The Lunatic Express: An Entertainment in Imperialism.

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9780025849402: The Lunatic Express: An Entertainment in Imperialism.

In 1895, George Whitehouse arrived at the east African post of Mombasa to perform an engineering miracle: the building of the Mombasa-Nairobi-Lake Victoria Railway—a 600-mile route that was largely unmapped and barely explored. Behind Mombasa lay a scorched, waterless desert. Beyond, a horizonless scrub country climbed toward a jagged volcanic region bisected by the Great Rift Valley. A hundred miles of sponge-like quagmire marked the railway's last lap. The entire right of way bristled with hostile tribes, teemed with lions and breathed malaria. What was the purpose of this "giant folly" and whom would it benefit? Was it to exploit the rumored wealth of little-known central African kingdoms? Was it to destroy the slave trade? To encourage commerce and settlement? This book explores the building of this great railway in an earlier Africa of slave and ivory empires, of tribal monarchs and the vast lands that they ruled.

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Product Description:

"The Lunatic Express" is the saga of the turbulent international race for the mastery and development of an immense region of East Africa that all but visionaries thought worthless. It is the narrative of the building of the Mombasa-Nairobi-Lake Victoria Railway itself - the colossal six-year enterprise that was to cost #5,000,000 and countless lives, from derailments, collisions, disease, tribal raids and the assaults of wild animals. It is a diorama of an earlier Africa of slave and ivory empires, of sultans and tribal monarchs and the vast lands that they ruled. Above all, it is the story of the white intruders whose combination of avarice, honour and tenacious courage made them a breed apart.

About the Author:

Charles Miller was a popular author and journalist, specializing in historical books on East Africa. His titles include An Entertainment in Imperialism, Battle for Bundu, and The First World War in East Africa. Christian Wolmar is a journalist and railway historian whose books include The Great Railroad Revolution.

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