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Muddling Through in Madagascar Paperback – 16 Mar 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New edition edition (16 Mar. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006550916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006550914
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A travel writer of rare heart and freshness’

‘Dervla Murphy belongs firmly to that fine tradition of eccentric women travellers… endearingly self-deprecating’

From the Back Cover

'Everything about Madagascar is surprising', as Dervla and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Rachel, found to their delight. Despite accidents, misadventures and political instability they arrived at Antananarivo, the Great Red Island's capital, and journeyed south by foot, bush-taxi, bus and truck through the Ankaratra Mountains, sought out the island's famed lemur population in the Isoala Massif, sojurned amongst the Vezo fishermen of the west coast, trekked 400 miles through the hazardous Spiny Desert and explored the rain forests of the Betsimisaraka tribesmen.

Madagascar is neither here nor there: neither part of Africa, its nearest neighbour, nor part of Asia from where the ancestors of the Malagasy migrated. Most of the island's flora and fauna is unique – as are its people, with their distinctive cultural traditions. With her unique brand of fortitude and perception, Dervla Murphy has combined this account of her most accident-prone and comical journey with the remarkable history, complex religion and sometimes baffling culture of the Malagasy people, whom she describes as 'the most loveable people I have ever travelled among.'

"Both a revelatory look at a richly mysterious country and a traveller's tale that keeps its grip every bump of the way"
'Irish Times'

"The book… presents a rare glimpse of the Malagasy peasant life and the impact of the [country's] severe economic decline"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
Gives a superb taste of the country and its people by combining the difficulty of independent travel (in the then 1980's) with the countries remarkable people,its history, baffling culture and religion. Written by a traveler who admirably succeeds to find humour and patience during situations most of us would not tolerate in our own inpatient western lives. An excellent read before departing myself for the country!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
The first book that I read by the very peripatetic Dervla Murphy was (In Ethiopia with a Mule). It is an account of her 1000-mile trip across the highlands of Ethiopia, in 1967, solo, save for the mule which carried her belonging. For many of us, that would have been THE impressive idiosyncratic achievement of a lifetime. Not so for Ms. Murphy, who sees an obscure place on the globe, and has to go there, and savor it, usually via unconventional means. I gave the Ethiopia book only a 4-star review, since I was annoyed that throughout the long journey she was incapable of loading her own mule, and always had to rely on the "kindness of strangers." That flaw in her travel mode was not present in this book... in fact, she seemed to "double down" in terms of challenges... at the age of 51, in 1983, instead of being accompanied by a mule, it was her (beloved) 14 year old daughter! Ah, that all teenagers might have such an experience.

Just the first chapter, an excellent history of the island, is worth the purchase price. It was the largest fertile area of the world that was uninhabited until the arrival of Malayo-Polynesian groups around 900 AD. Various African groups came thereafter. Then the Portuguese showed up in 1500, and then the English and the French showed tepid interest for a few centuries. Only well into the 19th century did the London Missionary Society get serious in sending missionaries, who are often the advance wave of colonists, as all too many colonized have learned. In 1896 Madagascar officially became a French colony, which was its status until independence in 1960.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very interesting and insightful book although slightly out of date. Still worth reading if you are thinking of going to Madagascar. Written in a very easy style so you get to know the country from the inside. Not a guide book in the usual sense. Some might thnk it better, others might not. I see it as an essential companion to a guide book.
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