This is an innovative biography about an adventurous, game-changing traveler in Africa during the West’s ‘Enlightenment’ period, when the American and French Revolutions occurred. James Bruce was not what he seemed to be. I can now reveal that although he was notorious in his own day for a variety of interesting reasons, including his alleged theft of his assistant’s art-work, he was basically an espionage agent working with a clique of powerful, mostly British, persons whose secret agenda was to eradicate slaving. Bruce undertook a subversive mission to investigate slave trafficking across the Mediterranean and Red Seas as well as the Atlantic in order to support his friends’ drive to destroy the principal source of their own country’s wealth. This was achieved in 1807. Like Bruce himself, in my book, I address neglected aspects of the ancient habit of slavery and the related abuse of —particularly —women.
Bruce’s Travels (1790) is a delightful —although massive —read. Therefore I sketch the geo-historical and faith background to Bruce’s work, convey the ‘feel’ of his book, and add to the known facts of his life a great deal of newly discovered material. This includes the international range of Bruce’s friends and collaborators, from Rome to Cairo to Bethlehem in the newly constituted U.S.A.
Change is agonisingly slow to take hold. It was possibly because Bruce ‘only’ wrote about Africa that he has been trivialised, and his biography has never previously been fully responsibly researched.