Jan's Reviews > The Black Nile: One Man's Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World's Longest River

The Black Nile by Dan Morrison
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's review
Oct 01, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in September, 2011

For a story that is, in theory, about a trip down the Nile, this book is surprisingly dull. There is also shockingly little time actually spent on the Nile.

I soldiered on with this book because I kept thinking that I just wasn't trying hard enough with it, that it had to be more interesting that it seemed to me. But I was wrong. With page after page filled with tedious detail of how the author sat around in various towns and villages waiting for a ride somewhere, I'm not sure how either the author or the publisher thought that people would find this thrilling. I should have known it was a bust when, after waiting 3 weeks at their jump-off point for a canoe to be built, the author and his traveling companion spent only a handful of days on the Nile before having to give up the canoe because it wasn't suitable for the remainder of the river.

After that, very little of the rest of the book was spent on an actual boat on the Nile. I had no idea that it was so difficult to boat the Nile, and apparently the author didn't either, or maybe he wouldn't have chosen to write this particular book. It's more like "hitching rides to various towns near the Nile."

Also irritating is the author's travel companion and lifelong friend Schon, who thankfully could only spend about a month on the trip and is therefore only in about the first third of the book. Frankly, if I were Schon, I wouldn't be too thrilled with the way my friend portrayed me in written form, even if I actually behaved that way. Described as a raging alcoholic on more than one occasion in the pages, Schon has an unfortunate habit of waxing poetic on how the people of Africa are poverty-stricken because they're lazy and want to be that way. Very charming.

Don't get me wrong, there are a few things of interest in the pages of this tome, if you're willing to put in the effort. I learned about the political troubles of South Sudan, about the destruction of Nubian culture, and of the hideous things that big oil is doing in Sudan, amongst other things. But you have to work for this stuff, and I'm sure there are much better and more interesting books about Africa for you to glean such information from.
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