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Book Review - Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown by Paul Theroux

My first Theroux travelogue was Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, a journey in which the venerable travel writer retraced a trip he took thirty five years ago. In Dark Star Safari Mr. Theroux does something similar - he goes on a trip from Cairo to Cape Town, covering the landmass of that great and wondrous continent, a place that seems to cling hungrily to its moniker of the dark continent.

Theroux eschews air travel, as anyone whose read any of his travel books will know well. Mr. Theroux Africa is on a different planet, on a Dark Star as the author keeps reminding us. He compares the Africa of 2001 with the Africa he lived in forty years ago when he taught at a small school in Malawi and then at the Makerere University in Uganda, and most everywhere he sees an Africa "on the wane". He encounters pretentious aid workers driving around in expensive Land Rovers, self righteous missionaries, indifferent bureaucracy and superstitious politicians. He also meets some old friends and makes a few new ones. I found the story of an almost deaf Naguib Mahfouz holding court a Cairo hotel delightful.

There is much to recommend and very little to distract. f you are familiar with Paul Theroux' other work you already know his writing is not exactly full of hope but it is excellent. Highly recommended.

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