on 4 January 2012
Chasing the Devil is a more complete read than Blood River, Tim Butcher's account of a journey down the Congo river. I enjoyed both enormously, but the Sierra Leone and Liberia story is more even paced and moves satisfyingly towards its natural conclusion. There is a good mix of description of landscapes infrequently visited, comparison with Graham Greene's identical itinerary in the mid 1930s and observation of social anthropology. Butcher's theories on the extent to which local hierarchies and rituals in rural Liberia conflict with ambitions for modern statehood make interesting reading and provide a refreshing counterpoint to the more ubiquitous hypotheses on colonialism. As with Blood River, the only enhancement would be more illustrations.