Synopses & Reviews
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.
From the Hardcover edition.
"'For me terror manifests itself through clear physical symptoms, an ache that grows behind my knees and a choking dryness in my throat,' writes British journalist Butcher in the preface of this devastating yet strangely exhilarating account of his six-week ordeal retracing the steps of 19th-century explorer H.M. Stanley's Victorian-era travels through the present-day hell that is the Republic of Congo. Setting out into the war-torn, disease-infested backcountry of Congo in 2000 against the wishes of just about everyone in his life family, friends, editors and a wild assortment of government officials (the corrupt and the more corrupt) Butcher quickly finds more horror than he'd previously experienced in his 10 years as a war correspondent ('With my own eyes I had peered into a hidden African world where human bones too numerous to bury were left lying on the ground'). His tale is chock-a-block with gruesome details about the brutal Belgian rule of the late 19th century as well as the casual disregard for life on the contemporary scene. Part travelogue, part straight-forward reportage, Butcher's story is a full-throated lament for large-scale human potential wasted with no reasonable end in sight." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Published to rave reviews in the United Kingdom and named a Richard & Judy Book Club selectionthe only work of nonfiction on the 2008 listBlood River is the harrowing and audacious story of Tim Butcher's journey in the Congo and his retracing of renowned 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 re-creating Stanley's legendary 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 rucksack 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 adventurers. An utterly absorbing narrative that chronicles Tim Butcher's forty-four-day journey along the Congo River, Blood River is an unforgettable story of exploration and survival.
"Blood River" offers 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.