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No Mercy: A Journey into the Heart of the Congo Paperback – 31 Jul 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • No Mercy: A Journey into the Heart of the Congo
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  • Into the Heart of Borneo: An Account of a Journey Made In 1983 to the Mountains of Batu Tiban with Ja
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  • Congo Journey
Total price: £41.26
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Product details

  • Paperback: 462 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; Vintage Departures ed edition (31 July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679737324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679737322
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 640,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From the Inside Flap

Lit with humor, full of African birdsong and told with great narrative force, No Mercy is the magnum opus of "probably the finest writer of travel books in the English language," as Bill Bryson wrote in Outside, "and certainly the most daring."
Redmond O'Hanlon has journeyed among headhunters in deepest Borneo with the poet James Fenton, and amid the most reticent, imperilled and violent tribe in the Amazon Basin with a night-club manager. This, however, is his boldest journey yet. Accompanied by Lary Shaffer--an American friend and animal behaviorist, a man of imperfect health and brave decency--he enters the unmapped swamp-forests of the People's Republic of the Congo, in search of a dinosaur rumored to have survived in a remote prehistoric lake.
The flora and fauna of the Congo are unrivalled, and with matchless passion O'Hanlon describes scores of rare and fascinating animals: eagles and parrots, gorillas and chimpanzees, swamp antelope and forest elephants. But as he was repeatedly warned, the night belongs to Africa, and threats both natural (cobras, crocodiles, lethal insects) and supernatural (from all-powerful sorcerers to Samale, a beast whose three-clawed hands rip you across the back) make this a saga of much fear and trembling. Omnipresent too are ecological depredations, political and tribal brutality, terrible illness and unnecessary suffering among the forest pygmies, and an appalling waste of human life throughout this little-explored region.
An elegant, disturbing and deeply compassionate evocation of a vanishing world, extraordinary in its depth, scope and range of characters, No Mercy is destined to become a landmark work of travel, adventure and naturalhistory. A quest for the meaning of magic and the purpose of religion, and a celebration of the comforts and mysteries of science, it is also--and above all--a powerful guide to the humanity that prevails even in the very heart of darkness.

"From the Hardcover edition.


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Format: Paperback
O'Hanlons book - in his own great tradition and the tradition of travel and soul writer Bruce Chattwick - is a splendid piece of Art. The book is a travelor's impression, a natural science description of flora & fauna of the Congolese jungle, an ethnographic description of tribes, traditions and beliefs, a political opinion on the communist state-form in Africa, it is also a fascinating plot and adventure story - but it is, above all, more than all these parts: the vivid, humorous, spell-binding and exact description provides the reader with an all encompassing inside into the human nature - ours and theirs - the fragility of life, and the exteme span of priorities the peoples populating this earth pursue. Even though one might guess the actual outcome of the trip as such, I read the entire book in one spell-bound session, laughing at times, having shivers running up my spine at others - this book sticks in your memory, and deepens the understanding of the world. Above all because O'Hanlon does not teach, preach or offers opinions: almost all is written in direct speech, and where not, like a diary - the reader travels with the author, is experiencing all his adventures looking over his shoulder. Therefore the impact is strikingly direct. Also, I'd say, it is a must read for all who work in or for-, or are interested in central Afrika - and to others who wonder why things seem to happen differently, and according to different agendas, in that part of the world.
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By A Customer on 23 Jan. 1998
Format: Hardcover
I had read Redmond O'Hanlon's previous books and I expected more of the same- hapless Englishman out of his depth in the tropics having real jungle adventures, but with a strong comic element. And indeed at the beginning, the book seems to follow that formula. But by the end, there is little comedy and the reader is faced directly with some of the deepest issues of human life. It is a shattering conclusion and there is indeed no mercy for anyone, possibly no mercy anywhere in this world. It is a long book and maybe has a few too many descriptions of birds and such, yet it is a classic travel memoir, a journey both physically and to the deepest part of one man's mind. And to a place outside the comfortable civilized rational view of life, to someplace completely more scary, that may very well be inside all of us. A unique and thought provoking journey.
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Format: Hardcover
Having lived in the Congo for ten years, I believe this is the first book I've read that accurately describes what life there is actually like, both for foreigners and for the Congolese. It makes you feel that you are there: the difficulty of daily living, the despair, fear of sorcery, unfailing good humor, poverty, and strong family obligations of the Congolese come through clearly and are on target. O'Hanlon is a quick learner - many foreigners stay there for years and never leave the European lifestyle; he depicts the side of life that is seen only by living with the people. If you want a taste of what life in Congo is like without actually going there, this is the book.
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By A Customer on 23 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
Redmond manages to find humor in difficult circumstances without ridiculing or belittling those around him. Yes, the book is long, but well worth it. His ostensible reason for the trip is just a thin excuse, disappointing and surprising no one when it isn't "successful." The ending, I found entirely appropriate for a journey of this nature.
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Format: Hardcover
Redmond O'Hanlon's book is stunning. As funny as it is penetrating, he offers so much more than an incredible physical journey. He is expert at evoking the feel of the claustrophobic jungle of the Congo, plunging the reader knee deep in vines and choking on the smell of 3rd rate 3rd world motels. But more importantly, he credibly takes us into the minds of his Congolese guides and travlling companions. It is O'Hanlon's own struggle with his thoughts and fears as he undertakes his journey that provides the real meat of this narrative. And the writing here is distrubing and seductive. By recreating the hardship of life in the jungle for the reader, he effortlessly takes us into the head of someone faced with those experiences. The result is nothing less than mind altering. An incredible journey into a dangerous country and a slippery mind. Amazing.
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By A Customer on 27 April 1998
Format: Hardcover
Ok, I'll admit it.I enjoy arm chair travel books to places I would never,ever go to in real life. "No Mercy"-- about Lake Tele in the Congo-- seemed to fit the bill. Wrong. It's not that its badly written but...well, its more along the line of J. Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" then it is a travel book. Its full of angst, and sturn und drag, and soul searching, the author against nature, the author against himself (he carefully chronicles his brushes with madness...I mean, toward the end he was THIS close to falling off his perch, if you know what I mean.) A mental health professional who also enjoys travel books would doubtless enjoy this "Heart of Darkness" type mode, but for the ordinary arm chair traveler-- like your's truly-- forget it!
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Format: Hardcover
Redmond O'Hanlon, who already pleased us with Into the Heart of Borneo and In Trouble Again, has achieved with Congo Journey what he was, with hindsight, aiming for with the two previous works. He has created a modern literary travel masterpiece.
For those of us who might have thought there was nothing left in the world to discover, O'Hanlon has recreated the nineteenth century feeling of excitement and trepidation. His book reminds us that, global village or not, the world has much mystery left in store. And he has done so with humor, depth and poetry.
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