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Chasing the Devil: On Foot Through Africa's Killing Fields Paperback – 28 Apr 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (28 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099532069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099532064
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tim Butcher is a British best-selling author and explorer whose books blend history with travel.

His latest, The Trigger, tells the story of the young man who sparked the First World War a hundred years ago by shooting dead Archduke Franz Ferdinand on a street corner in Sarajevo. Tim trekked across Bosnia and part of Serbia on the trail of history's greatest assassin, Gavrilo Princip, making a number of discoveries missed by a century of historians.

His first book, Blood River - A Journey To Africa's Broken Heart, told the story of an epic solo journey through the Congo. Translated into six languages, it topped the Sunday Times best-seller list in Britain and was shortlisted for various awards from the Samuel Johnson Prize in London to the Ryszard Kapuściński Award in Warsaw.

For his second, Chasing The Devil, he walked for 350 miles through Liberia along a trail blazed by a whisky-sozzled Graham Greene in 1935. He discovered, among other things, that Greene's life was saved by his indomitable but unsung cousin, Barbara Greene. The book made it onto the longlist for the George Orwell

A former foreign correspondent with The Daily Telegraph, Tim specialised in covering awkward places at awkward times: Kurdistan under attack in 1991 by Saddam Hussein, Sarajevo during the Bosnian War of the 1990s, the Allied attack on Iraq in 2003, Israel's 2006 clash with Hizbollah in southern Lebanon among other crises.

He was awarded the 2013 Mungo Park Medal for exploration by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and in 2010 received an honorary doctorate from the University of Northampton for services to writing. Born in 1967 he is based in Cape Town with his family.

For more details, pictures and contact details please go to: https://www.facebook.com/timbobutcher

Product Description

Review

"This adventurous book, in the footsteps of Graham Greene, in many ways goes deeper than Greene, and shows the enduring beauty and danger in Sierra Leone and Liberia"--Paul Theroux

"Intrepid traveller, Tim Butcher, dares to venture into Africa’s dark heart where he records, with perceptive eye and polished pen, the other world he finds there. If Africa interests you, then this book will fascinate you"--Wilbur Smith

"Amazing. As history, as anthropology, as a ripping yarn. Both exploration of an epic journey--and a hard yet sympathetic look at a Utopia-gone wrong"--Anthony Bourdain

"Butcher's research, combined with the inescapable fact that not a lot is widely known in the west about the place, makes for a fairly entertaining read as the author, his companion and two guides stay faithful to Greene's trek, hacking and plodding along this 350-mile path. This is a well-written account of an unusual adventure, even if the "killing fields" seem a long way away"--The Sunday Business Post

"Butcher's travelogue is a mix of nervous adventuring through a landscape littered with shell casings, and historical assessment peppered with Greeniana. Sobering and illuminating."--James Urquhart, Financial Times

"A multi-layered and thought-provoking account of the attractions of danger and his encounters with the devastation of ritual violence, child soldiers, blood diamonds and the "devil" guarding remote jungle communities."--Aimee Shalan, Guardian

Book Description

The bestselling author of Blood River is back with a second thrilling adventure, illuminating the war-torn, complex and forbidding region of Sierra Leone and Liberia

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Gini Smith on 5 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Tim Butcher's latest book, Chasing the Devil: The Search for Africa's Fighting Spirit, paints an incredibly vivid and fascinating picture of a continent ravaged by war and violence. After reading his award-winning book Blood River, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Chasing the Devil. Just as Tim in 2004 followed H.M. Stanley's trail through the Congo for Blood River, for his new book, he follows a trail blazed by Graham Greene in 1935. The trek he documents in this book is both courageous and eye-opening. At a time when the world is being, once again, reminded of the atrocities of Charles Taylor's regime (thanks in huge part to Naomi Campbell sadly), Tim's book takes a look at two countries, Sierra Leone and Liberia, which after years of warfare have been left, in many rural places, lawless and unstable. Tim's account of his trip makes a brilliant read. He is an excellent writer and his years as a journalist covering foreign crises has made him a sympathetic and intelligent commentator. It is at once informative, funny and exciting, (the new light he throws on Graham Greene's trip is particulary interesting and often surprising). With his tales of Africa, you feel every blister, every prickle of fear and apprehension, and every feeling of personal achievement, as he embarks on a gruelling journey across two nations that not many of us would be brave enough to visit.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By mumzim on 24 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having spent his career so far living and working in difficult, dangerous and downright disagreeable parts of the world, Tim Butcher is clearly something of an adrenalin junkie. His latest book, following the footsteps of Graham Greene through Sierra Leone and Liberia, dwells relatively lightly on the potential personal risk and instead sets out to investigate why these countries endured such excrutiatingly agonising civil wars. This book works on at least three levels. Lightly sprinkled with descriptions of discomforts - blisters and boils, rats urine that carries the fatal lassa fever, unrecognisable and inedible chunks of meat to name but a few - it is an excellent piece of travel writing. It is also a literary detective story, in which Mr Butcher retraces Greene's 1935 journey, uncovers its multiple objectives and learns much that demystifies the great author and endears him more to both Butcher and the reader. Not least that he probably wouldn't have survived to tell the tale in Journey Without Maps, had it not been for his redoubtable travelling companion and cousin Barbara. And it is a compelling journalistic account of both the troubled history and uncertain future of two small and unremarked countries, brought alive by the anthropological vignettes he draws of the people he meets and talks to and the places he passes through, slowly absorbing sights, sounds, smells and above all stories. The author has carefully, painstakingly, constructed a single coherent narrative which is exceptional for its sincere and non-judgmental voice. I found it compelling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Toby Sewell on 17 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have been fascinated by this book. I knew nothing of Graham Greene's expedition in Sierra Leone and Liberia in 1935. I found Tim Butcher's account of it to be very informative. Throughout his journey he refers to the Greenes' experience at the same point which gives the story a dual dimension and enables intriguing comparisons to be drawn. Although he travelled the route many years after the Greenes, the author often found himself feeling as they did in certain places, for example in Zigida, where both groups sensed an uncomfortable spookiness.

There was evidently huge effort involved in undertaking the trek and in progressing through it under trying conditions. Tim Butcher is very impressive. I admire his fitness and strength, as well as his determination in managing with the heat, dirt and fatigue. I was conscious throughout of his sweat and blisters, which he battled through admirably. It is a wonderful story of great endeavour, as was his "Blood River". In both he shows his great ability to cope. It is a remarkable achievement to have made the journey and also to have explained it so well to his readers.

I am grateful to understand more about what is still in many ways an unknown continent; when I was growing up West Africa was often referred to as the "White Man's grave". It was of real interest to me that the book showed the problem that affects much of Africa, whereby the nation states that were imposed during the 19th century by colonial powers led to a grouping of people that are not necessarily state orientated. It seems there are numerous small, remote and distinct communities throughout Africa that do not relate to one another or the broader concept of nationhood.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Camilla Wadham on 17 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book; so much so that I was loath to finish it and have missed reading it since doing so. Once again Tim Butcher has produced an enthralling account of an adventure in Africa. As with "Blood River" he has thread three stories into the book: his journey, that of the explorer in whose footsteps he followed and that of the fascinating countries through which they both travelled; in this case Sierra Leone, Liberia and for a short time Guinea. It is a winning formula.

The reader is taken on a nerve-racking, risky yet hugely exciting trip, and is able to share in this experience through the strength of the author's descriptions. The use of maps, drawings and photos adds a further layer which helps to immerse the reader deeper into the story. From the outset Tim Butcher gently encourages one to reconsider any potential preconceptions or opinions that might be held. He gives clear examples of incidents where he was anticipating a negative outcome and instead experienced a positive one, for example in the prologue. This builds throughout the book where one sees that in spite of all the possible pitfalls and dreadful things that could have happened, his group travel safely arriving unharmed at their final destination; with kindness having been shown to them by the people they encountered along the way.

The relationships that form between the author, David, Johnson and Mr Omaru are a charming aspect of the book. Beginning as strangers they form bonds of trust which develop throughout their journey and enable strength in their team. One gets a sense of the unspoken companionship, as well as security, that they feel from one another.
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