Rocklin, CA, United States | Member Since 2004
This book -- and recording -- succeeds on so many levels it's hard to know where to start. If you like Bill Bryson, you'll love this one, too.
First of all, it's a captivating listen, so compelling it's almost impossible to find a place to stop.
Beyond that, it offers one man's view of Africa, and African history, beginning in Egypt all the way through South Africa. For much of the contemporary story of Africa, Thoreau writes about the 'Agents of Virtue' -- foreign missionaries and charities -- who have been "serving" in Africa for hundreds of years, with apparently no success whatever. His ridicule of these do-gooders -- who seem to drive around in white vans and do little more than perpetuate their own positions -- is both funny and well presented. Why, indeed, has Africa been the subject of charity for so many hundreds or years? Thoreau's argument makes perfect sense to me.
It's also a great literary read -- I loved the comparisons to Dicken's "Mrs. Jellybe", to Twain's 'Innocents Abroad' and to other works about Africa. It was fun hearing him tell about his own other books on Africa, and how they were received by Africans.
But maybe the best part of all is the sheer pleasure of the audicious story itself -- how this not-young man hitched rides in cattle trucks, rattle-trap buses, slept on the ground, avoided snakes, ate what they ate, wore clothes from the charity piles, all to fit in, to get the real feeling of Africa.
This is a book I will listen to again and again --If you've read this far, you've gotta buy this book. It's one of the best. Absolutely unforgettable.
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