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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, funny, moving book
When I unpacked my order, my first impression was to feel cheated by how slender it was. That feeling vanished somewhere around the middle of page 2; and I didn't put it down until I reached the end.
This book is a wonderful, funny, moving account of 8 days Bill Bryson spent in Kenya at the invitation of the charity CARE. He recounts, with his usual brand of humour...
Published on 14 Dec 2002 by Chris Wood

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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good....needed to be longer
Bill Bryson tells us all about the Care Projects in Africa in this wonderful little charity book. The book is well written, even funny in places, and touches on poverty in the third world. The problem is that I felt that a six day diary in just over sixth pages was not enough. I wanted to know more about these people and their lives. I believe that this book could...
Published on 25 July 2004 by Ms. Emma Bowley


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good....needed to be longer, 25 July 2004
By 
Ms. Emma Bowley "Pong" (Derby, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bill Bryson's African Diary (Hardcover)
Bill Bryson tells us all about the Care Projects in Africa in this wonderful little charity book. The book is well written, even funny in places, and touches on poverty in the third world. The problem is that I felt that a six day diary in just over sixth pages was not enough. I wanted to know more about these people and their lives. I believe that this book could have been far greater if far more of the same quality of writting had been included.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a short read, not someone who wants to get their teeth into what lives are like in Africa.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good little bookette!, 10 Dec 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Bill Bryson's African Diary (Hardcover)
Being an absolute avid fan of Bill Bryson's work I eagerly awaited this little bookette to give me a good top up of Bryson's humour and observation before his next 'proper' book is released next summer.
African Diary did not disappoint. Bryson goes to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, a charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty. All royalities and profits from the book are donated to the charity.
Despite being only 63 pages (I say despite as I just love his work) the book uses Bryson's humour as well as his power as a writer to bring to the attention of the reader the poverty and hardship faced in places like the slums of Nairobi and Mombasa and the incredible strength, optimism and persistence of those who live there. Bryson does not make you 'pitty' the people, more give you a sense that they just want a chance - the ability to look after themselves, support their families and get a good education. Something we in the Western World take for granted.
It is an eye-opener with coloured photography illustrating places along Bryson's Journey.
If you love Bryson, then buy the book. If you support charities and feel you want to help, then buy the book purely as a donation to CARE.
I remember Bryson saying in an interview he only had 2 weeks in which to write this book and my only criticism is that is it relatively short. Just as you get into the book and the feel of his writing, it ends. I'm sure there is the potential to turn African Diary into a full-length book, but then then impact on price/publishing cost etc. would probably do the charity a dis-service.
Bill Bryson is simply the best in his field :)
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, funny, moving book, 14 Dec 2002
By 
Chris Wood (Reading, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bill Bryson's African Diary (Hardcover)
When I unpacked my order, my first impression was to feel cheated by how slender it was. That feeling vanished somewhere around the middle of page 2; and I didn't put it down until I reached the end.
This book is a wonderful, funny, moving account of 8 days Bill Bryson spent in Kenya at the invitation of the charity CARE. He recounts, with his usual brand of humour visits to slums, village pumps and refugee camps. Bill doesn't hide the fact that he was clearly affected by some of the things he saw.
If you like Bill Bryson, don't be put off by the size. Buy a copy.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly funny for such a short book, 23 Sep 2004
By 
Mr. Daniel Miller "Mr DM" (somewhere) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bill Bryson's African Diary (Hardcover)
I was amazed by the quality of this work - initially disappointed by its size, I read it nevertheless and was soon in fits of laughter. It is unbelievable how an author manages to pack such a dense number of insights into such a compact work. A thoroughly good read - highly recommended.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good book, but very short., 23 Feb 2003
This review is from: Bill Bryson's African Diary (Hardcover)
African Diary is one of Bryson's usual great books very informative, and the usual humour that we've come to love and expect in this respect African Diary is a good buy except for one fact. The book is remarkably short with only 63 pages of which 18 pages are of copyright, thanks to various people and some colour pictures in the middle of which are acutely quite good. Now this isn't a problem I quite like short books that get the point across which this book does but I resent having to pay the same price as I would for one of Byson's regular books.
However on the redeeming side all profits go to CARE International and this is a worthy cause...
To sum up if you don't mind short books and thinking of the buy as a donation to a very worthy cause then you should buy this in retrospect I still would. However if you don't like short books and don't want to make a donation to charity then African Diary is not for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Entry for a Great Cause, 19 Aug 2008
By 
This review is from: Bill Bryson's African Diary (Hardcover)
Bill Bryson is the funniest travel writer working today, I believe, and even when he takes on what is an unpleasant task - visiting one of the most depressed areas of the world in order to raise funds for CARE, he does it in a hilarious way.

In this short little book, Bryson not only shares with us his (by turns) funny and heartbreaking journey, we also get to meet some amazing people. The lady who works twelve-hour days in order to get a profit of some $7 or $8 - the farmer who has made a fantastic farm and is very proud of it - the villagers who come out to welcome the visitors with open arms because of a well that was built, eliminating the need for the women of the village to make a seven-hour roundtrip journey to the nearest water source. This is what it's all about - this is the magical work that CARE does with the funds that are donated.

Bryson is his usual, witty self, freely confessing that the homework he did in preparing for his trip was watching Out of Africa numerous times, and he thought that he was going to be on an estate being served coffee for most of the trip. The reality was somewhat different, but still far afield from what he expected. That I not only laughed out loud but insisted on reading choice bits aloud to my husband is a testament to the talent and humor that Bryson brings to everything he does.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Feels like a donation to care to me, 27 Dec 2002
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This review is from: Bill Bryson's African Diary (Hardcover)
As a big fan of Bryson I ordered this shortly after it came out and awaited its delivery. First thing is the size - at about half an inch thick it is rather thin. Its a hardback as well, so thats about a quater of an inch of text. But yet it goes on, take away the 5 pages of copyright info at the start and 8 pages of adverts for Care at the end, plus the 8 pages of photos in the middle (although photos are good, they aren't why we buy Bryson) we are left with only 49 pages of text. With only 24 lines of text per page you are looking at a 20-30 minute read in total.
The small amount of Bryson in here is entertaining. His familiar ability of getting himself somewhere he really cant handle gets him again. But this time he has guides with him to ensure no wrong happens to him. He is witty, informative and has great short anecdotes but there is far too little.
The whole thing feels like an advert to Care, the title African Diary is very misleading -"8 days rushing around Kenya and writing 4/5 pages per day" would be a better title. Even Bryson himself says "You made a generous donation to a worthy cause and got a free book in return" shame it wasnt a book worth reading.
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83 of 98 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Far from Reality, 23 Jan 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Bill Bryson's African Diary (Hardcover)
Bill Bryson had never been to Kenya when he was invited by a leading charity to go there for a week or so in support of their cause. Having lived in Kenya myself and having visited the refugee camps myself to see conditions there, I have personally seen what Bill Bryson saw on his visit.
It is quite clear that Bill Bryson arrived in Kenya and was taken to a number of tourist destinations that Kenyans themselves rarely visit. His time in Nairobi was spent in the National Park, at a (Brazilian-influenced) restaurant catering to Western tourists and expatriates, at a homestead used in an Oscar-winning film about the life of a Danish author, and finally, a brief visit to look at one of the worst slums on earth.
Bryson clearly believes that the house of the Danish author was her actual house, which it was not. There are a number of other similar but significant errors, factual misrepresentations, mis-spellings, use of what he calls Swahili (actually the words he quotes are from another language altogether) and urban myths presented as fact throughout the book.
Clearly he has written extensively from notes taken in conversations with his escorts. With the author having only spent 10 days of his life in the country, the book's editor could have done a much better job in checking basic and widely-available facts before publishing the book.
And that's just Nairobi. He also visited a refugee camp at Dadaab for a day or so, was entertained and shown around by aid workers, with one or two conversations here and there with actual residents of the camp, if that.
This book is basically a PR exercise for the charity. It describes the work they do, not the lives of the Kenyans. If the book's intention is to capture a snapshot of the difficult lives that some Kenyans live, presumably with a view to raising funds for the charity through book sales, it fails. Bill Bryson clearly did not get to spend any amount of real time with real Kenyans, and thus failed to see or present real Kenyans, rather than the Kenya he was shown by the charity for whom he was raising funds. Thus the book lacks any objectivity, and its very credibility is undermined by multiple errors.
If this book's intention was to present a view of the modern Kenya, it also failed. To spend a week as a stranger in a country, and then attempt to capture the country in writing is the equivalent of Kenyan flying to London, riding the tube to hear the bells ring at Big Ben, and then attempting to write a book that captures the spirit of England based on this experience.
My greatest concern about this book is that it may generate money for the charity, but ultimately fail Kenyans themselves. Readers may consider the prospect that the aid agencies and charities in Kenya are doing a great job because of the reporting of such work in this book, and thus fail to support such work in Kenya further by sending their money elsewhere to places where they think it might be needed more.
If you would like to donate money to the charity who organised this book, please do so, they are a worthy organisation. But do please do not buy this book, as to do so would encourage them, or others, to go down this path again, perhaps to the detriment of people's lives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet, fund raiser!, 5 Sep 2008
This review is from: Bill Bryson's African Diary (Hardcover)
The phrase short and sweet popped into my mind about this 49 page little book about Bill Bryson's 8 days in Kenya. It is actually a bitter sweet account about the work of the charity organization CARE one of the worlds leading international organizations fighting against poverty. They believe that by working to find the source of a communities problems and solving it they can help make the world a safer and more stable place for us all.
Unfortunately the book is a very superficial glance into the problems that are facing Kenya poverty, war, disease and corruption. However it did its job reminding me that we should be grateful for the small things in life and appreciate the fact that there are millions of people in Africa lacking even the basics for survival.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Being charitable, 3 July 2009
By 
Archbold Jake "Archie" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This is a fairly short (1 disc) audiobook of Bryson's visit to Kenya, for charitable purposes.

Profits from the disc go to Charity and for that reason I have been charitable in the 3 stars given to it.

Frankly, however, the serious nature of the subject does not permit the humour which is a hallmark of his writing to come through. Given that it is also read by Bryson, and not one of the two professionals who normally read his books, the narration is fairly flat and the consequence is a frankly disappointing listen.

Nevertheless it was and is for charity.......
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Bill Bryson's African Diary
Bill Bryson's African Diary by Bill Bryson (Hardcover - 2 Dec 2002)
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