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South from the Limpopo: Travels Through South Africa [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Dervla Murphy
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Sep 1997
Dervla Murphy's journal of her cycle tours of South Africa, before, during, and after the transfer of power in 1994, gives a day-by-day view of that momentous period. When she first pedalled across the Limpopo she fancied that she understood South Africa's problems because for more than 40 years she had - from a distance - taken a particular intrest in them. Within 12 hours of her journey that illusion was shattered. This journal refelcts her moods of confusion and eleation, hope and disappointment as she tries to come to terms with a country even more complex and shattered - but also more flexible - than she had expected. As she records her quite often contradictory reactions to the new South Africa, Dervla Murphy's journal records how she came to love the new South Africa.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 447 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; illustrated edition edition (25 Sep 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719557895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719557897
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 915,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘A travel writer of rare heart and freshness’
Observer

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The author's journal of her cycle tours of South Africa, before, during, and after the transfer of power in 1994, gives a day-by-day view of that momentous period. As she records her quite often contradictory reactions to the country, the journal records how she came to love the new South Africa.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful insight into a troubled country 19 April 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Although this is a long book(548 pages)it is well worth taking time to get acquainted. Dervla Murphy has an uncanny knack of getting right to the root of a country's personality and problems and here she displays all her talents to the full. She is no romanticist and gives you a very balanced picture of a situation. An extra bonus with this book is photographs - something we don't often get from this author!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars South from the Limpopo - a personal insight 15 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have seen the previous two reviews for this book and to an extent agree with both of them. I've read several of Dervla Murphy's books, and while they have all been an enjoyable read, I have enjoyed this one by far the most. This is partly to do with the style of her writing - it is much tighter in 'South from the Limpopo', and partly to do with the context - there is a lot more going on in this book. She doesn't describe herself as a politician, she is a travelling writer and I found her insights interesting and amusing, which is what I have come to expect from her books. One doesn't have to be a politician to have insight(there are plenty of politicians without it), and all opinions are subjective to a degree, but no less valid for it. It is a thick book which benefits from the addition of photographs, and as usual there is a map so that the reader can follow her route. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in other countries/ other people and their societies and to anyone interested in travelling. Dervla Murphy travels Africa alone by bicycle, which is no small feat.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A flawed insight 31 May 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
South Africa is a wonderful country and I had the great fortune to live and work there for two years. During this time I travelled thousands of miles, saw much of the country, and met a great many people from all backgrounds. It is a complex country full of contradictions that can assault one's sensibilities. There can be few other countries in the world where the destiny of its citizens is so intricately linked to its immediate history.
The author of this book recognises that the only way to understand a country is to see it for oneself. Bravely she set out to find the answers to some of the questions that South Africa poses by travelling around it on a bicycle. To some extent she succeeds, her reportage surrounding the assassination of Chris Hani has some merit, but overall I was left with a sense of great unease. She establishes her credentials as an admirer of the ANC early on and is named Comrade Noxolo (which means peace in Khosa) by her 'minders'; a gesture which she describes as marking her 'acceptance as a reliable friend, a person with the right attitude'. At no time, however, does she question the role of her minders as her journey continues and how she may have been manipulated in crucial sections of this book.
Her views about the redistribution of clothes from a hijacked laundry van are disappointing (failing 'to see it as either criminal or immoral') and her Robin Hood like attitude to this incident is not extended to the theft of her own property later in the book in the form of her beloved bicycle. Her trip to prison to visit those on remand awaiting trial for the possession of automatic weapons is disturbing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars PRESENT 12 Sep 2013
By bub
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I BOUGHT THIS AS A PRESENT FOR MY MOTHER WHO LOVES TO READ ABOUT PLACES SHE HAS NEVER BEEN TO
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A flawed insight 3 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
South Africa is a wonderful country and I had the great fortune to live and work there for two years. During this time I travelled thousands of miles, saw much of the country, and met a great many people from all backgrounds. It is a complex country full of contradictions that can assault one's sensibilities. There can be few other countries in the world where the destiny of its citizens is so intricately linked to its immediate history.
The author of this book recognises that the only way to understand a country is to see it for oneself. Bravely she set out to find the answers to some of the questions that South Africa poses by travelling around it on a bicycle. To some extent she succeeds, her reportage surrounding the assassination of Chris Hani has some merit, but overall I was left with a sense of great unease. She establishes her credentials as an admirer of the ANC early on and is named Comrade Noxolo (which means peace in Khosa) by her `minders'; a gesture which she describes as marking her `acceptance as a reliable friend, a person with the right attitude'. At no time, however, does she question the role of her minders as her journey continues and how she may have been manipulated in crucial sections of this book.
Her views about the redistribution of clothes from a hijacked laundry van are disappointing (failing `to see it as either criminal or immoral') and her Robin Hood like attitude to this incident is not extended to the theft of her own property later in the book in the form of her beloved bicycle. Her trip to prison to visit those on remand awaiting trial for the possession of automatic weapons is disturbing. The closest she comes to condemning the possession of these unlawful weapons is to inform us that she has another view that is `beside the present point' from agreeing with her minders that they should be retained for future possible use.
Later in the book her attitude begins to change. She becomes more cynical about her associates' intentions, but by then her personal opinions have long ago clouded the objectivity of her observations. Maybe a travelogue is allowed to be subjective but I can't help thinking that if it is then it should avoid dubious political observations and concentrate on describing the journey itself. It is this which seriously detracts from the overall value of the book. `South From The Limpopo' goes some way to describing this most interesting of countries but fails to find the real South Africa.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars South African Journeys (1993-1995) on Bicycle. 24 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Dervla bikes down and up South Africa before, during and after the 1994 vote for majority rule. Her physical perseverance energized me, and her observations were fascinating. As in most of her other works, Dervla has the courage to be inconsistent in her views, and reveals her own positive and negative aspects with refreshing honesty. -- Dervla Addict.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murphy describes one of the greatest events of the 20th cent 1 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of this book while in South Africa last summer. I've read Murphy's books before, but this is my favorite.
In her own nonjudgemental, trusting, and humorous style, Murphy travels to South Africa twice in the book. I will never forget the section of the book where she describes the first all-race elections in the history of the country. Since I was traveling in South Africa at the time, the book took on even greater significance. Ms. Murphy, as always, traveled places where no one expected her to go, and her description of her experience is priceless. Want to read two books about South Africa? Read "A Long Walk To Freedom," by Nelson Mandela, and this book. What a fantastic trip you'll take, whether you visit South Africa or not.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read 4 Nov 2006
By Isobel Odendaal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a South African living abroad for an extensive time now, it was a lovely homesick journey with Dervla Murphy!
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