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Top Customer Reviews
It begins with a strange and dangerous incident during the narrator's boyhood in Scotland, involving a visiting African Christian minister who secretly combines his Christianity with more ancient beliefs.
The story swiftly moves on to South Africa, where the narrator goes to seek his fortune after the death of his father forces him to abandon previous plans to go to university and enter the ministry.
He soon finds that beneath the surface calm the natives are restless and something strange is going on, linked in some way to an inaccessible cave and the old legend of a Christian king somewhere in Africa called Prester John. Soon, the natives are revolting!
Quite a short book, so not too forbidding to pick up and begin reading.
Really, the book has two heroes, the black leader of the African revolt and the white man who seeks to forestall it, both of whom have remarkable qualities, regardless of which of them is ultimately right.
As other reviewers have already commented on them, it may become a little tedious to go on about the race and colonialism issues, but it is hard not to mention them in a modern review.
The author John Buchan assumes that black Africans' dreams of expelling the white man and restoring their past African kingdoms are in some ways a noble endeavour but ultimately, for the foreseeable future, Africans are better off under colonial rule as long as it introduces modern technology, education, law and Christianity. Frankly, given the unhappy history of quite a few African countries since independence, we should not assume that Buchan was completely wrong to believe that.Read more ›
I wasn't disappointed ! A thoroughly enjoyable read, the somewhat anachronistic language highlights the changes in society's attitudes towards race since it was written but in no way detract from the book's charm.
Buchan's crisp and fast moving prose make this a real page turner !
In those days, when Buchan wrote this book, the "n" word was the vernacular in most of Britain used to describe black people and indeed my grandmother used the word without shame or without any particular undertow of racism simply to describe black people. When I say 'without any particular undertow of racism', I mean that the expression was no more derogatory than any other word used to describe certain foreigners. "Frogs" might be a good example: not very flattering but nevertheless not particularly racist either, just a word used to describe foreign people, all of whom, back then, were viewed with a certain amount of suspicion.
Of course, in recent years the "n" word has come, largely by its use in the southern states of America, to acquire a distinct and deliberately racist measure and should rightly be avoided. But are we now to have ALL of our classic literature edited so that it contains nothing that might be wildly construed as being offensive to somebody somewhere? Is The Merchant of Venice to be wholly rewritten because certain passages speak in a less than flattering manner of Jews?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's an old-style rollicking good yarn and would fail today's politically correct test. But Buchan is a master of suspense narrative and his evocation of place, landscape, etc, is... Read morePublished 3 months ago by H J R
His novels are good old fashioned adventures with the hero winning the day for Britain in particular Scotland. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Spikey knee
Classic Buchan, this is a tale of high adventure set mostly in Africa, of an African uprising led by the charismatic Luputu, sometime Christian pastor, sometime pagan chieftain,... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Sarah Hague