A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $28.95
  • Save: $7.08 (24%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 3 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: ... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: A few usual library marks/mylar jacket is present. No imperfections to text/pages in very good condition. Very little handling/shelf wear.
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $2.00
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa Hardcover – June 25, 2012


See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$21.87
$11.00 $2.89

Featured in Presidential & Head of State Biographies & Memoirs
Browse a selection of sponsored titles in Presidential & Head of State Biographies & Memoirs.
$21.87 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 3 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“A spirited reconstruction of the arduous five-year trek into Central Africa by Heinrich Barth (1821–1865), a German scientist exploring for England.... A nicely rounded literary study of an intrepid explorer undone by the cultural biases of the time.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“...He approached his expedition with an open mind and a willingness to engage with those around him regardless of their social status. Barth’s insights into the commonalities that exist among different cultures remain relevant today.” (Booklist)

“Steve Kemper’s elegant, richly rewarding biography should go a long way toward correcting [Barth’s obscurity]. On one level, the book is a superb chronicle of Barth’s travels, from the harrowing heat and physical danger to the dazzling diversity of people he encountered on his path. It’s also an astute character study of a relentlessly curious scientific personality.” (Kate Tuttle - Boston Globe)

“Sometimes a book grabs you by the throat and won’t let you put it down. I recently experienced that with Steve Kemper’s A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa.” (Pamela Toler, author of History in the Margins)

“If you have an ounce of historical exploratory curiosity in your veins, course through this forgotten tale. Timbuktu awaits.” (Robert F. Wells - Expedition News)

About the Author

Steve Kemper is the author of Code Name Ginger. His work has appeared in many national publications, including Smithsonian and National Geographic. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (June 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039307966X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393079661
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've been a freelance journalist for more than 30 years and have written two books: A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa, about the African explorer Heinrich Barth (June 2012), and Code Name Ginger: the Story Behind Segway and Dean Kamen's Quest to Invent a New World (2003), which was selected by Barnes & Noble for its Discover Great New Writers award. Harper published the paperback under the title Reinventing the Wheel.

I've written for many national publications, including Smithsonian, National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Outside, Wall Street Journal, and BBC Wildlife. I'm an adjunct professor at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, got a degree from the University of Detroit, then taught literature and writing at the University of Connecticut while earning a Ph.D. I live in Connecticut.

My website: www.stevekemper.net
My blog: http://blog.stevekemper.net

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
86%
4 star
14%
3 star
0%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 21 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gerald A. Roberts on July 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. This is a fascinating, carefully researched biography of a mid-nineteenth century German explorer who is quite likely the greatest explorer you've never heard of. I've long been an admirer of Richard Francis Burton, and am acquainted with the most famous of the explorers of Africa, but I hadn't heard of Barth.

The book is almost entirely focused on his epic 5+ year journey and seemingly has it all: desert caravans, slave raids, treacherous/opportunistic guides, hostile tribes, robbers and thieves, exotic disease, forced marches through brutal climates and punishing terrain, trade centers, rebellions, bungled communications, political intrigue, suspicious chieftains, eunuchs, harems, etc. You get the idea- it more than holds its own as an adventure story. Considering the many dangers and frequent setbacks, it's incredible he survived.

But what sets Barth apart from other explorers, especially considering the time he lived in, is that he was insatiably curious about, and respectful of, the many cultures he came into contact with as he navigated through several African Kingdoms and many different spheres of political influence. He was a Christian, but was well versed in Islam. He became intimate with sheiks, emirs and other rulers, as well as many ordinary Africans; and as a result he found scholarship, an esteem for learning, complex politics, and probably most surprisingly to Europeans of the time- a history. And he meticulously recorded it all. He was fluent in Arabic, and literally collected African languages as he went along. His treatment of Africans as fellow human beings went a long way in adding to the immense amount of knowledge he came away with.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr.Du on June 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Having read Philbrick's books on sailing adventures I was ready to venture into Africa. The story is about this 1850's adventurer and scientist, H. Barth, a German who travels 10K throughout the continent. The author Kemper has the difficult task of reading Barth's journals and history, along with his own personal travel log to Africa in order to follow Barth's trip. The story is remarkable on many levels, and perhaps more important today than ever as it open the portals of the mind to the often tragic Islamic history, slavery, disease, and beauty of the "undiscovered world" to European scientist.

At times the content can bog the reader down, just by the shear volume of science and descriptions, which can over shadow Barth and his personality. This artful trick lures the reader into the mind of Barth and finally as you close the book the reader becomes one with the scientist as a tragic and yet brilliant figure.

150 years after one of the worlds greatest adventure some things have not changed. Wars, cabal,sickness spiced with cloaks of color and a Murdock like press makes A Labyrinth of Kingdoms a worthy read.
4 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Frank J. Konopka VINE VOICE on October 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Most folks today, if they think about Africa at all, believe it to be the Africa you would see in movies or the old television show "Ramar of the Jungle", a place populated exclusively by natives in loincloths carrying spears and speaking almost unintelligibly. This book shows that these ideas are not the realities that existed before the coming of the European colonial era in the second half of the 19th century.

In the pages of this excellent work, the reader will find the tale of a tenacious German explorer who was part of an expedition to central Africa sponsored by the British government. He spent almost 5 years roaming throughout the middle of Africa, and seeing many kingdoms and "empires" populated by educated and quite learned folks. He was not your usual explorer, for he took the time and the effort to learn the local languages, and also Arabic, which was used in many places because of the establishment of Islam there. Copious notes were taken and drawings and maps created to aid him in describing the area to the world when he returned.

Perhaps the part of the book that may be the most fascinating to readers is his journey to, and stay in, the fabled city of Timbuktu, the "Holy Grail" of all African explorers, along with the search for the source of the Nile. Dr. Barth immersed himself in the local culture, and held educated discussions with both the rulers and learned men of the places where he visited. He went through some ghastly experiences and survived, but his book was not really well received because he downplayed his dangers and concentrated on relating his geographical and linguistic findings. The people at that time, and probably today, were more interested in stories of thrills and adventure, such as those written by Burton and Livingstone.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. A. Good on August 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a fascinating story and compelling person. The book is beautifully written and fully researched. I loved all of the small details gathered from so many sources - a paragraph on roasted locusts, for instance. I only wish the world had remained as open and curious as Barth and not taken the turn towards imperialism.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Format: Hardcover
Steve Kemper puts himself on a par with Byron Farwell with this wonderful book, which is the highest praise I myself can accord to any writer of biographical history. Exhaustively researched, richly informative, and crafted in a very congenial expository style, this is no facile recasting of old copyright-free books on the subject, but rather a well-thought-out, highly intelligent and smooth synthesis of a wide range of pertinent sources, resulting in an original work that reveals a very important chapter in European explorations of Africa, heretofore neglected in the English-speaking world. The amazing but true story shows Heinrich Barth to be the equal of Burton, Stanley, et al. in intrepidity, and their superior in regard to personal humility, and in the objectivity and scholarly thoroughness of his observations on the diverse peoples of Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa, their languages, cultures, and lifeways, since widely extinguished. If you are at all interested in explorations and African history, you must read this book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa
This item: A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa
Price: $21.87
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?