Thursday, November 05, 2009

Pg. 99: Bertrand Taithe's "The Killer Trail"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: The Killer Trail: A Colonial Scandal in the Heart of Africa by Bertrand Taithe.

About the book, from the publisher:
Historian Bertrand Taithe here offers a gripping account of one of the most disturbing atrocities to take place during the European "scramble for Africa," a real life story that prefigures fictional accounts such as Heart of Darkness. The Voulet-Chanoine mission left Dakar in 1898 for the Lake Chad region, hoping to establish effective borders between the French and British empires and "pacify" a notoriously belligerent region. The mission soon degenerated into a grisly display of colonial violence, leaving a trail of pillage, murder, and enslavement in its wake. When the story of its outrages reached Paris, there was a public uproar and a second mission was dispatched to investigate. Eventually, on July 14 1899, the two missions clashed in a dramatic shootout, which led Voulet and Chanoine to declare independence from France and to establish an African kingdom under their own rule. But their mad dreams of kingship were cut short when the African soldiers under their command mutinied and killed them both. Was this bloody episode the consequence of two men's madness, or of a far wider set of attitudes?
Read more about The Killer Trail at the Oxford University Press website.

Bertrand Taithe is Professor of Cultural History at the University of Manchester.

The Page 99 Test: The Killer Trail.

--Marshal Zeringue