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Bill Bryson's African Diary

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  4,572 ratings  ·  300 reviews
In the early fall of 2002, famed travel Writer Bill Bryson journeyed to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, the charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty around the world. He arrived with a set of mental images of Africa gleaned from television broadcasts of low-budget Jungle Jim movies in his Iowa childhood and a single viewing of ...more
Hardcover, 55 pages
Published December 3rd 2002 by Broadway Books (first published 2002)
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Shakespeare by Anthony BurgessArthur's Britain by Leslie AlcockMrs. Dalloway by Virginia WoolfBill Bryson's African Diary by Bill BrysonThe Four Seasons of Mary Azarian by Lilias Macbean Hart
Common Reader Catalog Part II
4th out of 91 books — 3 voters
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I feel like an asshole for not giving this more stars. I am an enormous Bill Bryson fan -- I've read everything else he has published (with the exception of "Shakespeare: The World as Stage" which I'm starting tonight). Unfortunately, this sort of wasn't a Bill Bryson book. It was a Bill Bryson... journal entry. It was only 49 pages, and because it was done for charity, it was overly sincere. It almost completely lacked Bryson's signature humor. He normally has such a colorful way of describing ...more
CARE, an international aid agency headquartered in the UK, asked Bill Bryson to visit their Kenyan operation and write about it. Somewhere along the lines the idea changed to include publishing a "book" and using all profits as a donation to charity, with a small amount of the $12 cover price used for printing and distribution costs. Most of the participants were volunteering their time.

Sounds like a great idea, right? Except, the book itself is disappointing. It's more a novelette. It's 40 page
First of all, this is not a book. It's a diary. Bryson recounts his 8 days in Kenya with members of CARE International. And that's 7 days longer than I'd want to be there. What a dreadful place! Poverty, crime, hunger, lack of sanitation, no clean water, disease, corrupt government and a hostile climate.
Some of the other reviewers on Goodreads fault Bryson for not covering enough ground, but I disagree. You don't need to read 300 pages to see the terrible conditions in which these people live E
This should really be Bill Bryson's Kenyan Diary, since that's the only country he visits. I had been looking for this book for a while, but I didn't realize that it was a slim charity volume, with all proceeds going to CARE. As such, it does its job, presenting the excellent work of CARE and other organizations in Kenya, with a dash of Bryson's signature wit. It did its job, showing the country's poverty but also its beauty, and the tireless work of those who are investing in the country throug ...more
Madhulika Liddle
There are a handful of writers whose books I will buy without hesitation, secure in the knowledge that my money will be well-spent. Bill Bryson is one of these: each of his books is a joy to read, chock full of painstakingly researched material, presented in the author's inimitably chatty, humorous and irresistible style. I've read all his travel books (and some of his non-travel related books), so when I finally came across African Diary - which I'd heard about, never seen in a bookshop - I pou ...more
Unlike most people, I guess, I had no idea that this book was little more than a 49-page pamphlet for CARE, a group doing international aid work, including work with refugees and the poor in Kenya (the focus of this book/pamphlet). I placed the thing on hold sight unseen with my library, and only when I stopped by to check it out did I find a volume rather slimmer than I had expected.

Well, I'm a big Bill Bryson fan, so I hoped that it would at least be just under 50 pages of typical Bryson fun.
This is a pretty short travelogue (a week's diary) written as part of an initiative from CARE to bring in visibility and focus to the enormous challenges being faced in Africa, and the stellar work that CARE and similar organisations are doing. Kudos to the thought behind this initiative, inventive and world-wise enough to know the innovative channels to tap to bring in the much-needed publicity. I'm not going to be patting the backs of Bryson and the publishers too much, because no-profit doesn ...more
This was such a zippy little read; I think I finished in one insomniac rolling-about. My first Bryson was At Home, which I found to be plodding, then I read In a Sunburned Country (just a little bit ago) and saw his wit, and here I am, with another library-electronic-read. It is aptly titled, though, perhaps it shouldn't be called "African" diary, as it's all about Kenya, and all about a sponsored trip to Kenya, meaning to be a public service kind of ad. But it seemed more was devoted to being p ...more
I read some disappointing reviews of this book less than five minutes ago -- when I was entering this title into my "Read" shelf -- but I'll stick to the five stars I had in mind when I finished it.

Firstly, I agree with comments that the title "African Diary" is misleading -- Bryson went to Kenya for a week, that's all. One country is NOT a whole continent. That said, it was an entertaining AND educational read nevertheless, however short it is. No this book does not suffer from a lack of Bryson
David Bales
Bill Bryson went to Kenya to write about Somali refugees in the remote south of the country. Along the way he strolls through Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, (in Nairobi) visits some old white colonials and goes on safari. His usual good writing, but I read this book, literally, in a half hour. I wish he could REALLY go to Africa and write a REAL book. He did this one to benefit CARE, the relief agency. It has about 60 pages.
Rob Charpentier
Unfortunately, I must confess that I’m not that fond of this particular book. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with it, other than in my opinion being way too short that it becomes criminal to my sensibilities as to what this book could have been. For, I definitely think that the subject of a visit to Africa is worthy of far greater exploration and depth by this author and this is in essence really nothing more than magazine length article. Consequently, I can’t rate this book too hi ...more
Graham Mulligan
Bill Bryson’s African Diary
Bill Bryson, 2002.

This is a short book but I thought I’d review it because it was sponsored by CARE, the international charity. Bryson visited Kenya for a brief 8-day tour, sponsored by CARE, so he could add some celebrity status to their work and give them a nice little book. His journey included very brief visits to locations where the charity is doing some badly needed work. In Nairobi, the massive slum of Kibera is featured, with some photos and a very brief mentio
Bill Bryson wrote this short diary for CARE International, and all proceeds are donated. Although Bill sprinkles a bit of humor in the story, the obvious message is that there are many areas in Africa that need help. Many years ago, Africa was in the news often. Since then, very little is reported, but the problem still remains. It is important to remember that, as Bill writes, "people really, really don't want dependency. They want to help themselves." For this reason, relief organizations are ...more
Andres Eguiguren
At 49 pages, this is more of a lengthy magazine article than a book. It was done for charity (CARE), yet most reviews tend to grumble about the brevity of the enterprise. It's not bad, but it really should have been titled Bill Bryson's Kenya Diary, as it briefly chronicles his eight-day visit to that East African country. It's a shame that Bryson, CARE or the publisher didn't see fit to put Kenya in the title given that it is one of 55 countries in the continent. Frankly, if I picked up a book ...more
Amanda R
I bought this little book in a shop on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle sometime in about 2003. Just about the only thing in my life that has not changed between then and now is my love for Bill Bryson's writing. This is not much more than a magazine article in book form, but it's informative and amusing and features gorgeous photography by Jenny Matthews. And the proceeds go to an extremely good cause, which is always excellent. I very much liked my re-read, which took all of 30 minutes but was an en ...more
not a full-blown book. had I seen a hard copy i would have realized, but i downloaded an eBook from the library, was shocked that it was only 75 pages, and then was further shocked when the last 30 pages was a preview from one of his other books. I mean, this was a perfect nice series of diary entries about his week-long trip to Africa to visit CARE sites, and i'm sure that it was a lovely fundraising idea for CARE. but since I had no clue about that before starting to read it, it was all a bit ...more
Adam Tuttle
While unbelievably short -- easily finished in a single sitting -- this book reminds me of the reason I got into Bryson in the first place: His travelogues are immeasurably interesting and charming. After reading both One Summer: America, 1927, and At Home: A Short History of Private Life, it's good to get back to what I consider the Real Bryson.

It also doesn't hurt that all profits, including what would be Bryson's royalties, are donated to CARE (which rates reasonably well on CharityNavigator,
This thin volume is really a PR campaign for CARE, not that there's anything wrong with that. Bryson also brings his signature humor into certain places in the book, not that there's anything wrong with that, either. It's tough to critique a book that supports a worthy organization like CARE, but I do feel like this book wasn't terribly successful either in highlighting CARE's work and task in Africa, or as a humorous Bryson travelogue.

When Bryson was leading his readers around Kenya, showing us
Lisa Cole
Bryson maintains his wit in this very short volume he wrote in support of CARE International--an organization dedicated to educating the world about world poverty. Bryson not only tells us about a few ways in which CARE has benefited Nairobi Kenya and other African regions, he also displays an interest in archeology--supposedly, there are many fascinating archeological sites in Kenya--its treasures not found anywhere else. One of the elements I appreciated about this book was that Bryson did not ...more
Glenn Cheney
Mar 22, 2010 Glenn Cheney rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: to anyone who would like to donate $12 to CARE and has nothing else to do for 20 minutes or so.
I'm sorry to say Bryson didn't put much effort into this book. It had so much potential and so much of importance that could be said. His brief descriptions of Kenyan poverty, a refugee camp and a Nairobi slum don't do justice to the situations and all they mean. He slips in some of his trademark funnies based on fears of this and that, but there's something oddly insulting, or even offensive, about devoting more words to a ride in a small plane than to a refugee camp of 136,000 people in the mi ...more
"Kenya has become a country of ten millionaires and ten million beggars." ~Kenyan politican J.M. Kariuki, assassinated in 1975

This book is only 49 pages which suited me just fine, considering how long it took me to read my last book. I picked this book not only because it is short but also because it is written by Bill Bryson. I have read most of his books and plan to read all of them eventually; however, none of them hold a candle to A Walk in the Woods, the first Bryson book I read.

The book
Monthly Book Group
Bill Bryson’s “African Diary” was published by in 2002.

It really is, just a diary. Bill describes what happened to him over an eight-day visit to Kenya, sponsored by the charity CARE international. It isn’t an analysis, it isn’t especially thoughtful, it’s merely a diary written up with entertaining and generally cheerful comments. It’s only about 11 thousand words on 56 pages. Please don’t think we are shirkers this month; the proposer of the book has added this book to the month’s reading beca
I liked this book, but since it was about such a short trip it lacked the quality that usually makes Bill Bryson's books so good and interesting--the well-researched interesting bits of history and anecdotes that he usually includes.

This book was written as a benefit for CARE International and chronicles Bryson's week long trip to Kenya to visit some of CARE's facilities. All of the profits (including Bryson's royalties) from the sale of the book go to CARE, so if you like Bryson's writing you s
Debbie Evancic
Bill Bryson, a great travel writer, went to Africa and wrote about things he saw there so he could donate the proceeds of this book to CARE. That in itself would make the purchase of the book worthwhile. However, because it was Bill writing the book, it was both enlightening and entertaining to read. Bill wrote about Kibera, the biggest slum in Nairobi where at least 50,000 children have AIDS, where the average shanty is 10 feet by 10 feet and houses 5-6 people with no running water, no rubbish ...more
michellé .c
Content-wise I am satisfied. Bill was humorous at the right places to lift the occasionally-solemn tone of the book. I also liked how he shows me how my image of Kenya is so off tangent like "Nairobi is merely yet another modern city with traffic lights and big buildings and hoardings advertising Samsung televisions and the like. Our hotel is a Holiday Inn - very nice and comfortable, but hardly a place that shouts: 'Welcome to Africa, Bwana.'". Yet at the same time, he showed me how Africa can ...more
I love Bill Bryson. I would like to meet him for breakfast at a dinner or working man's cafe and just sit and listen to his ramblings on life. I am sure I would choke on my tea with laughter. There is no one whose writing can make me laugh so hard as Mr. Bryson, and yet without being a sap, or making me feel like I am being manipulated, he can turn on the pathos and touch your heart, which he does so beautifully in this book.

It's short - about 50 pages - and narrates the trip he took, over 8 da
I'm torn on this one, which I almost rated a 4. The book is only 49 pages, written to support CARE International. The author and publishers donated their time and proceeds to support the organization. Bryson toured Kenya with CARE employees and wrote about his experiences.

Bryson's typical humor is still present but subdued in comparison to his best work. For one thing, he admires and cares for his companions. Additionally, he is more respectful of the struggles of the natives. Only Bryson himse
Only 50 pages long, but Bryson can make anything wonderful to read. This diary details his travel to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International. The reality of the conditions there in comparison to his preconceived idea of Africa (from watching too many Jungle Jim movies when he was a kid) was a true eye opener for him. He is such a superb writer and his wit always makes his writings so enjoyable.
Being intimately familiar with both Bill Bryson's flavorful, if quirky, travel writing and Africa, I was really looking forward to this read. Although Bryson includes his usual wit and knack for laugh-out-loud observation, I do have to admit at being slightly disappointed at the brevity of this 49 page documentation and the lackluster tone which accompanies it. Written as a fund-raising effort for CARE INTERNATIONAL (at whose invitation his visit to Kenya was based) I still expected more from th ...more

The phrase short and sweet popped into my mind about this 49 page little book about Bill Bryson’s 8 days in Kenya. It is actually a bitter sweet account about the work of the charity organization CARE one of the worlds leading international organizations fighting against poverty. They believe that by working to find the source of a communities problems and solving it they can help make the world a safer and more stable place for us all.
Unfortunately the bo
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Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer. He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire. He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.

In The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson's hilarious first t
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“Of course, you’ll have to fly to the refugee camp at Dadaab,” Will observed thoughtfully at one point. He glanced at me. “To avoid the bandits,” he explained.
Dan and Nick nodded gravely.
“I beg your pardon?” I said, taking a sudden interest.
“It’s bandit country all round there,” Will said.
“Where?” I asked, peering at the map for the first time.
“Oh, just there,” Will said, waving a hand vaguely across most of east Africa. “But you’ll be fine in a plane.”
“They only rarely shoot at planes,” Nick explained.”
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