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Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town Paperback – 7 Aug 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 91 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (7 Aug. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140281118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140281118
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"If you appreciate a fine writer in bis finest form, if you are curious about Africa, if you delight in eccentricity, make the trek with Theroux."

About the Author

Paul Theroux was born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1941. He has written many works of fiction and travel writing, including The Last Train to Zona Verde, Dark Star Safari, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Elephanta Suite, A Dead Hand, The Tao of Travel and The Lower River. The Mosquito Coast and Dr Slaughter have both been made into successful films. Paul Theroux divides his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian islands. His most recent work is Deep South, which is published by Hamish Hamilton.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I began this book on a trip to Uganda ... and finished it a month later when I returned to Africa on a trip to Ethiopia and South Africa. Paul captures Africa in ways that makes the book so enjoyable. I have already been to most of the countries he covered, and was amused at how well he captured the sights, smells and dynamics of the people and places. I look at Africa as Henderson The Rain King, in search for my inner self, and perhaps this is what I missed in Paul's book; he was only in search of a book to write.
I reached the end of the book also annoyed at his constant attacking of the "agents of virtue" only to find that in his last stretch he too became very much bothered with the constant nagging for change (and favours)....
To me it is obvious that he selected his experiences in a way to bring out the hardship he went through (which he chose to go through) and in places where he obviously stayed at a good hotel (as in Harare) he is silent on the matter, as if it wouldn't have been correct or might have set the wrong tone. I think in a way having been shot at in Northeastern Kenya provided him with a pedestal to elevate his quest as supernatural.
For Africa lovers definitely worth reading, for those that need to understand Africa there are books less biased.
Karibu
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Format: Paperback
Dark Star Safari is an account of Paul Theroux's travels through Africa, shunning easy and convenient travel methods in favour of treacherous trains, dodgy taxis and tiny vans stuffed full of people and their belongings. Along the way he meets a whole variety of people from different walks of life, some old friends from his previous stay in Africa working for the Peace Corps and some new acquaintances. There are waiters, prostitutes, diplomats, Indian shopkeepers, white farmers, Rastafarians, ex-convicts and many more, all with a story to tell which become part of Theroux's own overarching story of his travels.

This book is interesting because of what it is: Theroux's journey is undeniably ambitious in scope and Dark Star Safari stands as a testament to that. It was a huge undertaking, accessing such a wide cross section of people from so many places, and the fact that he was able to write the book at all is impressive. It's also an area that is entirely new to me and I learnt a great deal from the book. I had no idea, for example, that there were so many Indians who migrated to various African countries to set up businesses and new lives, and Dark Star Safari is a gold mine of information such as this for the ignorant reader such as myself. He also presents a perspective on foreign aid (that it is often doing more harm than good) which I hadn't really considered before, probably because Africa isn't something that I read about terrible often, and certainly gave me pause for thought.
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Format: Paperback
finally a long-distance linear travelogue by the old master and at times it compares with his old classics - railway bazaar, patagonia expresss, iron rooster.
it delivers interesting insights on the political and economical situation in eastern and southern africa from someone who has been there and also knows the people who are in the know. (apart from that he obviously has the enviable knack of making contact with people easily).
certainly intriguing are his observations on the 'holier-than-thou' AID brigade - should help to give your money more efficiently if your are charitably inclined.
it also has its lyrical and harrowing moments - the ones that tell you that he really did it the hard way.
unfortunately the big 60 he reaches on route in johannesburg somehow seems to adversely affect mr theroux. his annoying ramblings on his sexagenarian existence (hey you have just crossed the dark star not shying away from any inconvenience so you are not that old, OK ?) leave a foul taste. as does the fact that once in south africa he seems to turn into a sexagenarian wealthy american tourist (sic). mala mala, trans-karoo first class, cape winelands, kyilitsha, blue train, the 'expensive watch stolen from the hotel strongroom' ?
had he only stopped in beitbridge.
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Format: Paperback
Forty years after being a Peace Corps worker in Malawi and a teacher in Uganda, Paul Theroux returns to Africa and finds things changed--for the worse. Now approaching his sixtieth birthday and wanting to escape from cell phones, answering machines, the daily newspaper, and being "put on hold," he is determined to travel from Cairo to Cape Town. He believes that the continent "contain[s] many untold tales and some hope and comedy and sweetness, too," and that there is "more to Africa than misery and terror."
Traveling alone by cattle truck, "chicken bus," bush train, matatu, rental car, ferry, and even dugout canoe, he tries to blend in as much as possible, buying clothing at secondhand stalls in public markets, carrying only one small bag, and avoiding the tourist destinations. He is an observant and insightful writer, and his descriptions of his travails are so vivid the reader can experience them vicariously. His interviews with residents are perceptive and very revealing of the political and social climate of these places, and his character sketches of Sister Alexandra from Ethiopia (a nun who "has loved") and of two charming Ethiopian traders, a father and son, who take Theroux to the Kenyan border, are delightful.
For most of the countries of Africa, however, he has no kind words. Kenya is "one of the most corrupt...countries in Africa," everything in Kampala, Uganda, has changed for the worse, and in Tanzania "there was only decline--simple linear decrepitude, and in some villages collapse." At the U.S. embassy in Malawi, he finds an "overpaid, officious, disingenuous, blame-shifting...
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