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3.7 out of 5 stars54
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 25 May 2011
I'll admit I bought this purely because of all the fuss in the media concerning racism, etc and because I did not know it even existed- I have every other Tintin book.
The plot is relatively simplistic, but then it was early days for Herge and the character was not really fully developed and neither was the storytelling style.
I did not really feel that racism was a central theme in this book at all; just about EVERY other Tintin book has him, as the central character, being portrayed as superior to everyone else, either morally, mentally or physically, it just happens that in this book the characters happen to be congalese natives in grass huts, speaking broken english, employing a witch doctor,etc. I feel what the complainants really want is an apology from Belgium for the entire period of colonial rule (which admittedly was appalling) but thats by the by.
I wasn't too keen on the wholesale slaughter of african wildlife just for fun, even presented in a jocular fashion- tintin accidently wipes out a whole herd of gazelles instead of the one he was supposed to catch for the pot, for example.
But it is important to remember that big game hunting was a popular pastime back then.
modern day concerns were really not on the agenda of the average person when the book was first written.
accept the book for what it is, a cartoon strip written in the 1920s that has very little relavence today aside from a glimpse of social attitudes from the past.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 August 2007
The Tintin series starts and ends with different types of weakness. At the end of Herge's career the books are visually elaborate but lack the visual spontaneity that makes Herge's greatest albums so loved; on the other hand, at the beginning they are masterpieces of the comic-book serial form, but they are weaker in terms of plot. Until recently, the earliest of the adventures to be commonly available was Tintin In America, so there was a lot of interest among fans when first Tintin In The Land Of The Soviets and then Tintin In The Congo were republished.

Given the fall of Communism, the right-wing orientation of In The Land Of The Soviets attracts very little criticism now. In The Congo, however, plays on some readers' sensitivity to issues of colonialism, racism and animal welfare. To my mind, condemning this book on the third count is like saying that Jerry should be kinder to Tom. There is some merit to the accusation, though, that this book promotes ideas of colonial paternalism: the Congolese are treated sympathetically, but very much as gullible children. Also, they are drawn with curly hair and thick lips, which might itself be considered offensive in a comic strip drawn today.

Any responsible parent will want to flick through this book before handing it, or reading it, to his or her child, but while there are things here that should probably be explained by reference to their historical context, there is nothing here that I would personally regard as outrageous. Tintin does not mistreat the natives, and Herge's concern regarding the exploitation of indigenous peoples is clear from his depiction of Native Americans in Tintin In America (the next of the adventures to be published). Indeed, the book could play a valuable part in educating a child about how our views about Imperialism changed in the latter half of the Twentieth Century, but that lesson can only be taught to a child old enough to understand it.

This, then, is a secure purchase for those who enjoy Tintin. It's isn't a great entry point to the series: the best books for that are probably still The Crab With The Golden Claws and The Blue Lotus. Nevertheless, it is more than a historical curiosity.
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Tintin's second adventure after Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (which having never been revised and coloured, seems to remain outside the official canon) has only been published in English relatively recently, and with its political and racial innocence (some might put it a little more strongly than that), there's good reason why it remains one of the lesser Tintin adventures.

Written before Tintin had fully developed into an investigative journalist chasing master criminals across the globe, under the seas and into space, it's the travelogue aspect that is the primary purpose behind the early Tintin adventures, the story revelling in the exoticism of foreign lands and alien cultures. Drawn also before there was a wider selection of reference material for Hergé, and being very much of its racially insensitive time, the depiction of the Belgian colony of the Congo and the natives is consequently potentially offensive to some readers. In reality, it's no more cartoonish than any other aspect of Tintin in the Congo including the depiction of Tintin himself.

Written primarily as an entertainment for very young children in a running serial in 1930, with there never being any intention of it having any kind of longevity, the exploits of Tintin and Snowy here are rather unsophisticated fun and slapstick, Tintin visiting the African nation as a reporter, but only in the capacity of a travel writer, taking time to indulge in big-game hunting and seemingly single-handedly massacring half the animal population of the continent. There is some familiarity in the crime-fighting aspect of later Tintin stories in several incidents he has with a criminal who has stowed away on Tintin's ship to Africa, but it's far from the global conspiracies of the greater Tintin adventures.

Reworked into its new format for colour album publication in 1946, the artwork is much improved and the offensive colonial elements are toned down, but even so Tintin in the Congo is still a good notch or two below the standard we expect from the best Tintin adventures. This is far from essential Tintin, and may still even be offensive to some readers, but it's an intriguing look at the origins of one of the greatest creations in the comic world that still has some innocent entertainment value and, as such, it's not entirely without interest.
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on 14 August 2006
As with a lot of people, I guess, I've bought this book as an adult after being a fan of the books as a child, and out of curiosity at the controversy surrounding it.

Looking at it from a modern perspective, I didn't feel particularly offended by the racism. The stereotypes portrayed are so out of date they become almost meaningless and you don't automatically interpret the negative assumptions. In fact, the arrogance and paternalism of Tintin is just absurd to modern eyes and makes Tintin look foolish and naive rather than the African people. If you've been taught anything about race issues you'll be able to put the story into context and you'll see the racism from the historical perspective rather than taking any inherent malice away from the book.

On the other hand, the attitude towards wildlife is probably more offensive today than it ever was at the time of writing. If Tintin's stance towards Africa's people didn't put you off him, then his lack of respect for its fauna probably will!

As other reviewers say, the story is fairly weak and the overall style is not a scratch on the later books. Still, it's a worthwhile investment for the older fan, satisfied the curiosity for the missing book and makes for an interesting study of the controversial issues. For children it's definitely not the book to start with, but, I don't think it requires the ban that we had to face, especially with the modifications Hergé himself made and the stereotypes it enforced, hopefully long gone.
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on 12 May 2004
Tintin in the Congo is a book for Tintin affecionados. Many of the "normal" readers won't even know that the book exists. It's not the best known of the Tintin books due to it's politically incorrect nature. There is no real story to the book, although it does set the scene in a vague way for Tintin in America, introducing the Al Capone story. It is a very early Tintin, and this I think is also a facsimile copy - from before herge recoloured the book. The background is a little boring, and you get the impression herge didn't like this book as much as some of the others. The facsimile is interesting if you have the newer version as you can see all the changes Herge made to make the book slightly more acceptable. It was the last of the Tintins to be translated into English and you can see why. All in all, a book for the Tintin fan, not necessarily the Tintin reader.
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on 22 November 2015
First & foremost be aware that what you are buying here is NOT the text of Herge's original manuscript. The English language, colour version on sale here is a translation from the 'edited' Scandinavian publication, & as a result is considerably shorter & more sanitised than the full French language version that can still (with difficulty) be found.
The original publishers of Tintin books, Methuen, basically refused to produce the original in English due to the presence of racist dipiction of native African peoples, & the wanton manner in which wildlife was slaughtered for the pleasure of white hunters. As a result the only English translation of the original book available was courtesy of publishers Casterman in the U.S. (though whether this is still the case I cannot confirm).

If you actively seek out the U.S. version (it is in black & white by the way, despite the coloured cover) it is really only of value for collectors, & I would caution buying it for pre-secondary school age children, as it does show an extreme view of colonial Africa in terms of the European attitude towards the indigenous population, which is very much at odds with modern sensitivities. As for all the clamber about it being overtly racist...well in some context I suppose it is, although in 1930/31 when it was written virtually all the western world was to varying degrees. I have been fortunate to travel widely & experience many cultures & I'm afraid to say that in many 'western' countries the attitudes depicted in this book are still prevalent under the surface of purportedly multi-racial societies. Don't blame Herge for living & writing about his own time, blame modern teaching for failing to change people's perceptions & ideas of what true multi-culturalism means. Readers might also be interested to know that Blue Lotus was banned in Japan for years due to the anti-Japanese asides contained within (Herge's dig at Japan's invasion of China). Although unless you can read Japanese these are impossible to comprehend.

So, back to the book. As far as the story goes it's all pretty much normal Tintin fare. Go somewhere foreign, cheat death, solve puzzles, catch the bad guys. There are some classic comic moments, but it does lack the continuity & impact of the later works.

In closing, this is one of the weaker storylines & even the author himself confessed to being unhappy with the finished product. However, any Tintin collector or aficionado should have this (&/or the black & white version in their collection).
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Fans and collectors will love this. It has to be in their collection.

Those with a casual interest in Tintin may be disappointed - black and white throughout and not particulaly well drawn in my opinion. Its more of an interesting look at the early work of Herge.

It is hardback but the pages do tend to yellow quite quickly.
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on 23 January 2008
Enjoyable, but lacking the psychological complexity, and narrative sophisitcation of later works.

It is worth getting, moreover, just to spite the prigs who would have it banned.
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on 4 April 2010
Ok will say it's not the most exciting of the TinTin stories but I quite enjoyed it. It was a product of its era and should be read as such. Of course there are many a sad PC imbecile about who just loves to decry it but sod em I liked it. Africans were drawn with 'woolly' hair and thick lips because they have 'woolly' hair and thick lips as was depicted in almost all books and cartoons of that era. People believed and thought differently about other races back in the 30s. If you are offended then grow up and take it for what is was. I for one am happy to give it to my kid to read while mentioning that it was written in a bygone era.
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on 20 February 2011
This was the first Tintin story that I read, and loved it. It really made me want to continue reading the series, and I have. I must admit, some of the pictures would be un-acceptable today, but as it was released over 70 years ago, there were no worries about political correctness. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.
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