A noble rescue mission descends into a nightmare of cruelty, starvation and cannibalism - bringing to a close the European exploration of Africa.
Henry Morton Stanley - the man who found Dr Livingstone - undertook the greatest African expedition of the nineteenth century.
The ostensible aim was to rescue Emin Pasha, last lieutenant of the murdered General Gordon and governor of southern Sudan.
Instead of ten months, Stanley's trip took three years and cost the lives of thousands of people, as his column hacked its way through the Congo - the last great unexplored territory in Africa.
Stanley's secret agenda was territorial expansion; and what is revealed so vividly in the accounts of those who accompanied him is the dark underside of both the man and the colonial impulse.