Stories of the Gorilla Country

Author: Paul du Chaillu
Publisher: Harper brothers, New York
Dates: 1867–1871

Paul du Chaillu
PAUL DU CHAILLU (1835-1903)
The reason this series of five books written for youngsters by one of the earliest American explorers of equatorial Africa is near the top of our list of favorite books has a great deal to do its utterly unique and inimitable character. It has all of the attractions of a good Tarzan style adventure story, combined with the reflective philosophy of Robinson Crusoe. It differs from both of these however, in that it is the true account of the first American explorer to live among the interior African tribes of Equatorial Africa for an extended period of time. The author traveled by himself into the interior Africa, and lived with the natives for many years, and in almost every situation, was the first white person ever encountered by the interior tribes. He was not a missionary. He was not affiliated with or sponsored by any government, University, Church, or 'Royal Society'. He was not attempting to 'develop' the country for trade. He was merely a curious adventurer, who was willing to risk his life many times over, for the opportunity to see things no white man had seen before.

Paul du Chaillu was the son of a French-American trader who owned a trading station on the coast of Gabon in central Africa, and he accompanied his father on several long-term trips to Africa. He had much of his education at the Jesuit missions in the region where he met and befriended dozens of natives, and learned several native languages. When du Chaillu was still a very young man, his father died. Instead of inheriting his successful trading business however, du Chaillu decided to become an explorer, and embarked on a three year journey into the interior jungles of central Africa. In his travels he lived with, hunted with, and befriended dozens of native Africans, learned several more language, collected hundreds of wild-life specimens, and had innumerable adventures of such fantastic drama that many who heard his tales on his return to civilization, believed that they were utterly fanciful.

After returning to America for several years, during which time he wrote an account of his adventures thus far, he prepared for an expedition across Africa starting near the Congo Basin with the intention of exploring all of central Africa by foot. (This was over fifteen years before Stanley navigated the Congo River). The trials and tribulations of his unsuccessful expedition make the fifth and final book in the series somewhat darker in character than the earlier four, but all five, taken together are delightfully riveting. Du Chaillu comes across as a sincere and curious fellow, greatly delighted by many of the sights and characters that he encounters. His approach, when writing for young people is to explain his own reactions to difficult situations rather than to try to criticize others actions, and a great many of his escapades have very humorous or ironic conclusions. One could not possibly invent a more interesting fictional hero.

Stories of the Gorilla Country   by Paul du Chaillu
This is the first of a series of children's books by an early explorer of equatorial Africa. The author set off alone as a young man to explore the interior of Africa, hunt big game, and investigate some of the stories he had heard about the natives. This account of his travel is packed with hair-raising adventures and exciting stories about encounters with African wildlife and native villagers. 120 credits

Wild Life Under the Equator   by Paul du Chaillu
This is the second of a series of children's books by an early explorer of equatorial Africa. In this volume, du Chaillu's hair-raising adventures with wild animals and unruly natives continue apace, but the authors spends several chapters discussing particularly interesting or curious animals native to equatorial Africa, including monkeys, leopards, birds, and many types of insects.. 90 credits

Lost in the Jungle   by Paul du Chaillu
This is the third of a series of children's books by an early explorer of equatorial Africa. The first two books were full of exciting stories about close encounters with gorillas, snakes and crocodiles and various other incidents, but did not give a chronological account of the author's journeys. This book, together with book four, present a comprehensive review of his first major expedition into the eastern jungle of Gabon and the Congo region. 111 credits

My Apingi Kingdom   by Paul du Chaillu
This is the fourth in a series of children's books by an early explorer of equatorial Africa. At the end of book three, the author has traveled hundreds of miles into the interior of Africa and has become "king" of an Apingi village. He continues his explorations and adventures until he runs so low on supplies he is obliged to return to the coast. The second part of the book recounts his voyage to Senegal and explorations of the Sahara. 101 credits

Country of the Dwarfs   by Paul du Chaillu
This is the fifth and final book in du Chaillu's African exploration series. The author returns to Africa after spending three years in the white man's country preparing for a second major expedition, during which he intends to cross the entire continent. This ambitious endeavor is beset by difficulties, and he is finally forced to abandon the mission. This book, possibly the most exciting of the five and certainly the most frightening, recounts his entire ill-fated second expedition. 116 credits