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Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to…

Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown (original 2002; edition 2004)

by Paul Theroux

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1,626484,455 (3.92)57
Title:Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown
Authors:Paul Theroux
Info:Mariner Books (2004), Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library

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

  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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» See also 57 mentions

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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 |
In Dark Star Safari, Paul Theroux documents his trek by train, boat, car and foot from Cairo to Capetown. I read it as part of Reading Globally's Africa segment in February.

Theroux visits the countries of Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambibique and South Africa. Rather than a travelogue, the book is more a story of Theroux's personal journey, hitching rides on decrepit steamers on Lake Victoria, escaping the murderous 'shifta' on the Bandit Road in northern Kenya, and other adventures, as he revisits his past (he spent many years in Africa as a young man), and muses on how much Africa has changed, usually for the worse in his opinion. He mourns that beautiful Thikka has become 'a congested maze of improvised houses and streets thick with lurking kids and traffic and an odor of decrepitude.'

Some of his colleagues from his time in Africa have risen to positions of power, including Apolo Nsibambi, prime minister of Uganda, and he is able to visit with them. Many of these former colleagues decry the fact that young, educated Africans often choose to leave Africa. I found the abandonment of Africa by its educated children to be a recurring theme in some of the African literature I read or read about on Reading Globally.

Theroux visited the Peace Corps school he helped establish as a young man, and found it a shambles, with broken windows, dirty floors, and empty library shelves. He is very critical of most aid efforts in Africa, comparing them to the efforts of Mrs. Jelleby in Bleak House. He comes across many foreign aid workers who seem clueless about their function in Africa and what, if anything, they are accomplishing, as they crisscross the countryside in their brand new, white SUVs. (He is particularly curmudgeonly about these aid workers because they are frequently reluctant to pick him up as a hitchhiker).

Theroux also describes an evening at a literary salon in Cairo with Naguib Mahouz, a side trip to Harar, Ethiopia, where Rimbaud forsook civilization and poetry and became a trader in arms and elephant tusks, and numerous other diversions.

At times, it was difficult to keep the countries and towns separate, since they share so many of the same problems and geographically they can be similar, as they morph into one another. The various tribal peoples, although living in physical proximity with each other, seem for the most part to remain suspicious of each other. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jan 20, 2016 |
32 of 75 for 2015. I'll admit it. I love Paul Theroux's travel books. I especially love the train books, and at least part of Dark Star Safari involves train travel, but also bus travel and even riding in the back of a truck travel. As he says, it's overland from Cairo to Cape Town, with all the exoticism that implies. I have no desire to visit Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe--well maybe Victoria Falls--but even so, Theroux makes me just a little bit jealous of the adventures he has while crossing Africa north to south. He brings the people and the places to life in my imagination, and has me practically itching to start reading Nadine Gordimer. As this was an Audible.com download, I listened to it in my car as I was out exploring western Montana. Yes! Listening to travel lit while traveling. Heaven in my book. Highly recommended! ( )
  mtbearded1 | Apr 11, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (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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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.

(summary from another edition)

» 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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