seapoint books and media

Crossing Ethiopia

by John Snyder

John Snyder’s previous book, Hill of Beans: Coming of Age in the Last days of the Old South (Seapoint Books) was named a Best Book of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews. Crossing  Ethiopia

More than forty years ago, John Snyder, author, photographer and aspiring movie maker, with a Canadian history professor, his wife, and an Ethiopian translator set off across 535 kilometers (332 miles) of remote Ethiopia to retrace the route taken by Emperor Tewodros to confront the British Army in 1868.

They traveled by foot, mule and battered Land Rover. The author recorded the expedition with stunning black & white photographs taken with his large-frame camera. The photographs depict a landscape and a people hardly changed from the time of Emperor Tewodros.

Tewodros, emperor of Ethiopia 1855-1868, had the audacity to imprison 67 Europeans, including various missionaries and the British consul.

His refusal to release the hostages provoked Victorian England to send in an army of 63,756, an overwhelming response by the great colonial power affronted by a remote African country. It was this dramatic event, and the climactic battle of Magdala, that John Snyder recounts in the text accompanying these remarkable images of a time that has now gone by.

“Snyder's journey and the beautiful photographs capture an Ethiopia that is largely unchanged from the 1860's. He also illuminates one of the most fascinating and little known conflicts in history: when Emperor Tewodros, feeling slighted by Queen Victoria, took British hostages. He provoked the arrival of a British Army force of 60,000 troops in the port of Massawa. Snyder's journey retraces Emperor Tewodros's retreat to the fortress of Magdala and the fateful battle at journey's end. A great story.”
-Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting For Stone

“Breathtaking photographs reveal mountains, cliffs, and ravines that the author's party had to negotiate en route to Magdala. Snyder briefly mentions what we hope will one day follow: a screenplay for which Crossing Ethiopia is the overture. Even so, he has offered precious pictorial insights and students of Ethiopian history are greatly indebted to him for this remarkable book.”
-Tekalign Gedamu, author of Republicans on the Throne, a Personal Account of Ethiopian Modernization and Painful Quest for Democracy

“An engaging account of memorable travels in Ethiopia”
Kirkus Reviews

“John Snyder here tells two completely gripping tales: one about Ethiopia's brilliant (and mad) 19th century Emperor Tewodros II, who radically reformed his country and then took on the British army - the other about Snyder's own (and slightly mad) intrepid expedition a little over 100 years later, tracking Tewodros's fatal journey. Maps, engravings, and Snyder's stunning photographs of Ethiopia's people and 1972 landscapes bring these stories to vibrant life.”
-Jean Strouse, author of Alice James, a Biography, and Morgan, American Financier

“This blend of travel writing, historical narrative, and engaging autobiography is a joy to read.”
-James Atlas, author of Bellow, a Biography, and a memoir, My Life in the Middle Ages.

“Traversing the oldest location of human life, whence homo sapiens embarked for wider horizons, John Snyder in Crossing Ethiopia pursues with relentless energy, insatiable curiosity, and pellucid expressiveness his own and a fated imperial ANABASIS of longing, destiny, and ultimately, self.”
-David M. Darst, CFA, Managing Director and Chief Investment Strategist, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, and author of 10 books on investing, plus his latest work, Voyager 3, (Seapoint Books) containing his creative writing.

“Crossing Ethiopia is at the same time an excellently-rendered and dramatic chapter out of African history, a rivetingly-told personal adventure story, and a collection of unforgettable photographs. The overall effect of the book is nothing short of mesmerizing.”
-Charles Gaines, author of Stay Hungry, Pumping Iron, A Family Place, and The Next Valley Over.

“.No one who cares about history (and especially that of a major era of colonial expansion and use of power) or who longs for great adventure or a fascinating dialogue between romance and reality, high drama and hard fact, beauty and devastation, will want to miss this unusual journey to Africa, this unique story within a story. It is visually stunning, verbally concise and candid, revealing on all counts.”
-Thomas L. Johnson, retired Librarian Emeritus of the South Carolina Library at the University of South Carolina, and co-editor of Camera Man's Journey, Julian Dimock's South, and of A True Likeness, The Black South of Richard Samuel Roberts: 1920-1936.

“We know John Snyder the inspired autobiographer and ingenious sculptor. Here's a third John Snyder as magnificent photographer and chronicler of an unknown land and its legendary Emperor - Ethiopia's Tewodros II”
-Colin Eisler, Robert Lehman Professor of Fine ArtsNYU Institute of Fine Arts

“Snyder's photographic record is thus as historically valuable as it is beautiful, sure to delight all with an interest in this ancient civilization.”
-Dr. Timothy D. Carmichael, History Department, College of Charleston and Fulbright Scholar, Addis Ababa University (1994-1995; 2004-2005)