Jane Bayard Wilson and John Leighton Wilson were unlikely African missionaries, coming as they did from privileged slaveholding families in Georgia and South Carolina,...

Jane Bayard Wilson and John Leighton Wilson were unlikely African missionaries, coming as they did from privileged slaveholding families in Georgia and South Carolina, respectively. Yet in 1834 they embarked on a nearly twenty-year adventure as Christian missionaries to two peoples in western Africa — the Grebo in Liberia, and the Mpongwe in present-day Gabon. Erskine Clarke‘s By the Rivers of Water: A Nineteenth Century Atlantic Odyssey (Basic Books, 2013) tells their story, but it also the tale of how profoundly different people in a globalizing world struggled, and sometimes succeeded, in reaching a common understanding. Even more than a model of Atlantic scholarship, By the Rivers of Water is a also a beautifully written study sure to engage readers interested in the exploding field of Atlantic history.

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