Blood River : The Terrifying Journey Through the World's Most Dangerous Country

Walmart # 568382618

Blood River : The Terrifying Journey Through the World's Most Dangerous Country

Walmart # 568382618
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"Blood River" offers a compulsively readable account of a journey to the Congo--a country virtually inaccessible to the outside world--vividly told by a daring and adventurous journalist.

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9780802144331
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This very engrossing trav

This very engrossing travelogue of the author's journey down the Congo River is told against a backdrop of the recorded history of many other explorers, adventurers, missionaries, mercenaries, native peoples, profiteers, international aid workers, government officials, revolutionaries, movie stars(!) and others who have left their impact on the country throughout the last two centuries. The historical references alone would have made this an interesting read. In 2004, the Democratic Republic of Congo has declined to a state that is in many ways worse than the pre-colonial era when Henry Morton Stanley first made the voyage that this author attempts to duplicate here. Conditions are deplorable everywhere and the voyage is full of potential hazard. His motto, "cities bad, open good" serves him well. It is heart-sickening to read of the corruption, greed and ruthlessness that is routine is a country of such vast natural resources. Unlike most places in the world which have at lease shown some progress over the last decades, the DRC has been steadily declining. What little infrastructure was left in the early 1960's has slowly been disintegrating. The wildlife in many areas has been decimated. There is little agriculture. What is worse is that there is no communal memory of the atrocities just a few short years ago, so it is very hard to learn from those events. Most of the rural population seeks temporary refuge in the bush when threatened by roving bands of thugs. Like Jeffrey Tayler in "Facing the Congo" and Peter Stark in "At the Mercy of the River", the author is eventually brought down by sickness. I am left with the impression that without his connections with UN personnel stationed in remote areas and cash reserves, the author would not likely have gotten far along this jouney.

This very engrossing trav

This very engrossing travelogue of the author's journey down the Congo River is told against a backdrop of the recorded history of many other explorers, adventurers, missionaries, mercenaries, native peoples, profiteers, international aid workers, government officials, revolutionaries, movie stars(!) and others who have left their impact on the country throughout the last two centuries. The historical references alone would have made this an interesting read. In 2004, the Democratic Republic of Congo has declined to a state that is in many ways worse than the pre-colonial era when Henry Morton Stanley first made the voyage that this author attempts to duplicate here. Conditions are deplorable everywhere and the voyage is full of potential hazard. His motto, "cities bad, open good" serves him well. It is heart-sickening to read of the corruption, greed and ruthlessness that is routine is a country of such vast natural resources. Unlike most places in the world which have at lease shown some progress over the last decades, the DRC has been steadily declining. What little infrastructure was left in the early 1960's has slowly been disintegrating. The wildlife in many areas has been decimated. There is little agriculture. What is worse is that there is no communal memory of the atrocities just a few short years ago, so it is very hard to learn from those events. Most of the rural population seeks temporary refuge in the bush when threatened by roving bands of thugs. Like Jeffrey Tayler in "Facing the Congo" and Peter Stark in "At the Mercy of the River", the author is eventually brought down by sickness. I am left with the impression that without his connections with UN personnel stationed in remote areas and cash reserves, the author would not likely have gotten far along this jouney.

Butcher sets out to retra

Butcher sets out to retrace Stanley's descent of the Congo River. While I had a few quibble early in the book about some of Butcher's claims that King Leopold's acquisition of Congo territory started the "scramble for Africa," the rest of the book is spectacular. Butcher's narrative is compelling, but also his history and social context are sensitive and clear. He alludes often to Stanley, but doesn't make the mistake of many "retracers" of getting too caught up in the "quest" to forget the real people and places around him. Fantastic.

Having visited Lubambashi

Having visited Lubambashi and Kalemie a few years after the author, in a period of relative peace, I recognised the places and people he was writing about. I was heart broken for the people I met, that they had had to live through this, and astounded at the amount of progress that had been made in those few years. A really well written, up close and personal insight into one of the most depressing conflicts of global history.

A travelogue based on ret

A travelogue based on retracing Stanley's trip down the Congo River which subsequently opened up the Congo to colonization by the King of Belgium. Instead of the entourage that accompanied Stanley, the author was generally accompanied by only a few people; however, he had the benefit of motorbikes and UN boat as transportation at various times. While it wasn't a realistic following in the footsteps of Stanley, not least because he skipped part of the journey, it may have been the best that could have been accomplished during the time he was there. The book did a creditable job rehashing the history of the Congo and its current political crises.
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