Giles Foden was born in England in 1967 and grew up in Africa. The author of three novels, he writes for the books pages of The Guardian. In 1998 he won the Whitbread First Novel Award and a Somerset Maugham Award.
At the height of WWI, as armies of thousands fought with each other on European soil, a much more unusual battle was waged in eastern Africa, where Belgian and German colonial territories were separated by the second largest body of water on the continent, Lake Tanganyika. An English big-game hunter living in the region came up with a plan to take out the German warships that patrolled the lake, and command of the mission was given to Geoffrey Spicer-Samson, a career officer whose boorish incompetence had earned him the dubious distinction of being the oldest lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy. Foden (The Last King of Scotland) delivers his novelistic skills with full effect in depicting the absurdity of Spicer and his campaign, from the self-designed skirts he wore to combat the heat to his status as "Navyman God" among the local natives when his small motorboats-named with the French words for "miaow" and "bow-wow"-actually managed to capture and sink much larger enemy ships. Charming illustrations at the head of each chapter, along with the hand-drawn maps, further add to this tale's quirky appeal. Closing chapters add a poignant epilogue, explaining how Spicer's story inspired C.S. Forester's The African Queen, and noting the disappearance of the events from the memory of modern Tanzanians. Foden's engrossing account is not just for military historians or lovers of exotic locales; it should please anyone who loves a good story. (Apr. 7) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
As World War I heats ups, a ragtag bunch of Brits carry two gunboats across 2800 miles of Africa to challenge the Germans on Lake Tanganyika.Yes, it's nonfiction-from a British journalist who grew up in Africa. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"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."--Chicago Tribune"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