The Doctor of Zanzibar: John Kirk and the Abolition of Slavery in Africa

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9781845296728: The Doctor of Zanzibar: John Kirk and the Abolition of Slavery in Africa
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John Kirk was the only companion of David Livingstone to emerge untainted from the disastrous, often fatal expedition up the Zambesi river between 1859 and 1863. Three years later, Kirk returned to Africa, to the notorious island of Zanzibar, ancient source of slave trafficking from Africa to the Middle East. Half a century after the abolition of slave trading had been passed into British law, this commerce continued to exist on Africa's east coast, tolerated and even connived at by Britain's empire on the Indian Ocean. But Kirk, appointed as medical officer to the British Consulate in Zanzibar, could do nothing. This extraordinary - and controversial - book brings Kirk's years in Zanzibar to life. The horrors of the overland passage from the interior, and the Zanzibar slave market itself are vividly described. The final bitter conflict with Livingstone, who blamed Kirk for his own disasters, is retold. But it was Kirk's own success in closing down the slave trade on the island which made him internationally famous. Using private diaries and papers, a long forgotten Victorian hero and an extraordinary chapter in British history are revived in detail.

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About the Author:

Alastair Hazell grew up in East Africa and can remember seeing the legacy of slavery as a child. He has worked in various industries in Africa. He now lives in London. This is his first book.

Review:

Genuinely riveting. * The Tablet * It's a spellbinding tale. * Geographical * The book paints a vivid picture of life in East Africa... Alastair Hazell is not afraid to tell a good story. * Times Literary Supplement * There is much to enjoy and reflect upon in this carefully researched and briskly told account. * The Economist * A fascinating forgotten tale. * Metro * Overdue. * Sunday Herald * Alastair Hazell is not afraid to tell a good story . . . [this is] the extraordinary story of how a medical functionary opposed to slavery became the effective ruler of the last of the world's great slave-trading nations. * TLS * This is a humdinger of a tale. You might have thought that journeys into the heart of the Dark Continent with David Livingstone, Henry Morton Stanley and the likes of Richard Burton had already inspired so vast and breathless a literature that there were few surprises left to report. But that's the miracle of this story. Alastair Hazell's genius has been to plough through the huge and well-documented archive, follow his nose, and tell a tale from an entirely new perspective: the life of Dr John Kirk, an early companion to Dr Livingstone, and afterwards a humble Scottish medical officer and Acting British Consul in Zanzibar. In doing so he turns several accounts on their heads, rectifies a seriously skewed picture, rescues a reputation - and on every page enthralls his readers. -- Matthew Parris * The Spectator *

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