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David Livingstone: Africa's Trailblazer

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"Each true story in this series by outstanding authors Janet and Geoff Benge is loved by adults and children alike. More Christian Heroes: Then & Now biographies and unit study curriculum guides are coming soon. Fifty-five books are planned, and thousands of families have started their collections Braving danger and hardship, David Livingstone crisscrossed vast uncharted r "Each true story in this series by outstanding authors Janet and Geoff Benge is loved by adults and children alike. More Christian Heroes: Then & Now biographies and unit study curriculum guides are coming soon. Fifty-five books are planned, and thousands of families have started their collections Braving danger and hardship, David Livingstone crisscrossed vast uncharted regions of Africa to open new frontiers and spread the message of the gospel to all who would listen (1813-1873).


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"Each true story in this series by outstanding authors Janet and Geoff Benge is loved by adults and children alike. More Christian Heroes: Then & Now biographies and unit study curriculum guides are coming soon. Fifty-five books are planned, and thousands of families have started their collections Braving danger and hardship, David Livingstone crisscrossed vast uncharted r "Each true story in this series by outstanding authors Janet and Geoff Benge is loved by adults and children alike. More Christian Heroes: Then & Now biographies and unit study curriculum guides are coming soon. Fifty-five books are planned, and thousands of families have started their collections Braving danger and hardship, David Livingstone crisscrossed vast uncharted regions of Africa to open new frontiers and spread the message of the gospel to all who would listen (1813-1873).

30 review for David Livingstone: Africa's Trailblazer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Goodbrand

    Wasn’t the best. I was really annoyed that David was so estranged from his kids and wife. 2.5 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I was disturbed at how little this Christian book about a Christian man spoke of God's work in his life. It is well-written and it is interesting, but it is missing the most important things. If you were to believe this book, David Livingstone accomplished what he did largely because of his own personal qualities. Very little talk about answers to prayer. Almost nothing about his own dependence on God. Nothing about his conversion. Nothing about his own struggles with sin. He is a "hero" and the I was disturbed at how little this Christian book about a Christian man spoke of God's work in his life. It is well-written and it is interesting, but it is missing the most important things. If you were to believe this book, David Livingstone accomplished what he did largely because of his own personal qualities. Very little talk about answers to prayer. Almost nothing about his own dependence on God. Nothing about his conversion. Nothing about his own struggles with sin. He is a "hero" and the focus is on him, not on what God did through him. How different is this from what Hudson Taylor said: "all God's giants have been weak men who counted on God being with them." I imagine the authors didn't want the book to be preachy, however, it could easily have given praise to God without being preachy. But I would argue more than this, I would argue we need books a little preachy when it comes to the fact that exploits for God are not done in our strength but in His strength. If we teach our children that those who have done the most for the kingdom did it because of their own personal determination and perseverance, they may decide they could never measure up and never even try to be a missionary. Could it be that such books as this one which presumably extol missions are actually killing missions? Certainly fewer and fewer people are going to the mission field. Is it because of the missionary biographies we have been giving them as children? What would happen if we gave them biographies filled with the weaknesses of men and the shortcomings of men (Much like how the Bible presents men) and the greatness of God who used them in spite of themselves? Would we then see more young people willing to venture wholly on such a God, whose strength is made perfect in weakness, to venture even to the furthest corners of the earth? I speak as one who has gone to some of the furthest corners of the earth and whose courage didn't come from any personal qualities, on the contrary, all I saw in myself were reasons to stay home, my courage came from what I knew God could do and from what I had seen him do in the lives of the missionaries I have read about. Our children need the same stories, stories that emphasize God's grace and power, even if it becomes a little preachy at times, because only there will they get the courage to go themselves. I went through the book, looking for references to reliance on self and missed opportunities to give God the credit. Here's what I found: "Other people might drop out, David thought to himself as he read, but not me." "Captain Donaldsen's stubborn determination kept the ship afloat. " "Then, to David surprise, clarity suddenly came to his mind." "In an instant, a plan flashed through David's mind." "So David's threat to tell people in Europe what the Boers were up to changed the Boers minds about attacking and won the day." "He had done it. He had made the 2000 mile journey..." The references to God and answers to prayer were few and far between and generally anemic. The best reference was of David opening to Psalm 121 and reading the verse about "my help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth" I would encourage parents to screen the books they give their children for these things. Don't just assume that because it claims to be a Christian book that it has a Christian message. Many parents are careful to ensure that the books their children read don't have the bad things as defined by Hollywood, bad words, innuendos, graphic violence, but there are a host of things that are bad for our children that Hollywood knows nothing about. Self-reliance and self-righteousness are far more dangerous and have, I fear, undermined far more gospel teaching than Hollywood-ratings-based immorality.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    The book was fine, but I didn't have a very good feeling about David Livingstone by the time I finished it. He seemed to have very little concern for his family, leaving them for months at a time, or putting them in dangerous situations over and over again. At one point he promised his wife he would meet her in Scotland in 2 years, 4-1/2 years later he realized how long ago he had made his promise and finally made the trip home. I understand his compulsion to share the Gospel with the African pe The book was fine, but I didn't have a very good feeling about David Livingstone by the time I finished it. He seemed to have very little concern for his family, leaving them for months at a time, or putting them in dangerous situations over and over again. At one point he promised his wife he would meet her in Scotland in 2 years, 4-1/2 years later he realized how long ago he had made his promise and finally made the trip home. I understand his compulsion to share the Gospel with the African people, but doesn't your family count for something too? His children hardly knew him. He wasn't around enough to do his job as their father!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    We read this as part of Sonlight's year 7. My student enjoyed the story very much as he had just traveled to Africa and I think it was well-written, but it does leave one wanting to know the 'real' story. It also makes one wonder about how some incredibly brave men are not exactly great family men. Maybe that is just the way it has to be for trails to be blazed, but it is sobering.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy Meyers

    The book was well-written, as evidenced by my taking a few hours to read ahead and finish it before I even read it to the children. We're reading this to supplement our studies on Africa. The book didn't hide some decisions he made that would bring criticism. I understand that he was a hero in his day, and I understand why as well. But it's very sad that he sacrificed his wife and children to his goals for Africa. It's hard to see the connection between what he did and how it helped stop the sla The book was well-written, as evidenced by my taking a few hours to read ahead and finish it before I even read it to the children. We're reading this to supplement our studies on Africa. The book didn't hide some decisions he made that would bring criticism. I understand that he was a hero in his day, and I understand why as well. But it's very sad that he sacrificed his wife and children to his goals for Africa. It's hard to see the connection between what he did and how it helped stop the slave trade, admirable as the endeavor was. It's easier to speculate that if he hadn't opened up the interior of Africa through his exploration and maps, it would have taken much longer for missionaries to reach the interior. However, I still wonder how much he eventually did for the mission cause of Christ, while I still admire his courage and tough spirit. He was indirectly the cause of other missionaries' deaths as well, by promoting their coming without the way being readied yet. It was tragic to hear of his oldest son's death in America's Civil War. The book held special interest for us, as missionaries to the Tsonga and Venda-speaking people in South Africa. While our people weren't referenced in the book, I had never before heard of the cruelties of the Boers in killing and enslaving villages of the north and west. I had read that the Boers began their great Trek because they didn't want to give up their slaves under British rule, and I'd heard of their fights with the Zulus. However, the book had an error about the "Bantu" language being "tonal," and it makes me wonder if there are other errors, such as when they described Livingstone going through villages that were all burned with piles of bones, etc., and thinking that it was due to the slave trade. I'd like to read a reference from Livingstone on that, because during that time, the Matabele chief referenced in the book (Mzilikasi) who ran away from Shaka had murdered hundreds of thousands--no one knows how many--on his way to the north of Zimbabwe. So it is possible to probable that LIvingstone was witnessing the aftermath of Mzilikasi's destruction, and that Benge just assumed he was seeing evidences of the slave trade. It's hard to know how much Benge has researched each book, and I'm not slandering her work when I say that. She did good research for a children's book. But "Bantu" refers to a whole sub-Saharan set of tribal languages that are all built on similar structures. It is not tonal like the Chinese language (as I've heard). There may be difficulties with similar pronunciations: the Venda language has two kinds of "L" and four kinds of "T" for example, but it's still not tonal. The differences are in the teeth and tongue, etc. It's not an important point, but it made me doubt the veracity of some other things, such as the accounts of the Boers--I wasn't sure how much to believe about that.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rlouiseg

    This book is well written and easy to read. The story of David's life is quite an amazing one. I really felt for his family though who hardly saw him.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hank Pharis

    Yet another incredible hero of faith. I find men like Livingston and Cam Townsend and Bruce Olson to be as great of innovators as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Except of course that by God's grace their accomplishments will have eternal benefits rather than just temporal ones. (Note: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book. 3 = Very good; 4 = Outstanding {only about 5% of the books I read merit this}; 5 = All time favorites {one of these may come along every 400-500 books})

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    What a life he lived! Too bad his family didn't know him much. One of Great Britain's heroes, buried at Westminster Abbey through much effort of 3 men who brought his body out of inland Africa.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Treasure Bermudez

    I really liked this book. It was sad when he died though.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jacky

    David Livingstone was a great missionary that many people including i liked for what he did in afrcia.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Indie

    I love how he saved people and went on adventures!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda

    I agree completely with the comments under the 1 & 2 star reviews of this book. Still, I am giving this book a 5 star review, because it is a well-written, important part of history. David Livingstone was a very important man of his time period & helped to shaped history. Even in modern culture, who hasn't heard "Livingstone, I presume?" He was a very accomplished explorer & his achievements carved the way for many others to follow, both explorers & missionaries alike. Did he care more about bei I agree completely with the comments under the 1 & 2 star reviews of this book. Still, I am giving this book a 5 star review, because it is a well-written, important part of history. David Livingstone was a very important man of his time period & helped to shaped history. Even in modern culture, who hasn't heard "Livingstone, I presume?" He was a very accomplished explorer & his achievements carved the way for many others to follow, both explorers & missionaries alike. Did he care more about being an explorer than his family? I believe the answer is yes. Did he care more about being an explorer than following God? That, I don't know, but he certainly neglected God's command to care for his family, which I believe is more than just making sure their physical needs are met, its being there emotionally & spiritually for them. I appreciate the mostly unjudgemental way the authors presented the facts. The authors didn't sugar-coat or ignore Livingstone's faults, they wrote about them honestly & mostly without editorial comment. The worst they said about him was calling him "stubborn", which is really an understatement. Readers can read the facts as they happened, and make their own decision about David Livingstone, and whether they should seek to emulate his life, or seek to avoid the mistakes he made.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katheryn

    This was a great biography of David Livingstone. I had no idea that he was the first white man to see and name Victoria Falls in Africa. I think I learned as much geography about Africa as I did about his life. Fascinating life and story of a neat man who risked his life to take the gospel to every unchartered territory in Africa. It was appropriate for my daughters to read. We read it out loud as a family and could not wait until it was time to read together again.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David

    I enjoyed this dramatic account of David Livingstone's life. What it missed largely was his ministry - it leaves me wondering what it was. I will be doing further research to fill in those blanks, whether through another biography or online investigation.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Della Tingle

    I have read several of these Christian Heroes: Then & Now books by Janet and Geoff Benge. They never disappoint, so this one was also a success! The childhood of David Livingstone was quite challenging. He worked in a mill fourteen hours a day to help pay the family’s bills including rent for a single-room apartment, food, and school for the younger children. In order to comply with the law, there was school for the child mill workers where “the classes were held from eight until ten each night. I have read several of these Christian Heroes: Then & Now books by Janet and Geoff Benge. They never disappoint, so this one was also a success! The childhood of David Livingstone was quite challenging. He worked in a mill fourteen hours a day to help pay the family’s bills including rent for a single-room apartment, food, and school for the younger children. In order to comply with the law, there was school for the child mill workers where “the classes were held from eight until ten each night...Of course, most of the children were far too tired to take advantage of the classes. As a result, only about one in ten of them ever learned to read” (21). Even to attend church, it was a three mile walk to and from each Sunday. David so desired an education, that he worked and saved for three years just to attend college for one term. I don’t know many kids today with that amount of sheer drive, determination, and willpower! When David finally made it to college, he was 23 years old and “had never spent a single night away from home before” (32). How different from our college kids today! I guess being a teacher and also being mom to children who have already graduated college or are in college, David’s education is truly fascinating to me. After one term in college, David had to go back home “to work in the cotton mill and save more money” (35). David did not have enough money to go back to school, so his older brother financed his college expenses. Would siblings today do that for one another, or are we all focused on taking care of ourselves only? I just love that after all of the years of working to contribute to the family’s rent and food and education that it was his brother to to contribute to him in his time of need, too. This book will make your heart feel happy! It didn’t take as long to complete college then. David finished after 2 years and was offered a teaching job at the college “at a salary of 150 pounds a year” (39). The money was no temptation to David even though he had only made 12 pounds a year at the mill. He wanted to become a missionary, and money could not persuade him to do otherwise. This sums up David’s path pretty succinctly: “He was the only weaver in Blantyre to become a doctor, and the only doctor in his class to become a missionary. When he made up his mind about something, he did it” (95). David Livingstone was a missionary for many years in Africa. He explored regions no European had ever set foot on before. His never ending passion to minister to the people of Africa really caused him, in a lot of ways, to live the life of a bachelor. He had a wife as well as children, but he would be gone for YEARS leaving his wife to care for the children alone or even sending all of them back to Scotland to be cared for by his parents and sisters. At one point, he had not seen his family in 5 years. That really bothered me greatly when reading. Why have children if you are not going to parent and care for them? Maybe that is the public school teacher in me because I see countless children being raised by people other than their parents. It makes me sad. 😢 The popular phrase, “David Livingstone, I presume” comes from this David Livingstone. 🤣

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hollie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The book was well written. This book led to some big conversations for my little kids, mention of cannibalism, slave trade, abandonment ... David Livingstone accomplished a lot and had a vision on how to grow the gospel in an unreached country in a way others hadn’t thought of. While Livingstone’s desire to spread the gospel is expressed throughout the book, it seems to me he did his missionary work at the expense of his family. Emphasis throughout the book seems to be placed more on Livingstone’ The book was well written. This book led to some big conversations for my little kids, mention of cannibalism, slave trade, abandonment ... David Livingstone accomplished a lot and had a vision on how to grow the gospel in an unreached country in a way others hadn’t thought of. While Livingstone’s desire to spread the gospel is expressed throughout the book, it seems to me he did his missionary work at the expense of his family. Emphasis throughout the book seems to be placed more on Livingstone’s determination and stubbornness vs. a guiding faith. Throughout the book, Livingstone only briefly speaks with others about the gospel, most of his focus is on exploration. Exploration opens the country for other missionaries to come and is valuable. On more than one occasion, he went over 4 years not seeing his wife and kids. At one point, Livingstone sends his family back to his home country to live with his parents and promises to return in two years. His wife had an infant and a few other kids. His wife does not get along with her in-laws so she leaves the kids with Livingstone’s parents and moves in with her own parents. David realized he should return home after four years had passed. A family divided. On another trip, both Livingstone and his wife left behind their children, one being an infant. Livingstone meets his daughter for the first time five years later. I understand the importance of Livingstone’s work and what he accomplished; however, explaining to young children why a parent has abandoned their children may be difficult and I don’t see biblical support for a married man to leave his family in the way he did. (This is why singleness is a blessing). While I think this is a book worth reading, be prepared for big conversations. My disappointment is more with the man, his failure to follow the direction of the society that sponsored him and his abandoning his family for his explorations than how the book is written.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary-Anne Finlay

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I used to guide camping tours in most of Southern Africa and have always been fascinated with David Livingstone, because so many places he traveled to, I have actually been to! I was fascinated with his view point and experiences with the Boers. As I also conduct a lot of battlefield tours in South Africa, I am always rather shocked at the attitude that Boers had with native South Africans. Every Boer perspective I have read about Boer history portray the London Mission Society missionaries as bi I used to guide camping tours in most of Southern Africa and have always been fascinated with David Livingstone, because so many places he traveled to, I have actually been to! I was fascinated with his view point and experiences with the Boers. As I also conduct a lot of battlefield tours in South Africa, I am always rather shocked at the attitude that Boers had with native South Africans. Every Boer perspective I have read about Boer history portray the London Mission Society missionaries as bias towards them, so I expected some of that, but I was surprised at the violence that practiced on his mission station. Even Winston Churchill’s The Boer War (written from the British perspective) and Martin Bossenbroek’s The Boer War (written from the Dutch perspective) include this attitude, so I have to conclude that it was there! Spoiler alert 🚨 I was also very impressed that David had such a heart for the Lord that he even tried to reach out to the Arab slave traders. He truly showed and lived the saying: love the sinner, hate the sin. It was rather sad when he left Mary behind on his explorations, but I admire her will to stay with him in the end, even though it cost her, her life. I love Africa and all the beautiful people on this continent and David did too, and I think that’s why I enjoyed this book so much! The narrator did a great job. Obviously some names were mispronounced, but not many people have had the opportunity to travel to all those places like I have! Great job to the authors too!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    Very Readable Story of a Driven By a Desire to Bring the Gospel Message to Africa From very humble beginnings you are immersed in the story of a man who felt driven to share the gospel message as a missionary to Africa. It’s hard to stop reading once you get into the story of David Livingston. He possessed an indefatigable spirit once he made his mind up to accomplish something. A spirit which, as you will see, is both a blessing and a curse. A spirit which led him to courageously brave the danger Very Readable Story of a Driven By a Desire to Bring the Gospel Message to Africa From very humble beginnings you are immersed in the story of a man who felt driven to share the gospel message as a missionary to Africa. It’s hard to stop reading once you get into the story of David Livingston. He possessed an indefatigable spirit once he made his mind up to accomplish something. A spirit which, as you will see, is both a blessing and a curse. A spirit which led him to courageously brave the dangers of Africa when no other man would. Easily readable, it is an inspiring story of courage, blessings and tragedy. Yet none of this stopped David from his intended goals of opening up Africa to the native tribes of a continent that even then was being exploited by Europeans. You will learn about the Boers, the African culture, the dangers of missionary work and the life of a man who did what no others would to the day of his death. Left me both amazed and a bit humbled at the courage of a man who did what no others would do rising from conditions of humility and poverty to a level of deserved but unintended (and even unwelcome) respect.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Julie Akeman

    This is a book great for readers sixth grade and up I think. Really enjoyed it, picked it up for a fast read. One part I would pick on is the thinking that Africa is infested with lions. I know it's the people's way of thinking then, as it also deals with slavery. But it would seem David Livingstone treated the African people with respect and really tried to help them. There is a lot of negative focus on missionary work and I can't blame them but there are some bright people who actually cared a This is a book great for readers sixth grade and up I think. Really enjoyed it, picked it up for a fast read. One part I would pick on is the thinking that Africa is infested with lions. I know it's the people's way of thinking then, as it also deals with slavery. But it would seem David Livingstone treated the African people with respect and really tried to help them. There is a lot of negative focus on missionary work and I can't blame them but there are some bright people who actually cared about natives as human beings. I respect Livingstone as he learned the languages there as much as he can, he was patient, he learned to understand the natives. A very inspiring work.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I knew close to nothing about David Livingstone before reading this. I learned a lot about Africa during the 1800s, including the Boars, slavery, and mission work. I admire many things about Livingstone (drive to end slavery, passion for sharing the Gospel with the natives, ability to learn local languages, adventurous spirit, not complaining about hardships). However, I do not admire his lack of involvement with his wife and children. His life's work was suited for a bachelor. I sympathized wit I knew close to nothing about David Livingstone before reading this. I learned a lot about Africa during the 1800s, including the Boars, slavery, and mission work. I admire many things about Livingstone (drive to end slavery, passion for sharing the Gospel with the natives, ability to learn local languages, adventurous spirit, not complaining about hardships). However, I do not admire his lack of involvement with his wife and children. His life's work was suited for a bachelor. I sympathized with his wife and neglected children multiple times. He was away from his wife for 4 years, twice!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chuck

    This book was a fine summary of the life of David Livingstone. Though obviously targeted to a younger audience, it was still detailed enough to give the reader a view into his motivations, and his greatest concerns. I will not use this space to pass judgment, positive or negative, on the way in which he lived his life, treated his family, or served God. That is the sole discretion of his Creator. I can say that I now know a little something about Dr. David Livingstone, for better or for worse.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Any look at the life of this extraordinary man is compelling. Written with an evangelical audience in mind, this biography is simple and speaks primarily to Livingstone the "missionary". He was a very complex man that paid the ultimate price to live out his dream. We need to be able to accept the flaws found in such men and still appreciate the servant of God that he was. A very good light read. Recommend.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer tells of how an ambitious Scottish boy ended up a doctor and great African explorer. It’s written on a middle grade level and covers the basics of Livingstone’s life very well. It focuses heavily on his missionary work and glosses over his exploration leaving a fairly unbalanced picture, however. I do recommend it, though, for kids studying Livingstone or Africa.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lea Peters

    Faith and sacrifice. We have been reading the series Christian Heroes Then and Now for some time as a family -and we have enjoyed every one we have read. This account of David Livingstone (a personal favorite) did not disappoint. We highly recommend this account of faith and sacrifice for The call of God.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wes Smith

    I didn't know much of David Livingston's story. He is an amazing picture of what it means to be a pioneer for the gospel. He is a picture of endurance, courage, and boldness. Amazing that so much of what he did he was not only the first missionary but the first white man to see that part of Africa.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ta'Neisha Kemp

    We enjoy this series as a family read aloud and are always strengthened by the testimonies. There is also a cartoon movie and several documentaries featuring this story. I suggest watching one or two after reading.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Denford

    Very good biography. Some details may be a little graphic for young readers and may need to be omitted if reading aloud e.g. being mauled by a lion, a mentally ill man committing suicide by jumping off a ship.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chandra

    It's hard for me to separate the quality of the actual writing from the life of the person in the book when I rate a biography (and not feel like I'm judging someone's actual life, even as story-like or amazing as it may be).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rick Beideman

    Interesting to know more about David Livingstone. He is inspiring at times. He certainly had tenacity, but I found myself questioning some of his decisions. He seemed to care more about exploring than he did his family. Worth reading.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    My son and I listened to this on Audible for his first homeschool book report. It was amazing! The person that did the voiceover was really good!

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