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Congo Journey

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,231 Ratings  ·  72 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.
Published June 5th 1997 by Penguin (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 27, 2011 Juha rated it really liked it  ·  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
Mar 25, 2016 Florence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Redmond O'Hanlon takes adventure travel to an extreme level. Traveling deep into the People's Republic of the Congo by dugout canoe and by foot, he encounters giant cockroaches, flesh-eating ants, and decidedly unfriendly tribesmen. At times he and his American companion feared they would not survive to tell anyone about their adventure. Lives of the African bushmen are profoundly influenced by their belief in the spirit world. In one memorable scene, the author's guide, a representative of the ...more
Peter Holz
Jul 21, 2014 Peter Holz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 23, 2011 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 10, 2008 Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 19, 2012 Roger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 14, 2009 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
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
Jul 15, 2014 Renée rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 19, 2007 John rated it liked it
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.
Jun 23, 2008 Gennadyi rated it really liked it  ·  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
Aug 05, 2014 Eva Manayon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary Licking
The detail included for each setting in the Congo the author encounters is both the strength and a weakness. Provides a great look at '90s condition of the country and what the author sees from his viewpoint as a naturalist (ornithologist), but is a bit of a slog to take it all in. The author's book, Trawler, and the one on Borneo I have read prior, and this one I liked best. On these journeys the author brings along a fellow traveler for comic purposes. Lary, a North American professor, fit the ...more
Scott Munden
Jun 05, 2015 Scott Munden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 19, 2016 Booknblues rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 10, 2010 Victor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 12, 2011 Alexandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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..."
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
Mar 07, 2016 MJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow is all I can say. I'm an armchair traveler and after reading this book, I plan to stay that way. :) Daring and brave is Redmond O.
Jul 08, 2014 Kaethe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, nonfiction
The Spouse and I both read this. And enjoyed it. I love a good adventure and O'Hanlon is a great writer of same.
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.
Mar 16, 2016 Barry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written with heart, humor, and horror. My favorite travel story.
Simon Fenton
Toure de force of African adventure travel writing.
Katy Snoodyk
Dec 08, 2008 Katy Snoodyk rated it liked it  ·  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
Mark Bower
Jan 18, 2016 Mark Bower rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Also brilliant. Can't get enough!
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.
Jan 29, 2012 Henry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 02, 2008 -ed- Erwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
April Sanders
Apr 24, 2016 April Sanders rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read most of this author's work. He is, with respect to physical fitness, demeanor and personality, the most unlikely adventurer. O'Hanlon is the anthesis of the great (and egotistical) explorers he reveres from times gone by, yet he is brave, curious, intelligent and funny.( He reminds me of Balu from Kipling's Jungle Book.) I love his writing. This book is an excellent investment of time.
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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...

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