Crazy River: Exploration and Folly in East Africa

Crazy River: Exploration and Folly in East Africa

4.6 5
by Richard Grant
     
 

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NO ONE TRAVELS QUITE LIKE RICHARD GRANT and, really, no one should. In his last book, the adventure classic God’s Middle Finger, he narrowly escaped death in Mexico’s lawless Sierra Madre. Now, Grant has plunged with his trademark recklessness, wit, and curiosity into East Africa. Setting out to make the first descent of an unexplored river inSee more details below

Overview

NO ONE TRAVELS QUITE LIKE RICHARD GRANT and, really, no one should. In his last book, the adventure classic God’s Middle Finger, he narrowly escaped death in Mexico’s lawless Sierra Madre. Now, Grant has plunged with his trademark recklessness, wit, and curiosity into East Africa. Setting out to make the first descent of an unexplored river in Tanzania, he gets waylaid in Zanzibar by thieves, whores, and a charismatic former golf pro before crossing the Indian Ocean in a rickety cargo boat. And then the real adventure begins. Known to local tribes as “the river of bad spirits,” the Malagarasi River is a daunting adversary even with a heavily armed Tanzanian crew as travel companions. Dodging bullets, hippos, and crocodiles, Grant finally emerges in war-torn Burundi, where he befriends some ethnic street gangsters and trails a notorious man-eating crocodile known as Gustave. He concludes his journey by interviewing the dictatorial president of Rwanda and visiting the true source of the Nile. Gripping, illuminating, sometimes harrowing, often hilarious, Crazy River is a brilliantly rendered account of a modern-day exploration of Africa, and the unraveling of Grant’s peeled, battered mind as he tries to take it all in.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Armchair explorers, rejoice! Richard Grant has gone where we dare not and brought back the news in all its rich, harrowing and lucid detail. The best book about Africa since Paul Theroux's Dark Star Safari.” —T.C. Boyle, author of The Women and When the Killing’s Done

“Heading for Tanzania, intent on exploration- a first descent of the Malagarasi River-, Richard Grant instead finds himself in the shadow of Burton and Speke, Stanley and Livingston on an altogether unexpected frontier of the unknown- the reality of contemporary Africa. The result is a kaleidoscopic romp through chaos, contradiction, madness and wonder. A fierce account, honestly told, and refreshingly frank.” –Wade Davis, author of One River and Into the Silence

“In his last book when he was being chased by killers in Mexico for a couple days I questioned Richard Grant’s sanity in trying to be the first to travel the length of Tanzania’s Malagarasi River. The hippos and crocodiles are the problem, also the dreadful diseases that daily afflict you. This is a truly wonderful book about East Africa.” –Jim Harrison, author of Returning to Earth

“Way back when, we crawled out of the Great Rift in Africa. Richard Grant explains that this ancient womb is the theater of our future. This coming world will have a lot of people fighting over dwindling piles of junk. This future will looks a lot like murder. This time we are all going down Crazy River and forget the damn life jackets. They belong to the past we devoured. Let Richard Grant take you to your new home. But let me warn you: we will not get home before dark.” —Charles Bowden, author of Murder City

“As he did in God's Middle Finger, Grant takes us into a world where few willingly venture. His feverish journey from Zanzibar, down an uncharted river and into the broken heart of 21st century Africa is by turns funny, poignant, frightening and deeply disturbing. The future Grant shows us with such lucidity and compassion is one his predecessors, Stanley, Livingstone and Burton could never have envisioned.” –John Vaillant, author of The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

Fear and loathing in East Africa as travel writer Grant traverses the ravaged continent in search of a mysterious river and the source of the Nile...Dyspeptic, disturbing and brilliantly realized, Grant’s account of Africa is literally unforgettable." —Kirkus Reviews

"A mixture of offbeat characters and travelogue, an entertaining and informative first-person account of a man who’s very much out of his element but very keen to learn everything he can." —Booklist

"Grant’s gift for getting detoured...makes this one of the year’s most surprising adventure books, taking us well beyond jungle and river..part sociologist, part journalist, and “more interested in what happened along the way than achieving goals or reaching destinations.” —Men's Journal

"as detailed in this thoroughly engrossing new book, Crazy River: Exploration and Folly in East Africa, Grant's quest for adventure and discovery didn't go unrewarded." —Tucson Weekly

"This is Grant’s third travel book, and he strikes a wonderful balance between evoking the sepia-toned, blood-stained, imperialist past and the hungry, gritty independent realism of modern East Africa. Never one to focus on his own accomplishments, and slow to judge others, he manages to serve up equal portions of humility and pathos." —Lonely Planet

"To discover Africa is a quest that has burned away at the European soul since Ptolemy. Richard Grant goes on his own by bus, boat and foot to reach the source of the (White) Nile and find out what really drives Africa." —San Francisco Book Review

"To discover Africa is a quest that has burned away at the European soul since Ptolemy. Richard Grant goes on his own by bus, boat and foot to reach the source of the (White) Nile and find out what really drives Africa." —San Francisco Book Review

Library Journal
Ah, the mighty Malagarasi River! Few people have heard of the second-longest river in Tanzania; when Grant (God's Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre) learned about it, he became a bit obsessed with rafting the river from its headwaters to Lake Tanganyika. After two years of planning, Grant finally got his chance to follow in the footsteps of fellow British explorers, including his personal favorite Richard Francis Burton, and set out across East Africa. From Zanzibar to the Tanzanian mainland, Burundi, and Rwanda, Grant encountered a former African golf pro, prostitutes, expats, NGO workers, big-game hunters and guides, government officials (mostly corrupt), poachers, and refugees; interviewed the president of Rwanda; met many Africans struggling to stay alive; and tried to survive his East African adventure. VERDICT For those of us who like our travel stories realistic, humorous, with a dash of history, and filled with a cast of crazy characters, places, and situations, this book will not disappoint. Highly recommended for a wide range of readers.—Melissa Aho, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis
Kirkus Reviews

Fear and loathing in East Africa as travel writer Grant (God's Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre, 2008, etc.) traverses the ravaged continent in search of a mysterious river and the source of the Nile.

The Malagarasi River in Tanzania had not been fully traveled by either Westerners or Africans. So, the tradition of 19th-century British explorers, first and foremost Richard Burton, who became his spectral travel companion, Grant set out to do so. But his adventures on the river—disease and disappointment, danger from crocs, hippos and bandits—became but part of his larger story about what Africa is and how to make sense of it. The author narrates his stops in Zanzibar, where he befriended a golf pro (on an island where there is no golf course), across Tanzania to Lake Tanganyika and on to Burundi and Rwanda, both ravaged by genocide and ethnic civil war. The journey nearly destroyed him: "Africa had ground away at my sanity and well-being." In Grant's Africa, verdant plains had become a "devastated moonscape" due to cattle overgrazing, mammoth slums overwhelmed cities overseen by corrupt leaders who got fat on the spoils of the Western "aid industry." He concludes that Africa "was a shambles and a disgrace." This may be a selective and overly harsh conclusion, but he tempers his indictment with an unerring eye for detail that imbues those he meets with dignity and humanity. The hustlers and whores of the dive bars he often frequented are seen, if blurrily, with compassion, and Grant marvels at the hope and enthusiasm of so many in the poorest nation in the world, Burundi. The joy of Congolese pop music and the craze for the country music of Kenny Rogers reassure him that resilience and resurgence may also be part of Africa. The source of the Nile, it turned out, was merely a "moss-fringed rabbit hole with a thin dribble of water leaking out of it."

Dyspeptic, disturbing and brilliantly realized, Grant's account of Africa is literally unforgettable.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439157640
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
10/25/2011
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
806,093
File size:
2 MB

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