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Congo Journey

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  1,037 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Combining the acute observation of a nineteenth-century missionary, and the wit of a Monty Python player, Redmond O'Hanlon is famous for his adventurous travel. His new challenge is the Congo, the most dangerous and inhospitable jungle in the world.
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Published March 1st 2005 by Penguin UK (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,505)
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Juha
Aug 27, 2011 Juha rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nature lovers, especially those into Africa.
This is a erudite, funny and wise travel book. Redmond O’Hanlon travels into the heart of the Congo on an expedition that lasts for months and is full of challenges, mishaps and danger. His travel companions are Marcellin Agnagna, a Congolese scientist and head of a ministry department in charge of environmental protection; two young men, Nzé and Manou, Marcellin’s relatives; and for the first part of the trip, Prof. Lary Schaffer from SUNY Plattsburgh. Their goal is to find Mokélé-Mbembé, a pre ...more
Peter Holz
Interestingly my version of this book is called Congo Journey, but it appears to be the same book. It is a well written, thought provoking and, at times, hilarious account of Redmond and his colleague, Lary's travels through the Congo. En route they encounter sorcerers, pygmies, tsetse flies, drunk soldiers with large guns and more manioc than either of them ever want to eat again. The humour diminishes somewhat once Lary decides he has had enough and returns home, but it remains a fascinating a ...more
Ensiform
The author travels to the Congo, down tributaries of the Ubangi, to Lake Télé in search of Mokélé-Mbebé, possibly a living sauropod atavism. Accompanied by pragmatic, homesick Lary, an American; educated Marcellin, a government employee, torn between his Western education and the supernatural spirit world of Africa whose power he fears; gentle Manou; and wild-eyed, hard-drinking Nzé, he chronicles all he sees. This allows for observations of much flora and fauna, especially birds and apes, as we ...more
Kay
This book begins with O'Hanlon's trademark self-deprecatory wry comments as he and his traveling companion, Larry, prepare to travel to the Congo in search of a mythical dinosaur-like beast, the Mokele-mbembe. Gradually, as the author goes deeper into the Congo, the book describes a descent into an almost hallucinatory, nightmarish world of superstition, corruption, slavery, sexual depravity, murder, and disease. It is, in short, not the entertaining book that perhaps many armchair travelers mig ...more
Roger
It's a rare writer who can pull off a detailed description of a river-journey through the Republic of Congo, ostensibly in search of a mythological dinosaurian atavism lost in a remote lake in deep swamp forest, without ploughing unfortunate territory that bad writers and breathless expats have been mired in since Conrad. O'Hanlon, however, does a great job. This is funny, terrifying, tender, and self-deprecating in equal measure, and does a capital job of holding up a variety of belief systems ...more
Cathy
Enjoyed this book about a team that struggles to get into the heart of the Congo with hopes of finding an ancient dinosaur-like creature believed to exist there. Lots of crazy characters, mishaps, bugs, and culture clashes. Sometimes it seemed like this went a bit off in odd directions, like describing all the malaria hallucination dreams a little detailed for my taste. It's also a very condensed story, not a quick or easy read. A great taste of what traveling there must be like though, and I re ...more
Renée Damstra
Het duurde dit keer lange tijd voordat ik zodanig in het boek kwam dat ik niet telkens afgeleid raakte door mijn medebus en treinpassagiers, verhuisperikel gedachtes en rinkelende telefoons, vandaar dat ik m houdt op 3 sterren. Deels was het omdat ik het format onderhand wel kende: redmond gaat op reis en neemt mee: een stel grappige idioten als gidsen en een medereiziger als nuchtere factor. Ik had dat wel gezien onderhand, maar aan de andere kant juist ook behoefte aan meer humor en meer idiot ...more
John
Folks raved about how funny this author can be, but I guess I don't "get" his sense of humor. The first 2/3 is the story of his travels with an American colleague; the author himself more in the role of narrator. Said colleague has returned home by the final section, leaving an anti-climax featuring O'Hanlon's ramblings and the natives' squabbling. I might read another by him, but not soon, and would recommend not starting with this book as I did.
Gennadyi
Jun 23, 2008 Gennadyi rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travelers, nature lovers, anthropology buffs
yet another twisted trip from Redmond O'Hanlon. This time he's off to the heart of the congo to search for what might be a still living dinosaur. his adventures include nearly getting killed by angry tribesmen, getting a fetish from a sorcerer, getting sky high and meeting a forest spirit, elephant poachers, a flotilla attached to a river steam boat, the idiocy of joined bureaucracy, communism, and tribalism
Eva Manayon
Unique! I finished reading it while I was on a ferry on the way to my hometown. It’s a great story I must say, although some of the chapters seems dragging to me and I had to re-read it so I would understand where the author is coming from, I know that it’s only because the author put too much of his emotion on it, which is effective because I felt like I was with him all throughout his journey.
I admired him when he took care of the gorilla. Not everyone has the heart towards animals and nature
...more
Scott Munden
Redmond O’Hanlon is a travel writer and humourist in the tradition of the quirky Englishman abroad. “No Mercy: A Journey Into the Heart of the Congo” is a humourous book although not the sort of gut-bustingly funny that so many people seek out these days. O’Hanlon is too sophisticated a writer to be running around jungles “busting guts” and our culture seems to have lost an appreciation for subtle, ironic observation.

“No Mercy” is also an oddly moving book that touches on themes that few travel
...more
Booknblues
No Mercy, A Journey Into the Heart of the Congo by Redmond OHanlon is a modern day journey into the heart of darkness. O'Hanlon travels with a college friend and professor at SUNY Plattsburg, Lary Shaffer and scientist naturalist from the Peoples Republic of the Congo, Marcellin Agnagna up the Congo River and into the deep jungle.

O'Hanlon is a naturalist who wrote his doctoral thesis on the changing concepts of nature in English literature and published Joseph Conrad and Charles Darwin: The Infl
...more
Victor
I read the 2007 edition (Penguin), entitled "Congo Journey". A 90's travelogue of a journey up the Congo river (border between then-Zaire and People's Republic of Congo, today Republic of the Congo. Reads more like a series of interconnected short stories, centred around a British and an American scientists' search for a Loch Ness-type ancient animal in Lake Tele, which is surrounded by rain forest. Written in a lively, as-if-one-were-there style, entertaining depiction of every-day life in the ...more
Alexandra
I sort of fell in love with Redmond O'Hanlon reading this book. His description of trying to save (and thus smuggle out) a baby, orphaned gorilla is both funny and incredibly touching. O'Hanlon is a bit hapless in the adventurer sense (which I think makes it more delightful to read and inspiring for those of us who are not world-class adventurers), and though it's been half a decade since I read this book, I do remember laughing hard enough to fall out of my chair several times, which few writer ...more
Jonathan Anderson
Certainly an interesting book, but a really repetitive one at the same time. I found myself unable to immerse myself and constantly thinking "I would've given up then, and if not then certainly at this point, and if not..."
Philip
Good story, but not quite as enjoyable as "Into the Heart of Borneo," written some dozen years earlier. But still highly enjoyable armchair travelogue, focusing on O'Hanlon's search for the mythical (or is it?) mokele-mbembe. Plus, I got my copy autographed by Jane Goodall! (Not that she's mentioned in the book; I just didn't have any of her own books for her to sign when I saw her speak in Taiwan, and this was the closest thing I had which dealt with the Congo and great apes; and yes, she had n ...more
Kaethe
The Spouse and I both read this. And enjoyed it. I love a good adventure and O'Hanlon is a great writer of same.
Natalie
This is different than the other first hand travel books, and living in different countries while not being the native people, that i've read lately. It had no politics, or judgements. They bumbled their way through the Congo, possibly irresponsibly, and without enough caution. Or most likely, given where they went it was as good as it got their way. It did get a little tiresome somewhere in the middle in that respect. But throughout it gave detailed biological descriptions of the area, plants, ...more
Richard Novak
Not quite as good as the other books he has written but still damned good.
Simon Fenton
Toure de force of African adventure travel writing.
Katy Snoodyk
Dec 08, 2008 Katy Snoodyk rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adam
Recommended to Katy by: No one
A very interesting read about people, their customs, the nature of people in biazzar circumstances. It also contains wonderful tit-bits about the Congolese animals, birds and insects ... did you know that the crocodile has a brain furthermore, it has the capacity to learn not just adapt to its environment? The book is very well written and one never gets a sense of boredom...its a real page turner in my opinion. It is both facual and witty. Well worth it although once again, maybe not a good boo ...more
Matt Brant
It took O'Hanlon six years to write this dark chronicle of a 1989 expedition in the Congo. Nearly gone is the humor of his books about Borneo and the Amazon yet I still laughed out loud at the sometimes brutal humor. After the travelers disembark from miserable Brazzaville, the hardships get worse and worse. This narrative goes way beyond the usual travel book in that O'Hanlon makes us think about the stressed, oppressed and monotonous lives of the local subsistence farmers.
Henry
Here's is another epic trek into the heartland of Africa, from a jaundiced point of view. If you had misadventures like the author's in Amazonas, you would be skeptical too. Especially when your hired help does nothing, your cook doesn't cook, and your staff insists you pay for a hooker in every village to "solace" them on the arduous voyage.
Add in a crazy chase after a lake monster, and you have a pickle barrel of chuckles.
-ed- Erwin
This is also a well written adventure story, but it's clear the heartbreak of modern Africa affected him deeply. The value of O'Hanlon's work is the connection between historical works of natural history and his present day experience. He really isn't a humorist, but the natural history editor for the London Times, with a well developed and absurd sense of humor. But not this one: it reflects a more somber, sober continent.
Mike
This site needs a bookshelf called "Partially Read." That's where I'd put this one. O'Hanlon is a gonzo journalist who throws himself into sketchy situations, like, in this case, trekking through the Congo. The Congo seems like a crazy and fascinating place, but I couldn't deal with O'Hanlon's writing. It's kind of a mess. If anyone knows of a good book about the Congo, let me know.
louisa
Almost a five, assigned in my Central African History class, No Mercy reveals both the system and structure in place in a seemingly chaotic country and the way in which science and logic are as much of a belief structure and totem as religion. An amusing, rousing, and ridiculous travelogue about a hapless scientist in search of the mythical dinosaur of Lake Tele.
Suzanne
This was such an incredible adventure!! I think I would really like to meet this guy. I felt I really learned about the people, politics and danger of the Congo. Definitely some areas of the book you have to skim over-when he goes on the naturalist tangents. Redmond is fearless, not wimpy and whiney like Bill Bryson books.
Susan
Cannot finish, there is no great adventure in this book. A lot of interesting facts (and some not so interesting). Too many flashbacks on childhood dreams, subjects which have no relevance, the author's companion was irritating, and the book way too long. Saved from one star by the subject matter, the Congo.
Julia
Certainly different from Paul Theroux. It is interesting, honest, thought provoking and humorous. However I found it hard to get into the rythmn of the book, which at times can be quite discordant.
Paul Theroux is perhaps more thorough with an angle on history whereas Redmond's account is more personal.
Kyria
Although this book was about a great adventure, it was somehow still boring. I kept waiting for something to happen and it never dud. I couldn't wait to finish this book so I could start something else.

On a good note, there are a lot of interesting facts in this book. I did enjoy that part of it.
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Redmond O'Hanlon is a British author, born in 1947. Mr. O'Hanlon has become known for his journeys into some of the most remote jungles of the world, in Borneo, the Amazon basin and Congo. He has also written a harrowing account of a trip to the North Atlantic on a trawler.
More about Redmond O'Hanlon...
Into the Heart of Borneo In Trouble Again: A Journey Between the Orinoco and the Amazon Trawler: A Journey Through the North Atlantic Borneo and the poet (Pocket Penguin 70s #29) A River in Borneo

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