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At the start of World War One, German warships controlled Lake Tanganyika in Central Africa. The British had naval craft at all upon 'Tanganjikasee', as the Germans called it. This mattered: it was the longest lake in the world and of great strategic advantage. In June 1915, a force of 28 men was despatched from Britain on a vast journey. Their orders were to take control of the lake. To reach it, they had to haul two motorboats with the unlikely names of Mimi and Toutou through the wilds of the Congo. The 28 were a strange bunch -- one was addicted to Worcester sauce, ather was a former racing driver -- but the strangest of all of them was their skirt-wearing, tattoo-covered commander, Geoffrey Spicer-Simson. Whatever it took, even if it meant becoming the god of a local tribe, he was determined to cover himself in glory. But the Germans had a surprise in store for Spicer-Simson, in the shape of their secret 'supership' the Graf von Gotzen ...Unearthing new German and African records, the prize-winning author of The Last King of Scotland retells this most unlikely of true-life tales with his customary narrative energy and style. Fitzcarraldo meets Heart of Darkness, this is rich, vivid and flashmanesque in its appeal - military history at its most absorbing and entertaining
Giles Foden was born in Warwickshire in 1967 and grew up in Africa. The author of three novels -- Zanzibar, Ladysmith and The Last King of Scotland -- he works on the books pages of the Guardian. From 1993 to 1997 he was an assistant editor of the TLS. In 1998 he won the Whitbread First Novel Award and a Somerset Maugham Prize.