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Congo by Michael Crichton
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Congo (original 1980; edition 2003)

by Michael Crichton

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6,22577652 (3.25)77
Member:mmiller112
Title:Congo
Authors:Michael Crichton
Info:Avon (2003), Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
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Congo by Michael Crichton (1980)

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Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
This is the first Michael Crichton book I have read in some time. I had greatly enjoyed all of his previous books, but this one fell short of my expectations. I had seen the movie made from this book a couple of times before, and although the book was very different, I think it ruined the suspense of the story a great deal. Also, this book was published in 1980 and Crichton spends a lot of time explaining technological advances. We have come so far since then that there was no excitement in it for me. All in all, not one of the author's best efforts and a disappointment. ( )
  msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
Congo's story is one I first experienced in the mid-90s film of the same name, in which a band of scientists and armed soldiers make their way into the heart of the African Congo region, in hopes of finding the lost city of Zinj. Their reason beyond obvious archaeological studies? To find rare Type II blue diamonds that could be used in high-end electronics and couldn't be reasonably and inexpensively produced in a lab in the 70s. The first expedition to Zinj ended with the expedition party seemingly killed by attacks from a gray gorilla, which prompts the second group to employ a primate researcher and his gorilla (who can do sign language), Amy, to aid in their trip.

Along the way they deal with competing international groups trying to nab the exclusive mining rights for themselves, the turbulent and violent African governments that thwart progress, cannibalistic natives and dangerous animals of the jungle.

I've always enjoyed Crichton's approach to writing, in that his books are as much fictional adventure as they are educational documentary. He cites sources at the end of his books, and many things in his writings feel grounded in reality more often than not. Set in 1979, the Congo story has a few glaring plot issues/source problems though, such as the speed at which real-time imagery can be transmitted from Africa to satellite to Houston to satellite and back to Africa, which the author claims is about a half-second (I've had satellite internet and latency in North America alone is typically 600-700 milliseconds on simple Google searches in the 2010s) ... and the speed at which Elliot's research assistant can decode animal linguistic and movement patterns (in hours or days vs weeks) ... and the speed at which Ross and Elliot do editing of animal sounds using a computer with a paltry 256K of memory (mere hours, after a series of terrifying animal attacks).

Aside from those nitpicks, the story itself is overall very solid, but there's not much humanity or emotion in all of it. Even by the end you don't get the sense that Ross has changed (or her boss, who wants lucrative contracts at all costs)... and the way the epilogue wraps up and shows the consequences of the failed expedition doesn't really satisfy. Additionally, a few sequences such as Amy's kidnapping, the lackluster Zinj exploration (which was found with relative ease!) and the end balloon escape felt unbelievable, but the overall story is good enough that you can forgive its shortcomings.

The imagery of the African world is compelling and keeps you hooked, but ultimately I'd have to say the film version is probably the better route to go because it humanizes Ross and Elliot more, and has a more satisfying conclusion. ( )
  minimalismscott | Apr 2, 2018 |
It was good. Shorter than I expected, but still good :) ( )
  fogisbeautiful | Feb 13, 2018 |
In the early 1990s I went through a period of reading books that were being adapted into movies. I don't know why I did this, or at least why I continued to do this after the first few books were very average. Congo was one of the last books I read in this vein before finally giving up on it (and fiction in general).

A fairly average telling of a story about a talking gorilla and a bunch of scientific offsiders who travel to darkest Congo to find a lost city. Not overly memorable things happen to them.

I'm sure there are plenty of talking monkey books that would be a better read than this. Indeed, the movie adaption was better than the book, due manly to Ernie Hudson's involvement. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Jan 30, 2018 |
It was amusing to read Crichton's predictions about the future of computing and warfare, since this book is from 1980. If you keep in mind when he was writing, the idea that boron infused blue diamonds are worth such an expedition is not so crazy. I like that there are parallel threads on language and undiscovered intelligent apes, rainforest ecology and the natural history of the Congo, and the notion of specialized information companies that can mount such expeditions as the one in this book. I also like that, despite the blatant sexism of some of the men in this book, the expedition is led by a woman, and she is portrayed more or less as a capable leader. She has her occasional meltdowns, which are a bit cliche, but she is a mathematician, after all, not a wilderness survival nut, and Peter Elliot has his share of meltdowns too, a surprisingly even treatment of gender for 1980. ( )
1 vote JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
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Epigraph
The more experience and insight I obtain into human nature, the more convinced do I become that the greater portion of a man is purely animal. --Henry Morton Stanley, 1887
The large male [gorilla] held my attention. . . . He gave an impression of dignity and restrained power, of absolute certainty in his majestic appearance. I felt a desire to communicate with him. . . . Never before had I had this feeling on meeting an animal. As we watched each other across the valley, I wondered if he recognized the kinship that bound us. --George B. Schaller, 1964
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For Bob Gottlieb
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Dawn came to the Congo rain forest. The pale sun burned away the morning chill and the clinging damp mist, revealing a gigantic silent world.
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Book description
A twentieth-century adventure that will plunge you into the heart of Africa with three intrepid adventurers, in a desperate bid to find the fabulous diamonds of the Lost City of Zinj. In it you will encounter the Kigani cannibals, flaming volcanoes, ferocious gorillas, and Amy. Cuddly, fluent in sign language, and fun to be with: in a tight situation she's the smartest gorilla you're ever likely to meet.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060541830, Mass Market Paperback)

If you saw the 1995 film adaptation of this Crichton thriller, somebody owes you an apology. While you're waiting for that to happen, try reading the vastly more intelligent novel on which the movie was based. The broad lines of the plot remain the same: A research team deep in the jungle disappears after a mysterious and grisly gorilla attack. A subsequent team, including a sign-language-speaking simian named Amy, follows the original team's tracks only to be subjected to more mysterious and grisly gorilla attacks. If you can look past the breathless treatment of '80s technology, like voice-recognition software and 256K RAM modules (the book was written in 1980), you'll find the same smart use of science and edge-of-your-seat suspense shared by Crichton's other work. --Paul Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:35 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

On an expedition to return Amy, his talking gorilla, to her home in the Congo, Professor Peter Elliot is joined by others who hope to find a legendary diamond mine guarded by mutant gorillas.

(summary from another edition)

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