About the Author
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 Stanleys 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 Congos 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.
Butchers journey was a remarkable feat. But the story of the Congo, vividly told in Blood River, is more remarkable still.
From the Hardcover edition.
Reading Group Guide
1. What do you think of Tim Butchers decision to go on this journey in the Congo? Was it brave or foolhardy? Intrepid or insane? Would you ever consider such a journey yourself? If so, why?
2. Do you think Tim is correct, that you can only understand a country by visiting it in person? If so, is it possible to gain a comprehensive understanding of a country by just travelling through, or do you think its necessary to live somewhere to get to know it properly?
3. Do you think it gives a fair picture of life in the Congo? Would a Congolese voice tell things differently?
4. What did you know about the Congo before reading Blood River? Did reading it change your perception of the country? If so, how?
5. Which episode in the book sticks most clearly in your head?
6. In what ways does Tim Butcher explore the relationship between Europe and Africa in Blood River?
7. How does his final route compare to that of H.M Stanleys expedition?
8. Do you think that Tim Butchers portrayal of the Congo and its future is for the most part positive, or pessimistic? What are your own feelings and what, if anything, do you think should be done?