Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through The World's Most Dangerous Country

Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through The World's Most Dangerous Country

by Tim Butcher

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Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through The World's Most Dangerous Country by Tim Butcher

Published to rave reviews in the United Kingdom and named a Richard & Judy Book Club selection—the only work of nonfiction on the 2008 list— Blood River is the harrowing and audacious story of Tim Butcher’s journey in the Congo and his retracing of legendary explorer H. M. Stanley’s famous 1874 expedition in which he mapped the Congo River. When Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Butcher was sent to Africa in 2000 he quickly became obsessed with the legendary Congo River and the idea of recreating Stanley’s journey along the three-thousand-mile waterway. Despite warnings that his plan was suicidal, Butcher set out for the Congo’s eastern border with just a backpack and a few thousand dollars hidden in his boots. Making his way in an assortment of vehicles, including a motorbike and a dugout canoe, helped along by a cast of characters from UN aid workers to a pygmy rights advocate, he followed in the footsteps of the great Victorian adventurer. An utterly absorbing narrative that chronicles Butcher’s forty-four-day journey along the Congo River, Blood River is an unforgettable story of exploration and survival.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802144331
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 419,472
Product dimensions: 5.54(w) x 8.28(h) x 1.01(d)

About the Author

Tim Butcher has worked for the Daily Telegraph since 1990 as foreign affairs leader writer, defense correspondent and Africa Bureau Chief. He is currently living in Jerusalem where he is The Telegraph’s Middle East correspondent.

Table of Contents

Preface     xi
Africa's Broken Heart     1
The Final Frontier     29
Cobalt Town     51
The Pearl of Tanganyika     75
Walked to Death     117
The Jungle Books     153
Up a River Without a Paddle     177
Pirogue Progress     211
The Equator Express     231
Bend in the River     253
River Passage     291
Road Rage     317
Epilogue     343
Bibliography     347
Acknowledgements     349
Index     351

Reading Group Guide

A compulsively readable account of a journey to the Congo — a country virtually inaccessible to the outside world — vividly told by a daring and adventurous journalist.

Ever since Stanley first charted its mighty river in the 1870s, the Congo has epitomized the dark and turbulent history of a failed continent. However, its troubles only served to increase the interest of Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Butcher, who was sent to cover Africa in 2000. Before long he became obsessed with the idea of recreating Stanley’s original expedition — but travelling alone.

Despite warnings Butcher spent years poring over colonial-era maps and wooing rebel leaders before making his will and venturing to the Congo’s eastern border. He passed through once thriving cities of this country and saw the marks left behind by years of abuse and misrule. Almost, 2,500 harrowing miles later, he reached the Atlantic Ocean, a thinner and a wiser man.

Butcher’s journey was a remarkable feat. But the story of the Congo, vividly told in Blood River, is more remarkable still.

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Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through The World's Most Dangerous Country 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
McFriendly More than 1 year ago
This book was gripping and un-put-downable. Tim Butcher skillfully conveys the menace and terror that lurks around every bend of the jungle trail as he tries to retrace Stanley's journey through one of the most dangerous countries on earth. He also illustrates (powerfully) how the Congo has devolved - from a bustling, civilized destination for tourism and commerce (in the 1950s) to the decrepit, festering backwater it is today. Best scene? When he arrives at a missionary's remote house deep in the jungle - and the terrified occupant urges him to leave post haste. Honestly one of the best travel books I've ever read and a sad commentary on a country most of the world has forgotten.
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
What is it with me and muggy, hot, equatorial places and rivers? Like the book The Lost City of Z by David Grann, Blood River recounts the tale of Tim Butcher's crazy obsession to the trace the routes of a great explorer, Stanley in this case, through the Congo. While the rest of the world has become more accessible in the past half century, these two equatorial locales on different continents show that winning a battle (finding a route, establishing a forward post, or even building a city) is not winning a war (creating a functioning state). Vegetation has reclaimed much of the railway in the Congo, and once busy trading hubs have fallen into disrepair with no functioning services. Rule of law is unknown. Despair is endemic. In a way, the Congo may be a perfect example of how bad things can get when a state goes so wrong that great wealth of a few is squandered in the face of the unbounded poverty of the majority. And the resources are there for everyone to share in the future. All I could think was to have millions and millions of people descend on the Congo at once--the equivalent of holding a thrashing baby to silence it--and rock it into silence, until it unclenched enough to learn and notice there might be a better way to get what one needs. It is a terrible waste. Mankind is not always to be admired. We need to find a way to bring out the best in the Congo.
tjs83 More than 1 year ago
This book about the Congo provides great insight into a little known topic. It is very well written and the blend between history and the author's experiences are very good. The book will make you a little upset about the way things are there. I recommend this to everyone.
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
Everything about this book screamed me. I am an adventure traveler and the prospect of recreating Stanley's trip down the Congo definitely seemed like something I would thoroughly enjoy. How could it go wrong? With arrogance and elitism. Had this book been simply about the lush, tropics of the Congo and the challenges posed by travel through an undeveloped part of the world, I probably would have liked it more. However, Mr. Butcher instead dabbles into political commentary and makes some really outrageous statements about pre-and post-colonial Congo. Even THAT could have been forgiven since I don't need to read books that conform to my POV. No. The thing that turned me off completely was Mr. Butcher's imposition on the UN and other international humanitarian organizations for its scarce resources and manpower. Then, worse was his presumption that he would be helped along simply because his idea is a fantastical one. I mean, who WOULDN'T want to help a white dude in the Congo along on his vanity project. And then, he has the audacity to criticize the conditions that slowed him down and, ultimately, made his vanity project impossible. Honestly. I've never read such an oblivious book.
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But a slow read
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