Readers join Taunt in his exploration of some 1400 miles of river and follow him on two additional assignments. A commercial venture to collect elephant ivory in the river’s great basin and an appointment as the U.S. State Department’s first resident diplomat in Boma, capital of King Leopold II’s Congo Free State, are filled with promise. But instead of becoming rich and famous, he died alone, bankrupt, and disgraced. Jampoler’s account of what went so dreadfully wrong is both thrilling and tragic. He provides not only a fascinating look at Taunt’s brief and extraordinary life, but also a glimpse of the role the United States played in the birth of the Congo nation, and the increasingly awkward position Washington found itself as stories of atrocities against the natives began to leak out.