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Crazy River: A Plunge into Africa Paperback – 17 Jan 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (17 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349000271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349000275
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 127,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Grant is a fearless, literary-minded travel writer. In his latest escapade he makes a maiden descent down the unexplored East African river, the Malagarasi (Richard Fitzpatrick Irish Examiner)

A high-energy book (Iain Finlayson The Times)

Grant has the makings of a first-class travel writer. He's wide-eyed without being too trusting, good at ferreting out unlikely people and possessed of ample reserves of both masochism and self-pity (John Preston Spectator)

Book Description

* A thrilling story of three months in the most remote spot Tanzania, the Malagarasi river, the 'river of bad spirits

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow! This was a book I could not put down (or the Kindle equivalent!). Richard Grant undertook what many would consider to be a foolhardy journey into upcountry east Africa and has written a vivid, brutally honest and unsentimental portrait of African life in the raw, brought to life by his wonderful descriptive prose. The book shows both the kindness and humanity of its ordinary people, and the hardships they must endure, and the outright corruption of most of their their power/money-hungry 'leaders'. It is a real eye-opener and asks essential questions about how aid should be administered. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Interesting and thought provoking although a little convoluted in the beginning.
Good book for a plane trip - will almost certainly make you feel good about your chosen destination (unless it's the darker parts of the dark continent) - unlike the authors experience.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The author has a plan – to travel the length of the Malagarasi River from source to mouth, in Lake Tanganyika, one of Africa’s Great Lakes. Unfortunately his plan is waylaid by an eclectic mix of rogues, poachers, presidents, thieves, hookers, parasites and the river itself – yet the reader is all the better for his meanderings.

Great descriptive writing brings us a wry take on African adventure, compared with Burton and Speke’s own historic explorations. The author provides us with a view into a society which is almost its own worst enemy, as environmental damage, poverty and corruption vie for the role of the evil villain in his tale.

Highly engaging and entertaining, this may not be the way to organise your travel, but it is a good way to structure a book. His haphazard journey of discovery is far more comfortably experienced from an armchair.
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Format: Paperback
In his previous book Richard Grant risked life and limb in the Mexican narcotic badlands. Now he pushes his personal death wish further as he hopes to become the first person to navigate the length of Tanzania’s Malagarasi river from its source near the Burundi border to where it joins Lake Tanganyika.

I think the title is slightly misleading as, for me, this is not so much a book about a river journey as an informative, thought-provoking, entertaining account of the author’s encounters in Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Bujumbura (Burundi) and Kigali (Rwanda) which give a very different perspective to the usual western dogmas on Africa. His commentary on Burundi and President Nkurunziza (his visit was in 2010) describe what is with hindsight a breathing space between horrific conflicts. I am also reminded that Grant has serious journalist credentials by his account of his interview with President Paul Kagame in Kigali.

Although the river is the nominal focus of the book, the actual time on raft in the river is limited due to the time of year (dry season!), the presence of poachers and bandits, and impenetrable papyrus swamp, but it still sounds plenty dangerous even allowing for the sensible precaution of having hired an experienced local hunter and his team.

Unlike his previous books this one does not include an extended series of notes, references and recommended reading (to my surprise, these had actually led to me reading several of those referenced). However, intersected with his own journey is a gripping account of the remarkable hardship experienced by the Victorian explorers Burton and Speke in their search for the source of the White Nile alongside their terminally deteriorating relationship.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great tale full of rich characters and vivid description. Funny, horrific, educational are just some of the ways I'd describe it. One of the best travel books I've read about Africa in recent years.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was OK but the title and synopsis are misleading as the expedition along the river only accounts for about a quarter of the book - there is as much of the author describing being drunk in bars as there is about the river excursion.

The author is hugely cynical about any funding/aid being granted to African countries, and often passes his opinion as fact.

A lot of the book is almost a biography of Sir Richard Burton, which although interesting you get the sense that it is used to fill out the book. Again the author is highly cynical of others who happened to criticise Burton.

All in all the book is ok, however, if you are looking for something about the wilds of Africa you should probably look elsewhere.
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Format: Paperback
Richard Grant is rapidly becoming the master of "Trepidation Travel" writing.

Crazy River is an account of his experiences in attempting to undertake the first complete journey down a major river in Tanzania. The book has nothing in common with the type of travel writing that is a commentary on monuments, meals and modes of transport and is about as far removed from a tourist safari as it is possible to be. He really experience's life in the raw, and his perceptive and challenging account of life for the people who live in this region is a real eye opener. As with his book "Bandit Roads"Bandit Roads: Into the Lawless Heart of Mexico he comes close, on several occasions, to very serious harm and he mixes it with some seriously dodgy characters. His observations on the impact of N.G.O.'s and aid in East Africa are very thought provoking.

The book is a really great read, none of the writing comes over as contrived or manufactured, it hits the spot and will live in your memory for a long time.Buy it!
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