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The Cobra's Heart (Penguin Great Journeys #20)

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  79 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
One of the most brilliant journalists of the postwar world, Kapuscinski (born 1932) spent decades criss-crossing Africa, witnessing the horrors of a continent ravaged by imperialism and its aftershocks. Humane, evocative and magical, The Cobra's Heart makes the case for Kapuscinski as a great writer as well as a great journalist.
Paperback, 112 pages
Published 2007 by Penguin UK
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The Cobra's Heart by Ryszard KapuścińskiAcross the Empty Quarter by Wilfred ThesigerSnakes with Wings and Gold-digging Ants by HerodotusFrom The Meadows of Gold by Al-MasudiThe Customs of the Kingdoms of India by Marco Polo
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1st out of 20 books — 3 voters
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24th out of 87 books — 19 voters

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This book in the Penguin Great Journeys series is an excerpt (or excerpts) from Kapuscinski's The Shadow of the Sun. It reads more like a number of separate essays rather than a cohesive narrative, but that is likely a result of the excerpt selection.

I was impressed with the writing which I found articulate and insightful - which credits the translation from Polish to English as well as the original writing.

Covering events in the 1950s and 60s in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria, it covers a
Dec 05, 2007 Dylan rated it really liked it
Made me want to have the balls to explore Africa.
May 22, 2013 Nirmal rated it really liked it
This is the extract of the full book under Penguin's Great Journeys series.

Kapuscinski has described his experiences in Africa and his experiences are authentic and his information about the place and people is very insightful , something which has come by actually going in various inhospitable african terrains and facing extremely harsh conditions. It covers Ghana, Tanjania, Nigeria, Uganda.

It covers the events of late 50's and 60's when many african nations were getting independence from the
Dec 25, 2014 Kalika rated it it was amazing
A short extract from The shadow of the sun, it reminded me again how absolutely wonderful Kapuściński's writing is. How he can make everything come alive and put you right in there so that you feel the oppressive heat of the Saharan towns and shiver in the eerie darkness of the African nights.
He is one of my favourite ("The favourite", perhaps) non-fiction writer. And I promise myself that I will reread some of his books in the new year.
May 18, 2013 Ape rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, travel
Bookcrossing review:

I really enjoyed this book, so it was quite frustrating that it is so short. I've added the book that these extracts are from to my wishlist to remind me to keep my eyes open for the full book.

This one is by a Polish writer, and is about some of his experiences in central Africa - mainly Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania during the 60s. This was a time when a lot of these countries were getting their independance, so there's quite a bit about that. Amin comes up in his own chapter
Sep 03, 2008 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, travel
Loved this book. It is a little disjointed, due to the author writing for newspapers in his native Poland, but is provides a fascinating insight into the culture and experiences of African Nations going through the liberating, and for many ultimately failed, process of freedom from the colonial yoke in the 1960's. Its interesting to compare your own views and attitudes (ignorant though mine are) of these countries to that of the author, and the time he lived in. Great for those who like adventur ...more
Feb 25, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it
This book is so descriptive, almost paints a picture as you read. I did find the stories/essays seemed unrelated but enjoyed it, despite finding it quite disturbing. I have read little about Africa before and the book was definitely an eye opener. As a Brit I particularly found the essay on Uganda interesting as I remember many Ugandans arriving in the UK at that time. I was a child then and had no idea of what they had endured having to leave the homes, work and loved ones.
Feb 20, 2011 Mikaela rated it really liked it
The Third World is Kapusciniski's personal "beat". No one writes more effectively of the brutal contingencies, the hilarious and terrifying randomness of events, of the blithe, cruel anarchy of African countries in chaos. But at the same time no one conveys better that seductive allure of the fauna and flora of the continent, the captivating, tenacious fascination for the place that is always present despite the irritation and dismay.
Aug 16, 2010 Don rated it liked it
Small book of essays on Africa from the vantage point of a much-travelled European (Polish) writer. Can't say I encountered any challenging new insights into the 'African' - but a please to read small, well-crafted little pieces. The title essay, The Cobra's Hearet particularly exiciting....
Fiona Lane
May 14, 2012 Fiona Lane rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-beyond-me
This book gives a few insights in to Africa and the journey to independence. The writing was cleverly engaging considering the number of scenes of Africa covered in the small number of pages. I loved the vivid nature of his accounts.
Aug 29, 2007 Scott rated it really liked it
more dark madness from the heart of africa - hard to believe he lived through all this.
I'd still recommend "Travels with Heroditus" unless you're really interested in Africa particularly. Much more entertaining.
Mar 06, 2010 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: reportage
It's just couple of chapters taken from Polish edition of "Ebony". Full edition of Ebony is recommended.
Feb 03, 2016 Emilie rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, travel-lit
Fantastic so far, really rekindling my desire to travel Africa!
Mar 21, 2008 Jo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Christina
An amazing writer. I loved this.
Aug 27, 2015 Megan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I wish I could give more than 5 stars
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Ryszard Kapuściński debuted as a poet in Dziś i jutro at the age of 17 and has been a journalist, writer, and publicist. In 1964 he was appointed to the Polish Press Agency and began traveling around the developing world and reporting on wars, coups and revolutions in Asia, the Americas, and Europe; he lived through twenty-seven revolutions and coups, was jailed forty times, and survived four deat ...more
More about Ryszard Kapuściński...

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“The continent is too large to describe. It is a veritable ocean, a separate planet, a varied, immensely rich cosmos. Only with the greatest simplification, for the sake of convenience, can we say 'Africa'. In reality, except as a geographical appellation, Africa does not exist.” 20 likes
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