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How can you know about somewhere you’ve never been? This predicament is at the heart of David Lambert’s superb new book, Mastering the Niger: James MacQueen’s African Geography and the Struggle over Atlantic Slavery. In 1841 the Scottish geographer and proslavery propagandist James MacQueen published A New Map of Africa. MacQueen had never visited the continent.
This important new study demonstrates the growing maturity of naval history, for while at first sight it might appear to be aimed at a specialist audience, it skilfully uses a mastery of the specific to enhance our understanding of the general.