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Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart - Tim Butcher

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Genre: Travel / Author: Tim Butcher / Paperback / 272 Pages / Book is published 2008-01-03 by Vintage

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      13.03.2010 16:43

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      A great way to learn more about Africa

      I haven't read much about African history and politics, but the little I have has interested me. This is a factual account of the journalist Tim Butcher who decides to travel the length of the congo, following in the foosteps of the last white man to do so- H.M Stanley. It is a really good way to start learning more about Africa, as he describes the problems with agriculture and the economy that he sees on his journey. It appears that the Congo reflects a lot of the damage that has been done to the country after Beligan rule and then under the rule of the dictators, as we travel through towns which were once thriving hubs, which have now been ravaged by hostile tribes and eaten up by the jungle.

      The author comes across as a empathetic character whose self effacing narrative really warms you to him. It's not quite 'innocent abroad' but he does give you the impression a lot of his success there was down to luck. His description of how the bureaucracy there works was very revealing, as he bribes and bullheadedly networks & schmoozes officicals to gain access up the river.

      There is a lot of history given to you in this book, but not in a boring way, it's absorbed in anecdotal form more than shoved down your throat in dry recitation. I read it before going on to read 'Heart of Darkness' so I felt it gave me a lot of background into the fictional account of the congo and really helped me to get a lot more out of that book. Overall, a very interesting read and he makes a few good points on his opinion about why Africa's economy and farming is failing, which I have since quoted!

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      15.02.2010 14:35
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      a great read (still reading) one that makes you really think

      Blood River caught my eye the other day at water stones and I had a little read of the back and liked the sound of it. As I work for the Daily Mail , I thought it even more interesting to read about an experience of someone of potential similar interest (I am a great fan of travelling) and job.

      The book I bough off amazing for only 1 pence!!! (BUT with a £2.75 p & p charge which is fine!!) I have just started reading it and am already completely gripped!! It gives you a brief but still very informative over view of the history of Africa, and although I thought myself someone who knows a a fair amount of general knowledge when it comes to history and geography I was constantly learning something new with each paragraph.

      Basically, the book is the journey, and story building up to the journey of Tim Butcher, who works for the Telegraph. He wants to re trace the footsteps of Sir Henry Morton Stanley who, also worked for the Telegraph, and made his way through the jungles and plain of the lawless, cannibalistic Congo.

      He is faced with problems time and time again before he even gets to the Congo and the Country is I turmoil and chaos as there are rebels, militia and corruption to deal with.

      The book I written perfectly and is easy to understand and get involved with. It is a great insight into a country worlds apart from ours is a powerful piece of work coming from someone who was there and experienced a hell of a lot.

      I will update when I finish the book but very much doubt I will be anything other than satisfied with the ending.

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        25.01.2010 14:02
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        Really fascinating but irritating at the same time!

        Blood River tells the story of Tim Butcher's journey along the length of the Congo River, recreating the journey undertaken in 1874-1877 by Sir Henry Morton Stanley, a journalist and explorer. Stanley's journey helped open up the Congo, as much as the interior of the Congo ever has been open.

        The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was for many years the Belgian Congo. It has also been known as Zaire and the Congo Free State. Many of its towns and cities were renamed after independence to shake off the colonial past. But the country has suffered since independence, with dictators, militias and a horrific civil war virtually unknown of to the developed world. It is a dangerous place to travel to, where many people still live in isolated tribal villages, there is no law and order, and no transport infrastructure.

        Butcher developed an obsession with the country, and after a long time trying to work out how to do it, set off on his journey in 2004. He travelled both overland and on the river itself, and some air travel - to get to the starting point and whilst ill.

        The DRC is not a country I know a great deal about - because no one goes there and little is written about it. This was one of the reasons I was keen to read Blood River, to learn about this forgotten country at the heart of Africa.

        The first thing I noticed about Butcher and his style were his endless comparisons of himself with the legendary explorers of the nineteenth century - Stanley in particular. For the simple reason that Butcher now works for the same paper Stanley once did, he sees himself as the same intrepid explorer as Stanley. Stanley being the man who mapped the Congo River. And found Livingstone when he disappeared.

        I don't want to belittle Butcher's undertaking - travelling the Congo River even now is a dangerous and difficult task. But his view of himself was irritating. It eased off after a while. Additionally, as I read more of what Butcher was up against, my attitude towards him relaxed.

        The Congo is a mix of people, some who want to make profit at all times, and others who do not leave their bush villages, their way of life barely changed for hundreds of years. Butcher's attitude towards them is hard to pin down, but he seems to genuinely care for their welfare, as well as almost pitying them for not living in the modern world. His thoughts on how to help Africa are spot on - throwing money does not help, Africa needs law and order, and help in rebuilding itself. Money goes straight into the pockets of the ruling elite.

        One point in particular in relation to this element of the book stuck. At one point Butcher declares it is "horrible" that he has found evidence that the modern world tried to establish itself in the Congo, but clearly failed. Why is the lack of a modern world "horrible"? Modernity is not necessarily key for the Congo, and might not help solve its problems - law, order and stability are key. This statement irked somewhat, I think it is misguided and bordering on Western arrogance.

        For all my misgivings about Butcher himself, I thoroughly enjoyed the insight that Blood River gave into this lost African nation. The landscape sounds incredible, perhaps not beautiful, but certainly breathtaking. Most of the people are polite and keen to talk about their country. I've come away feeling both a little more knowledgeable about the DRC, but also helpless, because there are so many problems and needless deaths, and I am powerless to do anything. I want to know more, about the history, the people and the landscape.

        Blood River is difficult to sum up. I found it very powerful, but also rather irritating, or rather, I found the author's view of himself rather irritating. However I was almost sad to finish it, as I was enjoying learning about this fascinating and slightly chilling nation.

        I would recommend Blood River to anyone with an interest in Africa, but be warned, Butcher is a bit full of himself. This is the first I've read on the DRC, but once I find something with a more humble author, I'll let you know!

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          13.11.2009 20:22
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          Read it if you ever find you have nothing better to do

          Blood River

          What is this book about?

          This is a factual account of a journey through the heart of Africa, crossing from side to side of the enormous country the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

          The author Tim Butcher is appointed as Africa correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and reads lots of material about the continent. Over the years, based in South Africa and flying off to report from whichever African country is the current hot stop, the author gets more and more obsessed with the idea of crossing the DRC from one side to the other, even though everyone he asks about it tells him it is impossible. He works to find contacts and routes that would allow him to cross this war torn and rife striven country which is the size of Western Europe.

          Butcher seems to have several reasons for wanting to cross the DRC, some more likely than others:

          - He sees a parallel between himself with Henry Morton Stanley who was the famous journalist who in 1871 'found' the missing scientist Dr David Livingstone and uttered the immortal phrase "Dr Livingstone, I presume'. Stanley, working partly for the London Daily Telegraph, went back to Africa a few years later and crossed from east to west, going all the way across what was then the colony called Belgian Congo and is now the DRC. Stanley wrote a successful book after his trip 'Through the Dark Continent'

          - Butcher's mother crossed the Belgian Congo (as it still was) in 1958 as part of her coming out or finishing school - with party frock in a trunk (not part of the trip that the author is trying to emulate). Facilities at this time allow her to use river boats and steam trains to make the journey relatively easily.

          - Maybe - just maybe - the author also does it because he sees a good chance of getting a book out of it?

          - I feel there is an element of the British "Why did I do it? Because it was there!"

          The history of the Europeans in relation to this country is sketched, with the first European visitors being the Portuguese in the late 15th century. Although stating as a trading relationship it is only a decade or so before the Europeans are more interested in taking African's to sell as slaves than in any other trade, a situation that continues until the trade is finally banned in the early 19th century. After this, the Belgian's 'grab' the Congo during the great mid/late 19th century carve-up the 'Scramble for Africa' and remain as colonial masters until independence in 1960, although even then somewhat murky tentacles of Belgian power, influence and corruption remain.

          (The 'Scramble for Africa' is the name given to the European carve up of central Africa in the second half of the 19th century. The Belgian King had already claimed the enormous chunk that is the land around the Congo River and its tributaries as a personal possession and a conference in Berlin decided that the Belgian King Leopold could keep it and carved more of the continent up. (As an aside, the 'country' annexed as part of this exercise was called the Congo Free State - there is a misnomer if ever I heard one). It is interesting to note that only Europeans were at the conference about the future of vast part of the African continent and no-one actually asked the people who lived there for their opinion. It seems likely that, just as in the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere, the creation of artificial countries in Africa with divisions drawn by outsiders splitting historic peoples, or putting together warring tribes in a single country and so on has contributed to the on-going instability and strife in the continent ever since).

          I had a bit of a problem with the authors views on the colonial period. At every stage, in every town, at every former railway line or station, road or ferry terminal, the author makes the point that what used to work when the Belgians were in charge no longer works when he is in the country in 2004 and although this is clearly true it does come across as a bit of a hankering for the colonial times when he would have been OK (being white and European) but the locals would not. He describes Congo, with some accuracy it seems, as not being a developing country but rather being an un-developing country, as the rampant jungle reclaims the infrastructure that was carved out at such cost in the first place. I understand his point and of course I can sympathise to some extent but the cost of the infrastructure was mainly paid by black Congolese forced labour as the various tribes and peoples were set upon one another, forced to work (even literally at gunpoint) and frequently worked to death, so if they choose not to continue with the work when their colonial lords and masters have been thrown out, I think you can see why. The author also harps on and on about H M Stanley (he is contrasting what Stanley would have seen and what we reported) and also frequently references his mother (I had to slog through bush here when my mother in 1958 simply caught the ferry...). I understand the point but it was laboured I thought. Another criticism I have of the book is that the author goes to visit anyone and everyone - a missionary, an old Belgian post mistress, whoever - and has the same conversation again and again and then reports it:

          Author: So, you were here before independence: What has changed?

          Interviewee: We used to have <insert attractive resource - ferry, train, road, post office, cake shop, whatever> and now we don't

          Author: So, do you miss those days?

          Interviewee: Well, its not the same without my <ferry/cake shop/swimming pool/gardener>

          Author: What else has changed?

          Interviewee: We do not have constant raids by various armed militia, raiders, immigrants, refugees, people on the run, people who pretend to be from Government, soldiers and assorted bad people and they steal all the food, take the animals, kill people, burn down the villages and so on

          Author: And is that bad?

          Interviewee: No, it's a lot like when the Belgians were here, really.

          OK, rant over.

          As a travelogue it's not bad but the great descriptive writers have nothing to fear from this man. I didn't care very much if he made it or not, he filled me with no passion and I got a little bored of his overriding obsession. He also seems to have read every book that mentions Congo published in Europe of the US in the last 150 years and he quotes from just about every one of them. His wife must have been so glad when he finally left home and went on the trip...

          By subverting genuine aid missions, misusing UN and missionary resources, bribing people, causing innocent Congolese people to put themselves in harms way for him and so forth, he manages to leave the east of the country and start travelling towards the west. The first part of the journey is overland and the next part is on the Congo River itself.

          The journey really is an obsession and at times more like a drug habit. In one passage he almost casually mentions the young male thief being beaten to death in the street near him, in the same breath saying he couldn't hang about as he had a chance to hitch a ride to the next town: And he says, in passing, that this happened a few times. OK, I know this is a travel book, but to dismiss this so casually...

          Clearly the author survives the journey (as he wrote the book afterwards) and he makes it across the country. He constantly compares himself to Stanley on the way, but it is a poor comparison. Stanley went where there were no roads or railways and took 999 days to cover the territory without a single satellite phone or email. The author, in large part thanks to being a pillion passenger on various motorbikes, a passenger in a jeep, a passenger on a couple of motorised vessels, a passenger in a helicopter etc does it in 44 days and a lot of that is hanging about waiting for his next ride. I have crossed the Alps in a Jumbo Jet but I would not compare myself to Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants, if you see where I am coming from.

          On balance? I would probably say read it if you want to get a by-the-way view of modern DRC and if you want to know some more about the recent history of this country but otherwise probably don't bother.

          (Another aside: The author did not control the people he met along the way, but it is like the dream list from central casting. Having the UN involved helps (Scandinavians, Italians, Venezuelans) and the missionaries (white old-lady English school teacher, old Belgians (assorted)) then there are black African's from all major local nations and tribes represented, Hutu, Tutsi etc) plus Pigmy people in casual slacks and village chiefs in Kiss-Me-Quick hats. I wonder who he would want to play him in the movie..)

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          15.08.2009 20:11
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          An exciting travelogue recreating Stanley's exploraton of the River Congo

          The Congo has has a tumultuous & largely grim history since coming to the attention of the wider world.

          Already being ransacked by Arab slave traders in the nineteenth century, it was famously traversed by Stanley, who was the first to follow the river Congo & realised it to be a precious means of transport to & from the heart of the continent.

          King Leopold II of Belgium then ran it as his own money-making enterprise, plundering it for ivory & rubber using a vicious system of slavery & exploitation.

          Relative stability followed when the Belgian state took it over as a colony, but after independence the country gradually backslid into the ruin & anarchy of the present day.

          Tim Butcher is a reporter obsessed with the Congo, who decides to follow in Stanley's footsteps & follow the course of the river to the West coast. Despite everyone warning him of the impassabilty of the forest & the extreme danger from disease & trigger-happy rebels, he flies to the eastern edge of the country & sets off by motorbike & then boat.

          He's a great storyteller: the people who help him on his way are wonderful characters, & he obviously has huge sympathy for them. He meets villagers & missionaries, aid workers & priests, fishermen & traders, & they all tell stories of struggling to survive in the increasingly primitive, violent jungle.

          The almost total lack of amenities & healthcare is contrasted to the comparative heyday of the 1950's, with hospitals, fancy hotels, paddlesteamers & an extensive road & rail network.

          The Congo's story is chaotic & confusing, & I found the geography just as taxing because most towns seem to begin with the letter 'K'! But at every step, Butcher puts what he sees on his arduous journey - the vast rainforest, ruined cities, petty officialdom & deprivation - in context with a patiently-explained history. It's all illustrated with the remeniscences of the people he meets, & there's enough repetition for it all to make sense without being patronising.

          His gruelling six-week journey left Butcher sick & exhausted. It was a remarkable achievement, but it almost seems like a cop-out compared to Stanley's marathon trek, which took nearly three years & was accomplished without the help of motorised vehicles or malaria pills.

          I didn't want this book to end. It's deftly & modestly written, a fascinating blend of travel, history & adventure.

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            02.08.2009 20:27
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            Post-Imperialist travelogue

            Way down deep in the middle of the Congo,
            A hippo took an apricot, a guava and a mango.
            He stuck it with the others, and he danced a dainty tango.
            The rhino said, "I know, we'll call it Um Bongo"
            Um Bongo, Um Bongo, They drink it in the Congo.
            The python picked the passion fruit, the marmoset the mandarin.
            The parrot painted packets that the whole caboodle landed in.
            So when it comes to sun and fun and goodness in the jungle,
            They all prefer the sunny funny one they call Um Bongo!
            (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRBohQxBh2k)

            *Yep, fair do's; I hold my hands up - Um Bongo has pretty much nothing at all to do with the Congo. Apart from claiming that 'they' drink it in the Congo. They probably don't, though. Especially as it's made in, erm, Somerset. There's not that many pertinent Congo related quotes, you see, so I thought you'd probably be glad of a reminder of the song.*


            For the uninitiated, H M Stanley is the man who found David Livingstone and is credited with the famous 'Dr Livingstone, I presume?' line. A line which, incidentally, manages the not unimpressive feat of being simultaneously smug and unnecessary (leading me to wonder whether there's a direct genetic link between Stanley and Jeffrey Archer).

            Originally born in Wales of dubious parentage (fancy a Welshman not knowing who his father was, eh?) Stanley did the sensible thing and hightailed it out of there as fast as humanly possible, heading for America and a series of lacklustre jobs. Eventually he settled for journalism, and was given the commission to find Livingstone by the New York Herald. Following this success, Stanley went on to persuade the Herald and the British Daily Telegraph to fund his attempt to complete Livingstone's task: that of mapping the Congo. Obviously, mine is very much the abridged version of that particular history. For the purposes of this account, though, there's really only 2 key pieces of information you need to know about Stanley:

            1. Were it not for him, it is likely the Congo would have remained an uncharted wilderness until well into the 20th century.
            2. It would probably have been better for everyone if it had.


            Just under a hundred and thirty years after Stanley's epic journey, a lightbulb flashed on above the head of one Tim Butcher, war correspondent and Africa Bureau Chief for the Daily Telegraph.

            Butcher claims that, 'to shed my complacency about modern Africa and try to understand it properly, it was clear what I had to do: I would go back to where it all began, following Stanley's original journey of discovery through the Congo.' That he accomplished the latter part of this statement cannot be called into doubt. Whether he achieved his first two aims is open to speculation.

            The book begins with the history of Stanley's expedition and the following scramble to lay claim to the region (which, surprisingly, the Belgians won pretty comprehensively). Butcher details that Stanley played a massive part in this: entering into tribal negotiations on behalf of Leopold II, arranging treaties and brokering deals for lands and resources. Despite his later reputation as a vehement opponent of the slave trade, these deals were to precipitate the utter fragmentation of the tribal structure and plunge the region into sharp decline. Beyond this initial overview, Butcher, as you'd expect, refers to Stanley as a constant presence throughout the chapters of the book; almost a co-narrator in some ways. However, whilst he documents Stanley's hypocritical and colonialist tendencies, he does not outright condemn them and there is the distinct sense that he views Stanley as one of the 'old guard'.

            Having established the historical links between himself and Stanley, Butcher proceeds to detailing the start of his expedition and the problems he encounters. This segues neatly into some discussion of the current history and political status of the region. This is brief and does not stray far from the point of the narrative, as to do so would require a tome of more scholarly dimensions than Blood River offers. After some initial teething troubles, Butcher realises that he will need motorbikes for a large portion of the journey, and that his passage down the river will require considerable input from locals.

            For me, it is at this juncture that the wheels start to come off the wagon (often in a quite literal sense) for Butcher. This is a departure from the fiction I tend towards, but the initial histories kept me quite interested. I had, in fact, begun to assume that this might be not dissimilar to a literary version of 'The Long Way Round' (the motorbike explorations of Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman) or Michael Palin's various travelogues. My expectations, then, were of a narrator who would engage my interest in the places, recount the trials of the journey and tell the story of the people.

            From the initial chapters it became clear that Butcher's interest in the people was very much of secondary importance to how absorbed he became in completing the journey. What is glaringly obvious from the text is that the expedition would have been impossible were it not for the assistance from locals and foreign aid workers that he receives throughout. What is also glaringly obvious is that Butcher little realised how much he was unwittingly mimicking Stanley's famously imperialist attitudes: despite an awareness of how difficult it was to procure motorbikes for the initial leg of the journey (and how dangerous the trip was), Butcher blithely persists in pestering aid agencies and civilians to assist him and, in doing so, knowingly puts them at risk. This insouciant attitude to the Congolese as a people continues throughout the book; towards the end of the journey he recounts seeing a ten year old boy savagely beaten to a bloody mess by a mob for pickpocketing. By his own admission, Butcher 'was too preoccupied by my own emergency to worry about the boy's plight...so I turned my back on the boy.' This reprehensible pursuit of his own success in the face of another's suffering is eerily reminiscent of the prevailing attitude amongst men like Stanley, who believed the Congolese to be a useful but essentially expendable commodity.

            In honesty, the book quickly loses appeal because Butcher is simply not enough of a character to sustain it. He makes some salient points about the Congo as a region; exploring the idea that the DRC is one of the few places on Earth where the (theoretically relentless) march of human progress has proved to be all too reversible, resulting in the jungle reclaiming not only colonial-era buildings and infrastructures, but also the social mores that accompanied them. Ultimately, though, despite being in a uniquely qualified position to write a fascinating account of the historical decline of the Congo and its surrounding regions; the culture; the current political and social instability, Butcher fails utterly to make any kind of real connection with either the place or its people. Even the aid workers who risk their lives at the start of the book to courier him on their motorbikes remain very insipid and largely anonymous characters; Butcher somehow manages to recount their histories without giving the impression of getting to know them as individuals.

            By the end of the story I'd stopped caring whether Butcher completed the journey or not. He details a sense of urgency about making his various connections and logistical arrangements but somehow fails to transmit this to the reader. His quasi-colonialist tendencies and failure to establish an empathetic relationship with the country conspire to make him seem spoilt, self-aggrandising and, at times, ruthless. Leaving its failure as a narrative aside, the book fares only slightly better as a travelogue. Each chapter is headed by a childishly drawn map with handwritten place names and directions. No doubt the author was aiming for quirky charm, but I found it deeply irksome. Maps, I think, embody a certain kind of eccentric beauty and are fascinating for their codification of the unknown. A scribbled drawing speaks volumes about the patronising attitude and lack of commitment the author seems to hold towards the place. A few photographs are included (including some where the author juxtaposes a picture of himself being chauffeured on a motorbike with a picture of a colonial-era explorer being carried by natives and yet *still* determinedly refuses to make a comparative connection) and Butcher strives to faithfully document the sights, smells and atmosphere of each location he visits or passes through. Unfortunately, though, his perspective is often skewed by negativity. The overriding emphasis is on how much nastier, dirtier and smellier everything is than what he is used to as a white European. That this is true would appear obvious but his bleating manner of recounting it makes Butcher seem petulant and imperious. Finally, the book left me with no real sense of the place. An account of this kind should surely aim to transmit a lasting impression, tempered and coloured by the narrator's experience. Blood River was, for me, an exercise in determined self-promotion rather than an exploration of 'Africa's broken heart.'

            In summary, as an account of the recreation of Stanley's most epic journey this book can be viewed as a success and Butcher deserves at least some praise for testing the boundaries of modern exploration. To those with a scholarly interest in Stanley, therefore, this may prove a fascinating report. Those who wish to read a sympathetic and catholic chronicle of travels through the Congo will be dismayed that £7.99 buys only the most superficial of inquiries and a great deal of navel-gazing.

            ISBN: 978-0-099-49428-7




            If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home. ~James Michener

            I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

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              12.02.2009 21:01
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              A history and travel account of the congo in one

              Blood River is the most compelling, memorable, educational and insightful book I have read for a long time. It is in the travel category here, and yes it is an account of the author's journey down the Congo river, but the book is also a throughly researched and passionate expose of the troubled history of the country now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

              I was alternately gripped, horrified, astounded and shamed by this book. Gripped as the journey that the author made in 2004 to " the most troubled region of the world's most troubled continent" in the words of the author himself, was both amazing and insane, and shamed as at times I felt ignorant in the face of the information conveyed.

              According to the BBC website 5 million people have died in the Congo in the past decade. This helps to explain the title of the book, and to me begged the question why I am not more aware of the human tragedy of the Congo. That is not to say that the book is a grim read, there are some beautiful parts to it and the description is fantastic, nevertheless you can't help but share the author's concern for some of the people he meets and his astonishment at how a country is going backwards and not forwards.

              Tim Butcher is clearly fascinated by Africa, and hence decided to recreate Stanley's journey in 1870 down the river, a journey that in part was made by his mother in the 1950's in a time when travelling the river was easier. He set off with dollars in his shoes, and as the first person to make the journey for many years, and whilst there is no suspense as to whether he survived the journey (he wrote the book) at times as a reader you wonder quite how he kept going and whether to do so was folly.

              Tim Butcher travels via motorbikes, boats and eventually road but no part of the journey is easy. He travels to a world that is so remote that it fails what he calls the "coca cola test" he says that he could "no more buy a coke in 2004 than fly to the moon", not only are the towns remote but all semblance of law and order has crumbled in a way that defies the imagination. There are a few vestiges of a previous Belgian colonial past, train stations that have not seen a train for years, and the remains of roads, ports and previously luxury hotels now transformed into squats. It is a world that I suppose the average person forgets exists.

              Tim Butcher manages to make this world real through his well written account and passion for his subject; as Telegraph correspondant at the time he felt it fitting for him to shadow Stanley who had been famously paid to look for Livingstone by the Telegraph.

              From the colonial past to the lost potential of the Congo and the troubled politics of the country Tim Butcher manages to span a great deal of history and portray the people he meets with empathy and a great deal of compassion. There are moments of joy but also moments of heartbreak for the author and those he encounters, and the frustration of the author at the wasted potential of the resource rich country is tangible. The blood has flowed, literally, in this river through Belgian rule and after becoming a republic. The book is an absolutely epic read in under 400 pages.

              If you have been intrigued by this book it is worthwhile looking at the website for the book where there is much more information about the author and the journey along with photos of the trip, to be found at http://www.bloodriver.co.uk/ .

              It goes without saying that I would recommend the book, I am really sad that I have finished it and it will go into my "books that I will read again" pile, to be read and educated anew at a later date.

              The book is available from the usual outlets and retails currently at £5.59 at amazon or as part of thebookpeople 5 for £10 offer. Though not an easy read at times I am really glad I read this book and suggest you do too.

              Blood River - A journey to Africa's Broken Heart

              ISBN 978-0-099-49428-7

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                02.04.2008 17:44

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                As a Zimbabwean BLOOD RIVER is a book I just HAD to read. Because it is factual, I could NOT put it down and it took me 5 days to complete. I learned to so much about the part my own country Zimbabwe played in the Congo which I, a mere female, was never aware of. My only disappointment is that real names were changed. Because it is true, I read it with a pen in my hand, marking and checking the maps back and forth so it took on real meaning. As Executive Editor of THE PROMOTA I found the Uganda/Rwanda connection pertinent!I have already recommended it to everyone I know - perhaps one day my own book A'ZAMBEZI WIND SONG will be published but the difference is mine is a novel - based on fact! Donette Read Kruger

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