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Congo by Michael Crichton

Congo (original 1980; edition 2003)

by Michael Crichton

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6,37981921 (3.26)82
Authors:Michael Crichton
Info:Avon (2003), Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
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Congo by Michael Crichton (1980)


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(Original Review, 1980-11-15)

Here is how Michael Crichton describes Amy, the principal love object in "Congo": "She could be coy, she responded to flattery, she was preoccupied with her appearance, loved make-up, and was very fussy about the collar of the sweaters she wore in the winter." Although she is quite short, Amy weighs 140 pounds. She has a vocabulary of 620 words, which is remarkably good for a gorilla. Karen Ross, the other female in "Congo," is almost six feet tall, attractive but ungainly. She is a mathematical prodigy, brilliant but insensitive, determined to succeed at any cost. Her feminine wiles have been confined to technology. Peter Elliot, a young professor working in the field of primate communication, has taught Amy to talk - not in words, but sign language. His whole life is dominated by Amy. By the time you have read this far in "Congo," you will be wondering how Peter and Karen are going to be brought together, and how this will affect Amy.

Crichton is the Alvin Toffler of suspense fiction, and "Congo" might be described as a romance of technology. Computers and all kinds of electronic equipment are pitted against the primeval, in the form of gorillas, the rain forest of the Congo, and a volcano.

Crichton is also virtuoso of research. He can describe the look and feel of a rain forest as well as the latest safari gadgetry. When Karen and Peter go to the Congo with Amy, their equipment suggests an L. L. Bean catalog of the next century. Readers of suspense novels seem to be willing to absorb any amount of information in the process of being entertained, and Crichton has quite a lot to say about theories of communication, about the information industry and technology, about computers, the warfare of the future, and other such arcane subjects. He also describes a typical Pygmy meal, the current status of cannibalism in Africa, shooting rabbits in a rubber raft and fighting off a murderous attack by hippos. At one point, Amy saves Peter from a male gorilla by treating him as her infant.

"Congo" also includes an ancient city buried in the jungle and guarded by a tribe of "missing links" who talk by sighing and crush intruders' heads between stone spoons. We've come a long way from Tarzan.

It would not be fair to tell you who wins the battle of the sexes. It is enough to say that both Amy and Karen are formidable females. For these and all the usual reasons, "Congo" is very amusing reading, even if, in its originality, Crichton denies us some of the vulgar gratifications of the genre. ( )
  antao | Nov 7, 2018 |
This book very much reminded me of a book out of the Pendergast series by Lee Child and Douglas Preston. The only part that was missing was Agent Pendergast. The book presents the reader with a strange mystery happening in the Congo, and we quickly find ourselves diving into something more mysterious and unexplainable than we realized. It’s a tad eerie and a tad unbelievable, but not too much! I really enjoyed it. ( )
  justagirlwithabook | Oct 20, 2018 |
This has been on my to-read list for 20 years. I enjoyed most it, but the ending felt like a huge let down. Overall, I liked it but was disappointed. ( )
  neverstopreading | Aug 29, 2018 |
3.5 stars ( )
  mitabird | Jun 10, 2018 |
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 |
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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
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)

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Three adventurers trek into the Congo in search of the diamonds of the Lost City of Zinj.

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.26)
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