“This lively, readable, and carefully researched book fills in an intriguing and little-known corner of Congo history. Lieutenant Taunt’s life gives us a revealing glimpse of the gold rush mood of the early days of the ‘Scramble for Africa.’”—ADAM HOCHSCHILD, author of King Leopold’s Ghost

“This meticulously researched volume rescues from obscurity a fascinating episode in the history of U.S. relations with Africa: America’s first, tentative efforts at military, diplomatic, and commercial engagement with what is now the rather ironically named Democratic Republic of the Congo in the person of Lt. Emory Taunt, USN. The narrative of the intertwined tragedies of Mr. Taunt and of the Congo is moreover enriched by Andrew Jampoler’s own intrepid effort to retrace his protagonist’s epic journey down the Congo River from Stanley Falls to Atlantic Ocean. . . . Highly recommended.” —J. PETER PHAM, director, Africa Center, Atlantic Council, and editor-in-chief, Journal of the Middle East and Africa “In 1885 an otherwise undistinguished U.S. Navy lieutenant named Emory Taunt embarked alone on a journey up the Congo River into what was then still called darkest Africa. Soon Taunt was seeking to parlay his presumed expertise into a lucrative contract with businessman Henry Sanford, and when that didn’t pan out, to convince President Cleveland that he should be named U.S. consul to the Congo State. This history of Taunt’s misadventures is a window into the curious and conflicted U.S. relationship with Africa in the late Victorian era, and especially with the Congo basin.” —CRAIG L. SYMONDS, author of The Civil War at Sea and Confederate Admiral

“Anyone wanting to know more about the early history of Leopold II’s notorious Congo Free State will find much intriguing new information in Andrew Jampoler’s scholarly account of the tragi-comical life and death of Lt. Emory Taunt, USN, and of the deeds of a surprising cast of associated diplomats, colonial officials, engineers, ivory traders, and whistle-blowers.” —TIM JEAL, author of Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer



auded for his ability to tell compelling, true adventure stories, award-winning author Andrew C. A. Jampoler recounts the experiences of a young American naval officer on a dangerous, solo mission up the Congo River in May 1885. Lt. Emory Taunt, USN, was ordered to explore as much of the river as possible and report on opportunities for Americans in the potentially rich African marketplace. This journey into the heart of Africa inspired his hopes that a commercial venture to collect elephant ivory in the river’s great basin and, later, an appointment as the U.S. State Department’s first resident diplomat in Boma, capital of King Leopold II’s Congo Free State, were filled with promise. Instead of becoming rich and famous, however, he died alone, bankrupt, and disgraced. A little more than five years after setting forth on his mission, Taunt, thirty-nine, was buried near the place he had first come ashore in Africa, a victim of both his personal demons and the Congo’s lethal fevers. In 2011, to better understand what Taunt experienced during his African expeditions, Jampoler used an outboard motorboat to retrace Taunt’s exploration of some 1,400 miles of river and to follow him on two additional assignments. This present-day voyage provides not only a fascinating look at Taunt’s brief and extraordinary life, but also a glimpse at the role the United States played in the birth of the Congo nation, and the increasingly awkward position in which Washington found itself as stories of atrocities by the Belgians against the natives began to leak. Jampoler’s account of what went so dreadfully wrong is both thrilling and tragic, illustrated with striking photographs from the author’s trip that lend a visual dimension to the original journey.
ANDREW C. A. JAMPOLER spent twenty-four years as a naval aviator before his retirement from the U.S. Navy in 1986. A resident of Loudoun County, VA, he has been writing history books and magazine articles for more than a dozen years, winning the Naval Institute Press’ Author of the Year in 2003 for Adak and Naval History magazine’s Author of the Year in 2006.

CONGO: The Miserable Expeditions and Dreadful Death of Lt. Emory Taunt, USN
By Andrew C. A. Jampoler Publication date: 15 June 2013 272 pages, 31 illustrations, 5 maps, notes, select bibliography, index. Hardcover list price: $44.95 │ £35.50 │ ISBN: 978-1-61251-079-8 eBook edition also available at publication date. History • Naval
AT BOOKSTORES, ONLINE, OR DIRECT: Customer Service U.S. Naval Institute 291 Wood Road Annapolis, MD 21402 800-233-8764/410-268-6110 MEDIA QUERIES, REVIEW COPIES, & EXCERPT INFO, CONTACT: Judy Heise, Publicist NAVAL INSTITUTE PRESS 291 Wood Road Annapolis, MD 21402 410-295-1028 / Fax: 410-295-1084 IN ENGLAND AND EUROPE, CONTACT: EUROSPAN GROUP 3 Henrietta Street London WC2E 8LU United Kingdom Tele: 1767 604972

The World’s Leading Naval and Military Publisher since 1898 . On line at

Become a fan on Facebook

or Follow us on

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful