This is an unashamedly sentimental journey. In his 20s, young Paul
Theroux was a teacher and Peace Corp volunteer in Africa. 40 years
later, he goes in search of this lost youth. The book works to an
old-fashioned formula, retracing the great treks of an earlier age
of exploration - the feted Cairo to Cape overland route. The
sensibilities are often old-fashioned, too. No chapter escapes
curmudgeonly comments about how new-fangled inventions have ruined
primitive places, from mobile phones to 'the way the Internet and
our age of information have destroyed the pleasure of discovery in
travel'. But if the feelings are from a former era, Theroux is
initially keen to be seen as younger than his years. 'I was so
self-conscious of my age that I often asked Africans to guess how
old I was, hoping - perhaps knowing in advance - they would give me
a low figure,' he writes. The answers ranged from 40-something all
the way to 52 - still gratifyingly way too low. Hoping to find the
spiritual secret to everlasting youth, he wends his way down to
Uganda and the school where he been so happy teaching four decades
earlier. But the more shadows of his past he revisited, the more he
began to see the strength of his present. Africa became, he writes,
'an adventure in rejuvenation'. 'I now knew: The old are not as
frail as you think.... They are full of ideas, hidden powers, even
sexual energy. Don't be fooled by the thin hair and the battered
features and the scepticism. The older traveller knows it best: in
our hearts we are youthful... for we have come to know that the
years have made us more powerful and certainly streetwise.' Towards
the end of his journey, he wrote in his diary, 'I do not want to be
young again. I am happy being what I am.' As a travel book, Dark
Star Safari excels. As an autobiography about growing old, it
soars. Review by Dea Birkett (Kirkus UK)
Paul Theroux sets off for Cape Town from Cairo - the hard way. Travelling across bush and desert, down rivers and across lakes, and through country after country - Egypt, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa - he visits some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, and some of the most dangerous. It is a journey of discovery and rediscovery - of the unknown and the unexpected, but also of people and places he knew as a young and optimistic teacher forty years before.
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Review This Product
Mon, 19 May 2008 | Review by: Paul K
This is a very well-written account of one man's journey through Africa from Cairo to Cape Town using public transport. His comments about the countries he travels through and the people he meets are thought-provoking and extremely insightful. This book should be required reading for all aid agencies working in Africa.
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