Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



This is a review of Tom Jeal’s Stanley: the Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer. Although perhaps the most carefully researched of the many books of Stanley, the book suffers from its zealous attempt to absolve Stanley of his inhumanity in spite of the most extensive historical evidence of the abominations that he committed against Africans. Instead, Jeal sets out to humanize a historical monster who paved the way for many pogroms committed by the colonial hegemons in Africa. Even deep flaws of character, including self-denial, that were so evident in Stanley are either explained away or excused. The book is a truly incredible attempt to valorize a person many Africans would rather forget.

Publication Title

Human Rights Quarterly

First Page


Last Page



Copyright © 2009 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article was first published in Human Rights Quarterly 31.3 (2009), 806–809. Reprinted with permission by Johns Hopkins University Press.