This coming Monday – May 1, 2023 – marks the 150th anniversary of the death of David Livingstone, the eminent missionary-explorer of southern Africa and truly one of the most consequential individuals who lived in the nineteenth century (1800s). When Livingstone died on May 1, 1873, at a small, isolated village south of Lake Bangweulu in the country today named Zambia, he considered his work as a missionary, explorer and slavery abolitionist as being unfinished and not having fulfilled its intended objectives. But within a few short years of his death and owing to the unparalleled exertions and sacrifices of his life, his noble aims of preparing the way for Christianity and commerce to be established in southern Africa as well as for slavery to be abolished there were brought about by others who followed his pioneering lead and vision.
In the providence of God, the comprehensive biography I have had the privilege of writing about this towering historic figure – David Livingstone: Missionary, Explorer, Abolitionist – is set to be published just two months after the sesquicentennial of his death. July 11, 2023 has been designated as the book’s official release date. I cannot take any credit for the fortuitous timing, as it took me years longer than I ever imagined it would to research and write this volume. But I think it tremendous and significant that in God’s perfect timing the publication of this substantial Livingstone biography coincides with the sesquicentennial of the completion of his extraordinary life and ministry.
It seems tricky to share commendations of one’s own work, because doing so can easily appear to be self-serving, even when that is not intended. But at the same time, the commendations of others are important to lend credibility to one’s work, to verify that others (not just the writer) see marked value in the book. So in that spirit and for that purpose, thanks for permitting me to share some of the positive perspectives that others have written about the forthcoming biography.
Here’s how the publisher, Christian Focus Publications, is describing the volume at its website:
“David Livingstone was one of the most consequential individuals who lived in the nineteenth century. An unpretentious Scottish missionary doctor, explorer and abolitionist, he opened the door for Christianity in southern Africa. Vance Christie’s biography is the most comprehensive and accurate ever written about Livingstone.”
“During his lifetime he was a hero in Britain and beyond, and gained a degree of respect, trust, appreciation and even affection with many African people. He was a man who overcame many deprivations and discouragements, and displayed the utmost measure of courage, self-control, faith, wisdom and ingenuity. Christie takes a balanced look at Livingstone’s amazing achievements, but also at his very real flaws. This gripping in-depth biography is a must-read insight into a fascinating man.”
I am deeply grateful that several noteworthy individuals have kindly provided endorsements to be included in the book. None of them receive any remuneration for doing so, except the sincere gratitude of the author and publisher, as well as the appreciation of those who consider their perspectives in deciding whether or not to read the book.
Vance Christie’s careful chronicle gives readers a three-dimensional David Livingstone: pioneering missionary, dedicated opponent of slavery, ceaseless explorer of an Africa unknown to Europeans, a person of unusually forceful character though far from flawless. By setting Livingstone in the context of his times and through exhaustive, scrupulous reliance on well–attested primary sources, Christie brings “the Doctor” to life as a historical figure, but also as a worthy example for our times as well.
Mark A. Noll, Author of ‘America’s Book: The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911’
I thank God for this fresh biography of David Livingstone, the pioneering missionary explorer of central Africa. He died in 1873 and his heart was buried in Zambia. On the centenary of his death, Zambians held commemorative events in several stadia in honour of this man. Also, the only town in Zambia that remains with a foreign name after its political independence from Great Britain is Livingstone. If you want to understand why a people who were once steeped in spiritual darkness should honour a Christian missionary in this way, read this definitive biography!
Conrad Mbewe, Pastor, Kabwata Baptist Church, Kabwata, Zambia; Founding Chancellor, African Christian University, Lusaka, Zambia
David Livingstone was truly one of the towering figures of his time. And though the times have changed, his name lives on. That makes him a fitting subject for a biography of this magnitude—one that recounts his story and considers his impact on his nation, on this world, and on the history of Christian missions.
Tim Challies, Blogger at www.challies.com
This is a fine Christian biography of a flawed, world-famous, philanthropic evangelist, explorer and physician. Comprehensive and judicious, intended for edification, it is now the best place to start for people looking for a detailed description of this titan’s life and work interpreted in relation to the history of the modern British Empire and Western colonialism.
Douglas A. Sweeney, Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama
Vance Christie takes us into the fascinating life and world of David Livingstone in this comprehensive new biography, utilizing Livingstone and his colleagues’ missionary letters and reports. While sympathetic to Livingstone, Christie provides us with an honest portrayal of the renowned missionary–explorer of southern Africa, and through Livingstone, gives a window into 19th century African history, colonialism, and wider missionary endeavor. Readers will grieve brokenness and sin, while simultaneously marveling at the gracious work of our Lord in advancing his gospel and kingdom through weak means. Highly recommended.
William VanDoodewaard, Professor of Church History, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Greenville, South Carolina
Numerous biographies (and at least one ‘meta’-biography!) have been written about David Livingstone. Vance Christie now offers a substantial retelling of the life of the famous Scottish missionary which is both detailed and readable. Providing extensive citations from primary sources (both Livingstone’s published works and his correspondence) and drawing on the work of previous biographers, Christie presents the life of a remarkable man in a fresh and engaging way and deals with available evidence carefully and honestly. For all the faults of Livingstone and those around him, the story speaks of a man who sought to serve God faithfully and the impact that his life had on Africa.
Alistair Wilson, Lecturer in Mission and New Testament, Edinburgh Theological Seminary, Scotland
Here’s the link to the information the publisher has posted online about the Livingstone biography: https://www.christianfocus.com/products/3110/david-livingstone
Copyright 2023 by Vance E. Christie