When the First World War breaks out, the British navy is committed to engaging the enemy wherever there is water to float a ship—even if the body of water in question is a remote African lake and the enemy an intimidating fleet of German steamers. The leader of this improbable mission is Geoffrey Spicer-Simson whose navy career thus far had been distinguished by two sinkings. His seemingly impossible charge: to trek overland through the African bush hauling Mimi and Toutou—two forty-foot mahogany gunboats–with a band of cantankerous, insubordinate Scotsmen, Irishmen and Englishmen to defeat the Germans on Lake Tanganyika. With its powerfully evoked landscape, cast of hilariously colorful characters and remarkable story of hubris, ingenuity and perseverance, this incredibly bizarre story–inspiration for the classic film The African Queen
–is history at its most entertaining and absorbing.
"Reads like an amalgam of Evelyn Waugh and Joseph Conrad. The truth is stranger than any fiction, and the pleasure of this book lies in its unbelievable veracity."
—The New York Times Book Review
“Brisk [and] deliciously entertaining. . . . Foden plays up the peculiar details and eccentric personalities of his story.”
"Satisfying. . . . Fast-paced. . . . Filled with fascinating characters."
—The Seattle Times
"[An] enjoyable book. . . . The real story is . . . more fascinating than the movie [The African Queen]."—The Washington Post
"Filled with oddball characters and events that . . . just could not be made up. . . . An amazing tale." —Santa Fe New Mexican