- ISBN/SKU: 9781612510798
- Binding: Hardcover & eBook
- Era: 19th Century
- Number of Pages: 288
- Subject: Naval History
- Date Available: June 2013
Lauded for his ability to tell compelling, true adventure stories, award-winning author Andrew C.A. Jampoler has turned his attention this time to a young American naval officer on a mission up the Congo River in May 1885. Lt. Emory Taunt was ordered to explore as much of the river as possible and report on opportunities for Americans in the potentially rich African marketplace. A little more than five years later, Taunt, 39, was buried near the place he had first come ashore in Africa. His personal demons and the Congo’s lethal fevers had killed him. In 2011, to better understand what happened, Jampoler retraced Taunt’s expedition in an outboard motorboat. Striking photographs from the author’s trip are included to lend a visual dimension to the original journey.
Readers join Taunt in his exploration of some 1400 miles of river and follow him on two additional assignments. A commercial venture to collect elephant ivory in the river’s great basin and an appointment as the U.S. State Department’s first resident diplomat in Boma, capital of King Leopold II’s Congo Free State, are filled with promise. But instead of becoming rich and famous, he died alone, bankrupt, and disgraced. Jampoler’s account of what went so dreadfully wrong is both thrilling and tragic. He provides not only a fascinating look at Taunt’s brief and extraordinary life, but also a glimpse of the role the United States played in the birth of the Congo nation, and the increasingly awkward position Washington found itself as stories of atrocities against the natives began to leak out.
Andrew C. A. Jampoler spent twenty-four years as a naval aviator before his retirement from the U.S. Navy in 1986. A resident of Loudoun County, Virginia, he has been writing history books and magazine articles for more than a dozen years, winning the Naval Institute Press’s Author of the Year in 2003 for Adak and Naval History magazine’s Author of the Year in 2006.
~ Praise for Congo ~
“Jampoler is no mere armchair historian. He is also a gifted travel writer. The epilogue contains a fascinating account of the African journey he and his son undertook as part of the research for the book. The two went down the Congo River by small boat from Kisangani to the Atlantic coast in 2011, duplicating a voyage taken by Emory Taunt years earlier. The narrative of the trip is not only splendid reading, but it obviously adds depth and understanding to the author’s description of nineteenth-century Africa because, alas, conditions on the river and the technology of central African river travel seem to have changed little in the last 150 years.”
-International Journal of Maritime History, 2014
“Andrew Jampoler’s scholarly account of the tragi-comical life and death of Taunt, and of the deeds of a surprising cast of associated diplomats, colonial officials, engineers, ivory traders, and whistle-blowers, reveals much of the early history of Leopold II’s notorious Congo Free State…. This book is an important addition to the early history of the Congo and the curious and conflicted U.S. relationship with Africa in the late Victorian era seen through the eyes of Taunt’s misadventures…. Although not in my particular area of interest I would be happy to recommend it as a useful and interesting addition for those who study the period and Africa at a most reasonable price.”
– The Naval Review (UK)
"A fascinatig book that satisfies on many levels."
— Sea Classics
“History is the greatest tool to achieve strategic context, and few publishers so bountifully cater to this reality at a professional level as does the United States Naval Institute Press. One of the latest examples—and there are so many—is its beautiful new publication of Congo… Jampoler’s well-written and contextual Congo is a pleasure to read, but it is also an important book. The more so because of the growing importance of African resources to the global market.”
— Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis
“A fascinating safari…Naval Institute Press of Annapolis has published another winner in Congo, a good summer—or fall—read.”
— Navy Reads blogspot
“This lively, readable, and carefully researched book fills in an intriguing and little-known corner of Congo history. Lieutenant Taunt’s life gives us a revealing glimpse of the gold rush mood of the early days of the ‘Scramble for Africa.’”
—Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost and Bury the Chains
“Anyone wanting to know more about the early history of Leopold II’s notorious Congo Free State will find much intriguing new information in Andrew Jampoler’s scholarly account of the tragi-comical life and death of Lt. Emory Taunt, USN, and of the deeds of a surprising cast of associated diplomats, colonial officials, engineers, ivory traders, and whistle-blowers.”
— Tim Jeal, author of Stanley: The Impossible LIfe of Africa's Greatest Explorer and Explorers of the Nile: The Triumph and Tragedy of a Great Victorian Adventure
“This meticulously researched volume rescues from obscurity a fascinating episode in the history of U.S. relations with Africa: America’s first, tentative efforts at military, diplomatic, and commercial engagement with what is now the rather ironically named Democratic Republic of the Congo in the person of Lt. Emory Taunt, USN. The narrative of the intertwined tragedies of Mr. Taunt and of the Congo is moreover enriched by Andrew Jampoler’s own intrepid effort to retrace his protagonist’s epic journey down the Congo River from Stanley Falls to Atlantic Ocean. . . . Highly recommended.”
—J. Peter Pham, director, Africa Center, Atlantic Council, and editor-in-chief, Journal of the Middle East and Africa
“In 1885 an otherwise undistinguished U.S. Navy lieutenant named Emory Taunt embarked alone on a journey up the Congo River into what was then still called darkest Africa. Soon Taunt was seeking to parlay his presumed expertise into a lucrative contract with businessman Henry Sanford, and when that didn’t pan out, to convince President Cleveland that he should be named U.S. consul to the Congo State. This history of Taunt’s misadventures is a window into the curious and conflicted U.S. relationship with Africa in the late Victorian era, and especially with the Congo basin.”
—Craig L. Symonds, author of The Civil War at Sea and Confederate Admiral