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186
4.3 out of 5 stars
Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2007
I could not put this book down. I was gripped from start to finish. It had my heart racing the whole way along and only when the next helpful local provide some hope could I relax until the next terrifying ordeal presented itself. It reads in part like a fictional adventure but the reality is that Tim Butcher lived his ambition/ordeal first hand. The sadness of the book that the country and it's people have to endure this life everyday.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2009
The logical sequel to Tim Jeal's 'H.M.Stanley' and Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' Blood River is a fascinating,depressing and wholly understandable account of a journey in what must be the most apalling area on earth.It reinforces the opinion that Central Africa is many centuries behind Europe in terms of civilization and there is very little hope of anything changing in the foreseeable future.It is a MUST read for anyone interested in Africa.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2012
I found this book to be a really good read. It was a real page turner, and both exciting and compelling.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2009
I was impressed `Blood River' was selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club - both because it is a travel book and because the Congo is a `difficult' subject. The build-up to this daring trip - across one of the world's most unsavoury places against all advice to the contrary - is also impressive. The author goes to great lengths to fill in details and colour from his extensive research.

The major letdown is the journey itself - a few days bouncing along on the back of a motorbike, a couple of days being paddled in a dugout canoe, a week on a tug, a flight in a helicopter (!) and finally a day being driven in a jeep. And in-between, stops in accommodation luxurious and basic in both extremes. If we compare the 44 days to the original journey made by his predecessor Stanley (as the author loves to do) - Stanley's took 999 days of hacking through the jungle, most of his porters deserted or died, three out of four `white men' also perished.... It is quite clear who we should be admiring!

As a white man travelling through such a dreadfully poor and lawless land, Butcher was an obvious target, yet he came through unscathed thanks in part to the assistance of many people and a general courtesy he hardly acknowledges.

What he did was keep his head down and race across the country as fast as his money could buy and his excellent contacts could arrange. Not that I blame him - what he did was extremely brave. But his need to exploit the writings of former explorers and the likes of Conrad, Guevara and Kingsolver was simply because his own story is rather dull!

Perhaps the aim is more about creating a cutting-edge political story... certainly we are treated to many claims of just how dire and hopeless the situation is and how it continues to deteriorate, more than enough to make you angry and frustrated at the wasted potential. We hear a lot of views on the causes and who is to blame, very little on solutions.

If you have never heard of the Congo then this is a good overview of the county's history. But the more you read the plainer it becomes - many people have written much better accounts of this intriguing place!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2009
Before reading this book i had little to no interest in the Congo and knew very little about it. Tim Butcher created intrigue by giving the history of the area, geographical details that were incredible, the current socio-political position of the area, all being written in an exciting narrative. The book has inspired me to learn more about the Congo.
Well worth a read.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2008
The author managed to keep my attention and allow me to enter the dark world that is the Congo. He has a gifted ability in writing and a bravery to match to dare to enter such a dangerous place in the world. The end was a bit disappointing as his river trip seemed to end in the back set of a car otherwise I would have given him a 5 star! The book is a good example of what Africa is capable of achieving - absolutely nothing. I expect to see him write another book on the destruction of Zimbabwe in the next ten years time where it'll be in even worse state than the Congo is right now!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Tim Butcher's chapter on Kisangani is travel writing at it's very best. Reading this particular section of his book left me wishing that I had been there with him. This is by far the most interesting and lively travel book I have yet read. I can only look forward to Tim's next travel book from whichever distance location that may be.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2008
This is an excellent book, not just because it is a good read but because it describes a failed state in all its despair and horror and in so doing should provide a warning for the rest of Africa.

Having witnessed in Kenya how near the surface lie the various tribal tensions and in Zimbabwe the destruction of a country in less than 10 years by a power mad despot, the Congo, as described by Tim Butcher, must be an object lesson in what can happen when government collapses and anarchy rules.

Depressing but fascinating.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2009
Wow!! This was a moving and incredible read that weaves history and current events in a tumultuous part of the world. I'd been looking for a book that tackled some of the history but ties it in with what's happening today. this is the ticket!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2015
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