Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa: Performed Under the Direction and Patronage of the African Association, in the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797
W. Bulmer and Company, 1799 - 372 pages
"Until the publication of Park's book in 1799 hardly anything was known of the interior of Africa, apart from the north-east region and coastal areas. Having sent out four expeditions to the Niger, all of which had failed, the African Association in 1795 charged Mungo Park with the task. Park, a Scot. set sail [on 22 May 1795] to find and explore the Niger. Travelling eastward from the English factory at Pisania (where he learned the Mandingo language) along the River Gambia, Park reached the Niger at Segou and followed its course for about one hundred miles to Sulla, where difficulties forced him to turn back [and on being taken ill he returned to England in 1799] ... Park's Travels had an immediate success and was translated into most European languages. It has become a classic of travel literature, and its scientific observations on the botany and meteorology of the region, and on the social and domestic life of the negroes, have remained of lasting value. Park's career was short but he made the first great practical advance in the opening-up of Central Africa. Park did not solve the problem of the Niger: he believed it to be a tributary of the Nile or to be really identical with the Congo; but he set the further exploration of the region in the right direction" (Printing and the Mind of Man). -- abebooks website.