An African Younghusband – the compelling story of a great adventurer.
Ewart Grogan, 'the baddest and boldest of a bad bold gang' of settlers in Kenya, was one of the most brilliant and controversial figures of African colonial history.
When he proposed to a young heiress, Gertrude Coleman, he needed to prove himself a 'somebody' to her father in order to win her hand. He did so in inimitable style, announcing that he intended to accomplish the first south-to-north traverse of Africa. In 1900, after two years of illness and extreme hardship, he arrived triumphantly in Cairo.
He became an instant celebrity, and, on returning to England, at last married Gertrude. Now with a considerable fortune at his disposal, after a short bu succesful spell in South Africa he arrived in British East Africa. He quickly became a leader among the settlers, and embarked on a lifetime of grand projects, forced through despite government inertia, enormous natural obstacles and the looming threat of bankruptcy. Time after time he proved the doubters wrong, as he pulled off the seemingly impossible. Despite this frenetic activity, and despite his love for Gertrude, he still managed to find the time to run two separate families and father numerous children by various mothers.
The abrasive and glamorous Grogan, with Delamere, was one of the founding fathers of Kenya – Lost Lion of Empire is a brilliant and powerful account both of the life of an exceptional man and the birth of a country.
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INITIAL REVIEWS FROM NATIONAL PRESS
1. Eminent historian Andrew Roberts writing in the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: 'Men like Ewart Grogan would have cut a swathe in any period of British history...This is a completely wonderful biography'.
2. Jeremy Lewis in the SUNDAY EXPRESS: 'Grogan's biographer, himself an Africa hand, has given the old boy the memorial he deserves'. **** (TERRIFIC)
3. Andrew Lycett in LITERARY REVIEW: 'Paice tells this thrilling story very readably, showing skill in his use of sources and a sure touch in relating Africa to wider historical developments.'From the Back Cover:
Ewart Grogan, a gentleman adventurer, dubbed 'the boldest and baddest of the bold, bad gang' of pioneering settlers in Kenya, was gifted far beyond the ordinary. Possessed of disarmingly good looks, magnetic charm, a formidable intellect and a near boundless ego, he was famed throughout the British empire as one of the most brilliant – and controversial – figures in African colonial history.
By the age of twenty-two Grogan had been elected the youngest ever member of the Alpine Club and was a Matabele War veteran. But his prospects were far from certain when he fell in love with a young heiress and he was required by her stepfather to prove himself a 'somebody' in order to win her hand. Grogan's response was typically unequivocal: he announced that he intended to be the first man to complete a south-to-north traverse of the African continent. In 1900, after almost three years of adventure and almost unimaginable hardship, he arrived triumphantly in Cairo, thus completing one of the most astonishing feats in the history of African exploration. He became an instant celebrity and returned to London to marry his beloved Gertrude.
Africa was now in Grogan's blood. After a brief spell serving in Lord Milner's 'Kindergarten', that elite group of young imperialists charged with the reconstruction of post-war South Africa, he decided to settle in British East Africa. There he was immediately acknowledged as a leader by his fellow pioneers, and embarked on a lifetime of grand and seemingly over ambitious designs. In founding the country's timber industry, building Mombassa's first deep water port, constructing east Africa's finest hotel and its first children's hospital, as well as in countless other initiatives undertaken to prove that the country was economically viable, the man whom Africans called 'bwhana chui' (The leopard) countered all obstacles – natural, governmental and financial – with the same passionate determination. His personal life was as colourful as his career in business and politics: remarkably and despite his unwavering adoration for Gertrude, he succeeded in running three separate families simultaneously. The dazzling and maverick Grogan was a founding father of colonial Kenya, and one of only a handful of participants in the Scramble for Africa who also witnessed decolonisation. Asked in later life to impart the secret of his longevity Grogan mischievously replied: "to smoke very heavily, drink and eat very little and not take anything in life too seriously".
'Lost Lion of Empire' is a brilliant and powerful account both of the life of an exceptional man and the birth of a country.
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Book Description Harper UK, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # SONG0002570033
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