When Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Butcher was sent to cover Africa in 2000 he quickly became obsessed with the idea of recreating H.M. Stanley's famous expedition - but travelling alone.
Despite warnings that his plan was 'suicidal', Butcher set out for the Congo's eastern border with just a rucksack and a few thousand dollars hidden in his boots. Making his way in an assortment of vessels including a motorbike and a dugout canoe, helped along by a cast of characters from UN aid workers to a campaigning pygmy, he followed in the footsteps of the great Victorian adventurers.
Butcher's journey was a remarkable feat, but the story of the Congo, told expertly and vividly in this book, is more remarkable still.
About Tim Butcher
Tim Butcher is a best-selling British author, journalist and broadcaster. Born in 1967, he was on the staff of The Daily Telegraph from 1990 to 2009, covering conflicts across the Balkans, Middle East and Africa. Recognised in 2010 with an honorary doctorate for services to writing and awarded the Mungo Park Medal for exploration by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, he is based with his family in Cape Town, South Africa.
I have read books on the tribal culture of Africa, and of the wildlife and changing ecology. I bought this book to get a better understanding of the political infrastructure and history, and thus far the Congo has been the greatest mystery to me.
Blood River, by war correspondent Tim Butcher, has given me an insight into the kleptocratic governments that have set African countries backward and prevented them from joining the modern trading global economy with all the rich resources they have to offer. I felt a great sense of shame from how they have been exploited, costing millions of human lives from the days of the old colonialists, in the Congo's case, Belgium, but Britain was no better.
Tim Butcher set himself a challenge to retrace the journey Henry Morton Stanley, a journalist himself who rose to fame when he found Livingstone and then traveled 3000 km from East Africa to the Atlantic Ocean in the West.
The journey was perilous from start to finish, in terms of navigating the river, the corrupt military regime, and the rebel soldiers. Mr. Butcher lived through hunger and disease to achieve his goal that everybody said would be impossible.
I can't think of another book that has cost so much of a man to write, and for this reason, I could not rate this any lower than five stars. A thought-provoking journal that has raised my awareness of the plight of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which I will never forget.