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From The CriticsTayler, a former Peace Corps worker, retraces Henry Morton Stanley's 1870s trip down the longest navigable stretch of the Congo, from Kisangani to Kinshasa, a distance of one-thousand-eighty-four miles. After arriving in Brazzaville, Tayler spends a week studying Lingala, the lingua franca of the area, and worrying about what he might encounter down the river. After taking a ferry to Kinshasa, a city so decrepit and filthy he's reminded of Hiroshima after the blast, he boards a crowded barge where all are suspicious of his motives, thinking he's there to find diamonds or other wealth. Amid all the poverty and hunger around him, Tayler begins to feel "obscene," with his stash of food and money. After twenty-one days on the barge, he hires a guide and begins his own journey, fending off ants, crocodiles, robbers and rainstorms in the process. Lush, vivid writing intensifies the tension created by both the physical demands on Tayler and the emotional conflict he feels as a rich white man in a country where history has left a mark between whites and blacks that's barely begun to fade.