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Bill Bryson's African Diary [Hardcover]

Bill Bryson , Julia LLoyd , Jenny Matthews
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
RRP: £10.99
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Book Description

2 Dec 2002

Bill Bryson goes to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, the charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty around the world. Kenya, generally regarded as the cradle of mankind, is a land of contrasts, with famous game reserves, stunning landscapes, and a vibrant cultural tradition. It also provides plenty to worry a traveller like Bill Bryson, fixated as he is on the dangers posed by snakes, insects and large predators. But on a more sober note, it is a country that shares many serious human and environmental problems with the rest of Africa: refugees, AIDS, drought, and grinding poverty.

Travelling around the country, Bryson casts his inimitable eye on a continent new to him, and the resultant diary, though short in length, contains the trademark Bryson stamp of wry observation and curious insight. All the author's royalties from Bill Bryson's African Diary, as well as all profits, will go to CARE International.

Illustrated with 8pp of colour.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 60 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st. Edition edition (2 Dec 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385605145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385605144
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 1.1 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. Settled in England for many years, he moved to America with his wife and four children for a few years ,but has since returned to live in the UK. His bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent, Notes From a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. His acclaimed work of popular science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of the decade in the UK.

Photography © Julian J

Product Description


"Bryson is one of the funniest travel writers in the business." -- "The Globe and Mail" "Bryson has become an enormously popular travel writer by coming off as the most literate tour guide you've ever had." -- "The New York Times" "Bryson is a terrific stylist. You can't help but enjoy his writing, for its cheer and buoyancy, and for the frequent demonstration of his peculiar, engaging turn of mind." -- "Ottawa Citizen" "Bryson is first and foremost a storyteller -- and a supremely comic and original one at that." -- "Winnipeg Free Press"

Book Description

Bryson travels to Kenya in support of CARE International and brings his inimitable humorous and humane view to Africa.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good....needed to be longer 25 July 2004
Bill Bryson tells us all about the Care Projects in Africa in this wonderful little charity book. The book is well written, even funny in places, and touches on poverty in the third world. The problem is that I felt that a six day diary in just over sixth pages was not enough. I wanted to know more about these people and their lives. I believe that this book could have been far greater if far more of the same quality of writting had been included.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a short read, not someone who wants to get their teeth into what lives are like in Africa.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good little bookette! 10 Dec 2002
By A Customer
Being an absolute avid fan of Bill Bryson's work I eagerly awaited this little bookette to give me a good top up of Bryson's humour and observation before his next 'proper' book is released next summer.
African Diary did not disappoint. Bryson goes to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, a charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty. All royalities and profits from the book are donated to the charity.
Despite being only 63 pages (I say despite as I just love his work) the book uses Bryson's humour as well as his power as a writer to bring to the attention of the reader the poverty and hardship faced in places like the slums of Nairobi and Mombasa and the incredible strength, optimism and persistence of those who live there. Bryson does not make you 'pitty' the people, more give you a sense that they just want a chance - the ability to look after themselves, support their families and get a good education. Something we in the Western World take for granted.
It is an eye-opener with coloured photography illustrating places along Bryson's Journey.
If you love Bryson, then buy the book. If you support charities and feel you want to help, then buy the book purely as a donation to CARE.
I remember Bryson saying in an interview he only had 2 weeks in which to write this book and my only criticism is that is it relatively short. Just as you get into the book and the feel of his writing, it ends. I'm sure there is the potential to turn African Diary into a full-length book, but then then impact on price/publishing cost etc. would probably do the charity a dis-service.
Bill Bryson is simply the best in his field :)
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, funny, moving book 14 Dec 2002
When I unpacked my order, my first impression was to feel cheated by how slender it was. That feeling vanished somewhere around the middle of page 2; and I didn't put it down until I reached the end.
This book is a wonderful, funny, moving account of 8 days Bill Bryson spent in Kenya at the invitation of the charity CARE. He recounts, with his usual brand of humour visits to slums, village pumps and refugee camps. Bill doesn't hide the fact that he was clearly affected by some of the things he saw.
If you like Bill Bryson, don't be put off by the size. Buy a copy.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly funny for such a short book 23 Sep 2004
I was amazed by the quality of this work - initially disappointed by its size, I read it nevertheless and was soon in fits of laughter. It is unbelievable how an author manages to pack such a dense number of insights into such a compact work. A thoroughly good read - highly recommended.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, but very short. 23 Feb 2003
African Diary is one of Bryson's usual great books very informative, and the usual humour that we've come to love and expect in this respect African Diary is a good buy except for one fact. The book is remarkably short with only 63 pages of which 18 pages are of copyright, thanks to various people and some colour pictures in the middle of which are acutely quite good. Now this isn't a problem I quite like short books that get the point across which this book does but I resent having to pay the same price as I would for one of Byson's regular books.
However on the redeeming side all profits go to CARE International and this is a worthy cause...
To sum up if you don't mind short books and thinking of the buy as a donation to a very worthy cause then you should buy this in retrospect I still would. However if you don't like short books and don't want to make a donation to charity then African Diary is not for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Entry for a Great Cause 19 Aug 2008
Bill Bryson is the funniest travel writer working today, I believe, and even when he takes on what is an unpleasant task - visiting one of the most depressed areas of the world in order to raise funds for CARE, he does it in a hilarious way.

In this short little book, Bryson not only shares with us his (by turns) funny and heartbreaking journey, we also get to meet some amazing people. The lady who works twelve-hour days in order to get a profit of some $7 or $8 - the farmer who has made a fantastic farm and is very proud of it - the villagers who come out to welcome the visitors with open arms because of a well that was built, eliminating the need for the women of the village to make a seven-hour roundtrip journey to the nearest water source. This is what it's all about - this is the magical work that CARE does with the funds that are donated.

Bryson is his usual, witty self, freely confessing that the homework he did in preparing for his trip was watching Out of Africa numerous times, and he thought that he was going to be on an estate being served coffee for most of the trip. The reality was somewhat different, but still far afield from what he expected. That I not only laughed out loud but insisted on reading choice bits aloud to my husband is a testament to the talent and humor that Bryson brings to everything he does.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
A novel novel if you will, less of a book and more a tiny window into the lives of those who work un noticed behind the scenes ultimately for a good cause; with the added bonus of... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Elliott Haswell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Enjoyed his account of his journey.Discriptive and informative and humorous are all his books.
Published 1 month ago by D P DALBY
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 2 months ago by buddy
3.0 out of 5 stars Am I an idiot?
As someone who was advised very strongly to read the first Bill Bryson book which cost 3 and sixpence, I have been a buyer of his books until a few years ago when I for some... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Eric the Red
4.0 out of 5 stars it's a very short book but once you read it you will be glad you got...
Be warned, it's a very short book but once you read it you will be glad you got it, great book.
Published 2 months ago by Beatnik baby
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
No problem
Published 3 months ago by W.A.Willink
3.0 out of 5 stars The book is so poorly bound that the pages fall ...
The book is so poorly bound that the pages fall out when you read it. Bryson is is usual an entertaining writer.
Published 3 months ago by Ewan
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 3 months ago by gibson
4.0 out of 5 stars Great.
Too short unfortunately but very good. Perhaps he will write another book on this magical mystery land that is Africa?
Published 4 months ago by i_mcg
5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air
Have read a couple of Bill's books before and like his style. This is not a disappointment, it is a revelation. We should all be humbled.
Published 5 months ago by S E CROCKETT
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