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Facing the Congo: A Modern-Day Journey Into the Heart of Darkness

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  • Posted November 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A candle lights "dark continent"

    It's funny, but I actually want to look up other things Jeffrey Tayler has written, to see if he really is as depressed as he seems to be. He planned and took this godforsaken trip (in the 1990's) to the Congo to break a personal downward spiral, and lo! it just got worse. He has the grace to admit it was a very bad idea, but we all have to admit he wouldn't have known that until he tried it. He is brutally frank: "My drama of self-actualization proved obscenely trivial beside the suffering of the Zaireans and the injustices of their past." He never finished the trip--taking a barge up the Congo River to Kisangani and then taking a pirogue down again to Kinshasa--the longest navigable stretch (1,084 miles) recreating a portion of Stanley's historic journey.

    This is similiar to the trip taken by British author Tim Butcher (in 2004?) in Blood River. Butcher had Tayler's work to learn from, and acknowledges that earlier attempt, though the scope of his trip was a little different and ten years later. Sadly things seemed only to have gotten more harrowing in the Congo, a country completely ungoverned and lawless. How does man function in such a state? Very badly indeed. I can't imagine what it would take for residents to unlearn the distrust and suspicion that has kept them alive in such a place and actually begin to cooperate with each other to achieve something better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2005


    This was most definetly not one of the best books I've read. It was not only very slow moving, but most of the book was now about the authors decent down the congo river, but rather his preparations for it. The ending also dissapointed me immensely. However, it does give one the unapoligetic view of the Congo and its many dangers. It is good as a reference book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2004

    Facing the Congo: A Modern-Day Journey into the Heart of Darkness

    Brave or foolish? Or is the writer the ultimate thrill seeker? What a story..what a book! Of all the books I have read this was possibly the most thrilling. This writer goes into the Congo Republic alone to travel the Congo River on a progue (narrow canoe). What was he thinking? He had to deal with the river, weather, different tribal cultures (many of which would have killed him if they'd only had the chance), along with animals, bugs, diseases, and the ever present danger he faced for being caucasion (due to past crimes brought on to the peoples of these remote areas by europeans, arabs, and others). The only book I have ever read that had me on the edge of my seat! I wish I'd never read it so I could read it again for the first time!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2003

    Facing the Congo: A Modern-Day Journey into the Heart of Darkness

    This book is within the top five most exciting books I have ever read (I read non-fiction only). A true but sad account of the state of affairs in the Congo Republic. This book has it all. Intense writing about the dangers the writer faced from the current politics, people, cultures along the Congo River, along with wild animals, bugs, the weather... all ready to deny the writer his life at any given moment. A riviting experience in reading!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2002

    Amazing Insight and Beautifully Written

    The author, gives vivid descriptions of the proverty and starvation those in the Congo experience daily. I reccommend this to those planning a trip to Africa, or who are just interested. It also dives into the political past of Africa, giving examples such as Mobuto and Patrise Lumumba, and the damage Mobuto has done, that will continue o drive the Congo into debt.

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