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Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to…

Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown (2002)

by Paul Theroux

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,712506,174 (3.93)65
  1. 11
    The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux (John_Vaughan)
  2. 00
    Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (lauranav)
  3. 00
    A Tourist in Africa by Evelyn Waugh (John_Vaughan)
  4. 00
    Journey Without Maps by Graham Greene (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Both authors felt deeply about Africa and Greene wrote several works on this theme of inner and actual African travel. Paul returns to his Peace Corp teaching post but the books reveals his disillusionment.
  5. 00
    More Great Railway Journeys by Benedict Allen (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Chapt 2 for more on Africa - Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown. Paul Theoux
  6. 01
    When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin (bergs47)
  7. 01
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Travels in South Africa by Gavin Bell (John_Vaughan)
  8. 01
    The Blue Nile by Alan Moorehead (John_Vaughan)
  9. 01
    Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux (John_Vaughan)

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Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Excerpts from my original GR review (Apr 2012):
- By the time Theroux undertook this juggernaut of a trip along the entire length of Africa, he was approaching 60, a certified man of letters, and, you would suppose, free of any occupational pressures to expose himself to relentless hardship. But there he goes...[by] overburdened cattle trucks, oppressive taxi vans, belching ferries, always with the hum of menace nearby: the shifta (road bandits) in Kenya, crooked border agents, child beggars with nothing to lose.
- Theroux drives home the despair by way of his sharp observation. I think on some level he expected to at least find a twinkle of hope that he apparently intuited from his Peace Corp duties of forty years earlier. Grinding his way south, he witnesses lawlessness, corruption and decay up close, and if his tone comes across as critical and even downright rude at times, well, it's hard not to empathize.
- I appreciate the author's weaving of literature among the settings he encounters - Bleak House and, of course, Heart of Darkness are invoked, and near the terminus of his journey, a short story he later publishes in a collection.
- This was a great African education for me, and a fine travel memoir. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Mar 30, 2018 |
I went into this book thinking it would be another "western man goes to Africa" tale told with Paul Theroux's signature style. Yes, that's what it was - but the layering of his experiences in the Peace Corp in Malawi during the 1960's adds to the modern material in wonderful ways. It's not just about travel, but also time travel. Theroux experiences the Africa of today (or well, the 1990's) where he finds progress retreating, contrasted not only against Africa's portrayal in the media (including the books of many of his contemporaries) but also his own history and personal connections.

Scattered throughout the book is also the making of a great reading list as Theroux notes texts he finds relevant to his history or current experiences. ( )
  sarcher | Feb 9, 2018 |
I received this book as a gift and therefore felt obliged to read it; I've read other books by Theroux so I was looking forward to it. If you want a book that is non-fiction and as depressing as could be - this is it. He writes of his travels from the northern part of Africa to the south - all overland. The people he meets are fascinating, and his descriptions are marvelous, but the stories of how horrible Africa is are truly depressing. The abuses heaped upon natives by the British and French colonialists are nothing compared to the abuses heaped upon them by the current leaders, and the amount of graft and government theft is amazing in how boldly and how ruthlessly it is done. A continent that is among the richest in natural resources suffers worse than ever because of corrupt officials who take the money offered by Not-for-Profits, NGO's and do-good organizations and use it to enrich themselves while millions suffer and starve. This is a book that leaves you feeling that there is absolutely no hope for Africa. At nearly 500 pages, it was a struggle to get through. If you want an accurate and unvarnished view of Africa, and don't mind mind feel depressed every time you pick up the book - this one is for you. ( )
  bjtimm | Nov 8, 2016 |
Paul Theroux passed through Ethiopia on his travels from Cairo to Capetown, a trip described in “Dark Star Safari” (2002). He actually got on the train from Addis Ababa to Dire Dawa, the section now closed, and visited Harar, before turning south again, only to travel almost straight to the Kenyan border. A rather short stay in Ethiopia, therefore, not really worth the effort, but one can hardly expect otherwise, on such a mega-journey. I am never really captured by Paul Theroux, he writes nicely, meets lots of people, is well-read, but somehow never really gets me hooked. Matter of taste, probably.
  theonearmedcrab | May 16, 2016 |
This travelogue through Africa had a good blend of observation, personal reflections and interpretation. ( )
  BridgitDavis | Apr 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Theroux is often dour, although he finds hopeful signs that Africa will endure and overcome its present misfortunes in the sight, for instance, of a young African boatman doing complex mathematical equations amid “spitting jets of steam,” and in the constant, calming beauty of so many African places. Engagingly written, sharply observed: another winner from Theroux.
added by John_Vaughan | editKirkus (Jul 21, 2011)
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Large-leaved and many-footed shadowing,

What god rules over Africa, what shape

What avuncular cloud-man beamier than spears?

   Wallace Stevens, ‘The Greenest Continent’
For my mother, Anne Dittami Theroux,
on her ninety-first birthday
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All news out of Africa is bad.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Al het nieuws over Afrika, stelde Paul Theroux vast, is tegenwoordig slecht nieuws. Het enige dat we over de Afrikaanse landen horen, heeft te maken met hongersnood, massamoorden en natuurrampen Theroux had betere herinneringen aan het Afrikaanse continent. Hij dacht aan de vele gevaren, de liefelijkheid, de humor, de schoonheid van de natuur, en besloot per trein een reis te maken door het 'groenste deel van de wereld', waar hij veertig jaar geleden met veel plezier gewoond, gewerkt en rondgetrokken had. Hij was ervan overtuigd dat zijn nieuwe reis weer even plezierig zou worden. Maar Theroux vergiste zich. Hij werd beroofd, beschoten en beschimpt. De wegen waren een verschrikking, de treinen bevonden zich in een vreselijke slechte toestand en een infrastructuur bestond nauwelijks. Afrika leek in veertig jaar alleen maar bergafwaarts gegaan. De mensen waren hongeriger, armer, slechter opgeleid, pessimistischer en corrupter, en de politici onderscheidden zich niet langer van medicijnmannen. Theroux werd ziek en kon vaak niet verder reizen. Toch verveelde hij zich geen moment. Integendeel: zijn verblijf in Afrika werd een openbaring. De reis van Cairo naar Kaapstad bleek een nieuw reisboek dubbel en dwars waard te zijn.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618446877, Paperback)

In Dark Star Safari the wittily observant and endearingly irascible Paul Theroux takes readers the length of Africa by rattletrap bus, dugout canoe, cattle truck, armed convoy, ferry, and train. In the course of his epic and enlightening journey, he endures danger, delay, and dismaying circumstances.
Gauging the state of affairs, he talks to Africans, aid workers, missionaries, and tourists. What results is an insightful meditation on the history, politics, and beauty of Africa and its people, and "a vivid portrayal of the secret sweetness, the hidden vitality, and the long-patient hope that lies just beneath the surface" (Rocky Mountain News). In a new postscript, Theroux recounts the dramatic events of a return to Africa to visit Zimbabwe.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:08 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The author recounts his odyssey down the length of Africa, from Cairo to South Africa, describing the bad food, many delays, discomforts, and dangers of his trip, along with the people and places of the real Africa.

» see all 6 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140281118, 0141037296

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