In the 20th century, African travel took on a new look. Item 55 is The Black Journey, Across Africa with the Citroen Expedition, by Georges-Marie Haardt and Louis Audouin-Dubreuil. Haardt and Audouin-Dubreuil took five specially fitted Citroens to Algeria, and proceeded to drive across the Sahara to Timbuktu, a journey of 20 days. The Citroens were half-tracks, vehicles that used regular tires in the front to steer, but tank-like tracks in the rear to enable them to maneuver across all types of terrain. This 1922 trip was the first such crossing of the desert, and two years later these same intrepid explorers would complete an even longer African journey in their Citroens. $50.
By 1953, it was possible to take an even more serious trip by car. Item 83 is Lars-Henrik Ottoson's Mara Moja, From Northernmost Scandinavia to the Cape of Good Hope. Actually it was more, as they had to drive back home once they reached the southern tip of Africa. The journey was 40,000 miles and took them through 34 countries. It took 13 months and 1,450 gallons of fuel. And, they did it all in a VW bus. Hopefully, they didn't have to climb any mountains. How they managed the “roads,” if that's what some of them can be called, and the internal situations of so many countries is hard to fathom. $75.
Item 100 is What Led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile, by John Speke, published in 1864. There is much intrigue behind this story. Speke had accompanied the great explorer Richard Burton on a journey in attempt to discover the source of the Nile. Both became quite ill, but Speke, though half blind, was able to continue on to Lake Victoria. Speke concluded that this was the river's source. Burton disagreed. Speke returned, without Burton, reiterated his conclusion, and published this book to establish his claim. Burton still demurred. The result was that a debate was scheduled between the two men later in the year this book was published. Speke went hunting with his cousin and another the day before the great debate. While out of clear view of the others and climbing a wall, Speke's gun discharged. The bullet ripped through his lungs. Fifteen minutes later, Speke lay dead. It has been a matter of debate ever since. Did the gun accidentally discharge, or did Speke intentionally kill himself rather than face the skilled debater Burton? We will never know, but we do know that Speke was right about the source of the Nile, Burton wrong. $2,000.