalleled courage and spirit who helped redefine her world.Florence Sz sz was a child in Eastern Europe when she witnessed the slaughter of her family during the Hungarian revolution After the war, she was kidnapped from a refugee camp in the Ottoman Empire and sold to be raised for the harem In 1859, at age fourteen, she stood before a room full of men and waited to be auctioned to the highest bidder But slavery and submission were not to be her destiny one of the assembled was moved by compassion and an immediate, overpowering empathy for the helpless young woman His name was Sam Baker, a wealthy English gentleman and eminent adventurer who braved extraordinary perils to aid her escape Ultimately they would wed and venture together into some of the most inaccessible regions on Earth.At this tender age, Florence Baker had already seen and experienced than most women of the Victorian era But the greatest adventures were still before her By the side of the man who had set her free and whose love would remain passionate and constant for the remainder of their lives she forged ahead into literally uncharted territory Together, they confronted disease, starvation, and hostile tribesman, surviving the cruel ravages of beasts and nature in a glorious attempt to unravel a mysterious and magnificent enigma called Africa They returned to England to enjoy the accolades of a society that, if Florence s past became known, would condemn her as a prostitute.Adorned with striking photographs, maps, and illustrations, Pat Shipman s To the Heart of the Nile is an extraordinary achievement an unforgettable portrait of an unforgettable woman a story of discovery, bravery, determination, and love, meticulously reconstructed through journals, documents, and private papers, and told in the inimitable narrative style that has already won this author resounding international acclaim.

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    One thought on “To the Heart of the Nile: Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa”

    1. They say that truth is stranger than fiction and this novel of the amazing life of Florence Baker is truly unbelievable.Barbara Maria Szasz (the future Florence Baker) was born in Transylvania in 1845. At the age of 4 her mother and brothers were murdered by soldiers during the Hungarian Revolution. She then fled with her nursemaid, walking miles, to a refugee camp in the Ottoman Empire. When her nursemaid disappears Florence is kidnapped and taken to a harem where she is raised until the age of [...]

    2. This book is neither historical fiction or biography, but somewhere between the two. Shipman frequently makes up conversations and even events and declares as much in the front matter. I kept wondering, while I was reading, how much Shipman was inventing and how much was factual, or at least sourced.This was particularly frustrating given the fascinating characters and topic. Samuel Baker rescued Florence after a slave auction and found that their shared wanderlust (plus uncertainty about their [...]

    3. This book was so annoying it inspired me to create a new bookshelf for JUNK. I really hate it when writers try to have it both ways, either write a true biography or write historical fiction and claim it as such-there is no shame in writing historical fiction. I realize that to a point, all biographers, must make assumptions. However, in well written bios, it is clear what is fact and what is opinion or educated guessing by the author based on research. No one claiming to be a legitimate scholar [...]

    4. Last month I read this short book titled When Hitler took Cocaine and Lenin list His Brain by Giles Milton where I stumbled across this story of a an English Gentleman, Samuel Baker, in 1860 who rescues a girl, Florence, from being enslaved in a harem in the Ottoman empire. I found the story to be so fascinating that I did some research to see what else could be found out of this story and that's when I found To the Heart of the Nile by Pat Shipman. This is a fascinating story of a couple that b [...]

    5. I read this book when it first came out in 2004. I found the book to be very enlightening and well written. I had read a review in LA Times book review at the time and the reviewer had criticized the author for recreating dialog between Sam and Florence. The author did take a lot of her information from diaries and probably did have to fill in at some points, but it was based on thorough research. Sometimes the author is forced to invent some conversations in order to make the story cohesive. I [...]

    6. Based on fact, this account of the exploration of Africa and the Nile by a couple in the 1850's reads more like fiction and makes a fascinating read. As long as one keeps in mind that the author is taking some literary license in describing the thoughts and conversation of her characters, the adventures, trials and tribulations described are amazing. This book really caught my imagination.

    7. A European orphaned at four years old, abducted into an Ottoman harem, and raised to become a concubine, Barbara Maria Szasz stood at a white slave auction, ordered to turn so that men could look at the round of her buttocks, the shape of her breasts, the dimple of her cheek, the depth of her eyes. Renamed Florenz, at fourteen she was a fetching prize for the highest bidder, the Pasha of Viddin. She would lead a comfortable life as a toy for his nightly visits until her breasts began to sag and [...]

    8. The fascinating story of Florence Baker who was orphaned and raised in a harem in the Ottoman empire as a white slave. It is a fictionalized version, but largely based on journals written by herself and other characters in the story, so I believe mostly represents truthful events. When she was taken to the slave market to be sold, she caught the attention of Sam Baker, an English gentleman, who was hunting in the area. He managed to spirit her away from the harem with the help of her eunuch prot [...]

    9. First off, the subject matter was fascinating - Florence and Sam Baker had amazing lives. Florence started as a harem slave after trouble in Hungary (which I went and looked up on ,) The attendant description of the harem as being much like a convent school was probably as surprising to me as it was to Sam Baker, although I have no doubt that it was apt. Their exploration of Central Africa was a fascinating story. And then there's the whole assimilation ito English society, which was yet another [...]

    10. Guess what happened in the 1860s? People died. All the time. Guess what happened when you went to Africa in the 1860s? Even more people died, and they did so in horrible and uncomfortable ways.Florence Baker and her husband were two early explorers of Africa, and, while Shipman claims this nonfiction book is about Florence, it is just as much a story of Sam Baker. The two are an inextricably sickening couple, in a somewhat romantic way (although it can be argue about how much on Florence's side [...]

    11. This biography started about fast and very interesting - it is the story of a young girl from Hungary who ended up in a harem in Bulgaria, then part of the Ottoman empire. In 1859, she was to be sold at a "virgin auction" but she was rescued by Samuel Baker, a Victorian explorer who was at the auction with an Indian maharajah. They run away together, explore Africa and have many adventures searching for the source of the White Nile (in modern Sudan), marry and take England by storm (while concea [...]

    12. Biography of amazing Lady Baker and her husband Sir Sam, who found her at a slave auction in the old Ottoman Empire, stole her away from the winner, and took her to the heart of Africa at a time when proper white English ladies did not venture so far. But far from an impediment on his journeys, Florence was his soul mate, companion, friend, co-worker and advisor. It was, as Florence said, a "love match" at a time when proper white English ladies did not often find such. Of course, Florence didn' [...]

    13. This is a good read - an interesting story about a fascinating woman, Florence Szasz Baker, and her husband Samuel, and their explorations of the source of the White Nile. The travails they endured in this pursuit were hair-raising, and their perseverance in their goal and their devotion to each other are admirable. The continuation of these travails in their second expedition, in which one of their aims was the eradication of slavery and the abduction of slaves, was almost more than this reader [...]

    14. Lady Florence Baker accompanied her husband Sir Samuel Baker on several expeditions in Africa and Sudan. They discovered the source of the White Nile and named Lake Albert. They also worked to abolish the slave trade. This is the story of their amazing love affair and partnership begins when Sam attends a harem slave auction and rescues Florence. I read this book because my best friend's family is related to Sir Samuel and I grew up hearing about his adventures. This book explains the history, p [...]

    15. I'd actually go with 3 and a half stars for this one. It's a really interesting story of a woman who lost her family at such a young age that she hardly remembered them, was raised in a harem (which is apparently not like we'd think), and was about to be sold as a slave when an Englishman came to her rescue and stole her away. They fell in love and ventured down the Nile together to help search for it's source. Needless to say that in 1865 that was adventuresome. The book's interesting and prett [...]

    16. Not written in a style that appeals to everyone, I still found this book fascinating. The history of British colonialism in central Africa is an area where I am sadly ignorant. The depiction of British attempts to curb the culture of slavery along the Nile - primarily supported by Turkish elements - was also an eyeopener, particularly in light of the U.S.A.'s sad history of human trafficking. Lady Florence Baker's position as co-discoverer of the source of the Nile in an era when women were gene [...]

    17. Best book I have read for ages and I don't usually like factual books. The true story of Sam and Florence Baker was told as in fiction with them relating what was going on, their feelings etc though of course these were really the words of the author, Pat Shipman. The sources for her 'facts' are found at the end of the book. Small pictures and maps also lighten the factual content. Above all, it is a fascinating tale of 19th Century exploration in Africa akin to the stories of my favourite ficti [...]

    18. A little bit of a stretch. The author writes the history through the source material of letters and journal entries, but makes a lot of suppositions about the state of mind of her subjects. It was charming but could be exasperating at times.It also didn't help that the racist attitudes of the 19th century European protagonists were mainly towards the people of the Sudan (which I am from). I frequently found myself hoping that the natives would just fall upon them and kill them in the equatorial [...]

    19. Wow! What an interesting bookd what fascinating people. I would dearly love to sit down for a month or so and talk to Sir Samuel and Lady Baker. If the story of their lives were written as a novel no one would believe it, it's just too improbable.This is a great read for anyone interested in history of the British Empire and African exploration. I love an adventure but was very grateful that I traveled with the Bakers from the comfort of my armchair. They packed a lot of living into their lives! [...]

    20. Meh. The subject matter is very interesting, and the story is good enough. I just couldn't get over some lousy writing. Pat Shipman gives her subjects inner thoughts and emotions, which breaks a cardinal rule of historical writing but was okay by me. She also includes a lot of pictures, which I enjoyed. It should have been an engaging book, but it just wasn't. The phrase, "she had the heart of a lion" was used way too much.

    21. An almost unbelievable biography of a girl who is rescued from being sold into a harem by a British explorer who happens to be present at the auction. They fall in love despite an age gap and set out to find the source of the Nile together. They make two long forays into Central Africa that are cliffhangers. All this is set during the Victorian era. Less interesting is their time back in England when they become Lord and Lady Baker.

    22. This is one of the more fascinating stories about the Victorian age of exploration, and one hardly anyone knows anything about. Going from slavery in a Turkish Harem to fame as the wife and partner of one of the great British explorers is as fascinating a journey as the search for the source of the Nile itself. Really enjoyed it.

    23. Interesting insight into the lives of a devoted couple in Victorian times who made two major expeditions to try to discover the source of the Nile, at great personal cost. They did however escape with their lives, which is more than can be said for many of the local people who were recruited to help them on their way.Read my full Bookcrossing review, bookcrossing/journal/7.

    24. Having to give up on this book- it sounded so interesting but the author makes up so many silly conversations and brings in unlikely connections it is just too annoying. Reads not like a biography but more Rip- roaring Tales for Girls. I would have loved this when I was 12.

    25. Lady Baker and her husband spent years exploring the Nile and went through horrendous trials. Why they took a second trip after almost not surviving the first is not clear to me. Lady Baker was quite a character, however, coming from a harem and being bought by her future husband.

    26. Picked up this book at the library on a whim. Glad I did. Florence was a remarkable woman and I would love to have met her. The story was well paced and from the first few pages I was drawn into the lives of Sam and Florence.

    27. A good-enough biography of an important English geographer/ explorer and his unusual wife. Wouldn't recommend it to people uninterested in Africa, the British Empire, and/or biographies. Somewhat emotional and speculative.

    28. I didn't quite finish this book but I'm on to other things now. Hopefully I'll have a chance to finish it when I study Egypt again. I liked the story, and especially liked that it told the real story of Lady Florence Baker and her exploration into Egypt.

    29. More like 3.5 stars. This was a compelling and very readable story, but written more like a novel and less like history. Far too much dialogue placed in quotations that was wholly imagined by the author.

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