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

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  397 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
"A supremely entertaining work, and also an important one." -David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z

Upon hearing the news of tenuous peace in Sudan, foreign correspondent Dan Morrison bought a plank-board boat, summoned a friend who'd never left America, and set out from Uganda, paddling the Nile on a quest to reach Cairo-a trip that tyranny and war had made impossibl
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 26th 2011 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Jan 27, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know the effort it must have taken for a struggling freelance journalist to set out from Uganda and traverse the Nile all the way up to Cairo to - as he says himself - prove something. He worked really hard, I know. But then again, as the grandfather says in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, so do washing machines.

I wanted rich descriptions of the landscapes, sights and sounds of Uganda, Sudan and Egypt, peppered with some politics and musings on the character of the locals, their lives,
I really wanted to give this book a good review as I received a pre-release free copy by means of the Book Giveaway here at Goodreads. I've never had an 'unedited' copy of a book, so naturally I started out carrying this thing around like the Holy Grail.

I'm afraid I simple can't give this a good review. I'm curious as to who came up with the tagline "One Man's Amazing Journey Through Peace and War...". It's extremely misleading. That's not what the book was about. Then again, I'm not exactly su
I received this book as an ARC. It has taken me much longer to review it than I planned, mainly because I simply could not get interested.

Mostly, I found the book irritating. What could have been a really descriptive account of an exciting adventure was, in actual fact, a list of complaints about poor sanitation, poor people, a ravaged environment (caused, according to the author, almost entirely by the "bad" westerners), lack of a boat, lack of transport, lack of sanitation, etc.

My main questio
Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone.
This is my first book. I have no choice but to give it five stars. Others may wish to give it four. Or six.
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Armchair adventurers
Recommended to Susan by: Goodreads First-Reads
4 1/2 stars. A journalist in need of a story decided to travel the Nile from Lake Victoria to the sea, covering Uganda, Sudan and Egypt, traveling as much by local means as possible. He sets out with an old friend by paddling a leaky boat despite almost no experience on the water. Although he has planned the trip, he seems remarkably both over-equipped and under-prepared, with a very outdated and inaccurate map.

His friend, Schon, seems like a very unlikely person to take on this journey, and his
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways, africa, egypt, sudan
Received ARC through the Goodreads First Reads program.

The Black Nile is a chronicle of Dan Morrison's journey down the Nile. Different people will have different expectations from the book based on that description. The experience I got from reading Morrison's book was not quite what I was expecting. I certainly expected the river itself to be more of a presence. Although the journey begins in a boat, much of the narrative is off the water.

From the jacket copy and the first chapter or so, I exp
Jul 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This book quickly draws the reader in. From the time Dan Morrison and his friend Schon arrive in Africa, the reader never quite knows what to expect. The trip described in the book was much more grueling than I would have ever expected and in terms of the traveler's hardships reads more like the seventeenth century than the twenty-first century. There are elements that tell you that the travelers are modern though - the automatic weapons for one.

Schon was one of my favorite characters in the boo
Patrick O'Neil
Jul 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
The subtitle to Dan Morrison's The Black Nile states: one man's amazing journey through peace and war on the world's longest river – and although I'm only too sure this was thought up by his editor or the publisher – it's sort of a misnomer as it simplifies Morrison's intent, and perspective readers might not expect what he ultimately delivers. I didn't find Morrison's journey amazing. I found it to be convoluted, complex and ultimately captivating, much like the subject matter: the politics, th ...more
The book served its purpose in filling time on a trip where I knew I'd need something for several bus and train rides; however, I can't say I'd enthusiastically recommend it. Morrison gives information in a journalistic, somewhat detached style, so that I never really felt I knew him; he is married (clearly not separated), but his wife gets only an occasional passing reference. What we do get is mostly "I went here and met with so-and-so, who told me such-and-such." There are hints of trouble fo ...more
Whitney Baker
Aug 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Coming from a horticultural / naturalist background, and from the position of a man given to more personal reflection than necessary, I approached The Black Nile with a prejudice toward what I might find. Would there be a romantic environmental bent? Would Mr. Morrison be tacking back and forth between the real river and some internal complement? It is often the case for me that a book that does not find early traction or does not know what it is will lose me, after I have attempted unsuccessful ...more
Jul 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Received through Goodreads First Reads for free.

This book ended up somewhere different than I expected. When the story started, it reminded me of A Walk in the Woods meets Cork Boat--two of my favorite memoirs, so definitely a good thing. But eventually, the buddy leaves and the vibe changes.
Most people know a lot about the Nile of Egypt...the Nile of the Pharaohs, pyramids, and history. But the Nile begins deep in Africa, in Uganda, and heads through Sudan. These are areas we've all heard abou
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, first-reads
This is a very difficult review for me to write. I was disappointed in the The Black Nile. It was a struggle for me to get through the first three fourths of the book. I read and then could not remember what I read. The pace was very slow and there were things that might have been better edited out because they interrupted the flow of the book. Maybe this book was just not for me.
There were spots of humor and some interesting facts about the different cultures he encountered but not enough. Als
May 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-bagged
I really hate not finishing books; however, I simply could not continue with "The Black Nile" after three CD's ( a little over 100 pages). Morrison could have used a good editor to get him off the "I have to capture anything and everything in absolute minute and boring detail" method of recounting his expedition (I left him at the point where he and his American buddy, Schon, parted ways, boatless and still in Uganda). What I managed to take away from this book was a sense of the ingenuity with ...more
Aug 16, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When I saw the title of this book I couldn't wait to begin reading it. I expected excitement being on the river Nile, not boredom. It took everything I had to finish this book. If you would like to read some books with adventure I suggest The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journal by Candice Millard, or The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. I would even recommend No Reservations: Around the World On An Empty Stomach by Anothony Bourdain. All ...more
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed in the book; it was a real struggle to finish it. I was expecting more of a travel adventure and a little less on the conflicts in the various countries. His friend, Schon, was one of the more interesting characters in the book but he did not hang around long. While I was reading the book, I kept asking myself who is Dan Morrison? What is he like? Why is he doing this trip? What does his wife think about this adventure? I never felt like I got to know him. I wanted more emotio ...more
Patrick Gibson
Tracing the waters of the Nile from Uganda to Egypt, this is a journey not only across thousands of miles of Africa but also through a vast diversity of peoples and their rich and often troubled history. Weaving recent and historical events with the story of his own journey this offers a unique window onto a part of the world all too easily and often ignored.

Furthermore, he casts light onto the diverse forces at play behind the conflicts that occasionally make headlines in West newspapers. What
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, nonfiction, travel
I recently have developed an addiction to travel books and especially those about long journeys in remote or troubled areas of the world. Dan Morrison's tale The Black Nile of traveling up the Nile came into my radar and I knew it would be a must read for me.

After reading several other books about traveling through Africa, I was aware that the journey would have more roadblocks than the traveler could have anticipated and this was the case with Dan Morrison and his traveling companion and childh
Rob Maynard
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I try to read what look like interesting books about Africa and The Middle East when I can and it was a pleasant surprise to stumble across this "Librarian's Pick" at my East Marietta Library Branch. Morrison is a former beat reporter who has decided to specialize in the part of the world where Africa and Islam intersect. The premise of this book is that Morrison and an old college friend who drinks and smokes too much and tends bar in a country club will meet in Uganda and try to make it all th ...more
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you love going to your brother-in-laws house to see his home movies from his last family vacation, you may be a candidate to enjoy this book. If you're among the people who would rather clean your sock drawer than endure the family travelogue, then this book may not be for you.
Part of the problem I had was the publishers "hook" in the subtitle, e.g., "One Man's Amazing Journey Through Peace and War...". I'm sure that was intended to move the book off the bookshelves in the stores, but the bo
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to reserve this one as an audiobook hold at my local library, so by the time I was able to download it I had forgotten the part of the subtitle that includes mention of war, the at-that-point subsiding of which had allowed this trip to take place at all. Another reviewer expressed that the "...One Man's Amazing Journey..." phrase should probably be outlawed, but allowed in this case. That people will set out to make these journeys is a bit amazing, and Morrison's book is clearly a cut abov ...more
Feb 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: united-states
The Black Nile: One Man's Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World's Longest River is a true story, the story of people trying to live in a complex territory. A modern adventure, with a lot of details about The Nile's river and its inhabitans, part travelog, part history. Dan Morrison's modern adventure is a rich and educational adventure written in a vivid style.

Here's the link " The Group Talks with Dan Morrison " The Black Nile: One Man's
Mikey B.
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, travelogue
Mr. Morrison boats, walks and mostly takes assorted perilous bus rides that skirt the Nile. This book is like an introductory sketch of the countries the Nile passes through.

We are given history, geography and introduced to a few of the people who inhabit this region. Most of the people the author converses with are men as we would expect in this part of the world. Often their stories or version of events are contradicted by others encountered by the author later on. Such are the perplexities of
Aug 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Debbie
Recommended to Valerie by: Great African Reads
Shelves: africa, arewethereyet
Several things struck me about this book. Firstly, the author's companion made several telling comments about why things don't change in Africa. Highlighted by a scene from a cholera camp in which the simplest things that would stop the infection can't be done, because the big men are busy being big men. It also made me reflect on the wisdom in several recent books on aid (Half the Sky) of giving the money to women, under their control, and the fact that almost all of it will then go to protect ...more
Andrew Ayers
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not knowing much about this book, I thought it would be an adventure-filled tale of travelling by boat down the Nile filled with crocodiles and rapids. I didn't realize that the boat journeying part of the book would be minimal and that there would be a lot of political and cultural analysis of the complicated histories between Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt. So, it was not what I expected, but I was pleased to know more about the complicated relationships between these nations, and also the internal ...more
Aug 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought that The Black Nile was an interesting take on a region that does not seem to get much coverage anymore. I have read a number of books about life in East Africa, but most were written by people native to the area. I found it interesting to learn more about the region from an outside perspective. I also really liked the background that went with each area that Mr. Morrison visited and feel like I learned a lot about the region that I hadn't known before.

I think that if someone is looki
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't pay much attention to the subtitle, or even the book description. This is about Morrison's travels through Uganda, Sudan and Egypt...sometimes by boat, but more often in a land vehicle. It's a fascinating glimpse into what it's like to travel through a region that has been devastated by environental issues, war, and political intrigue. It is not a history of the region, nor is it a traditional travelogue. Go into it with an open mind and you might just find yourself amazed (by Morrison's n ...more
Jul 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall I enjoyed this book, but I was expecting it to be better than it was based on the description on the book jacket of both the book and its author. I was hoping to learn about Africa and the people of Africa. Instead, this book pretty much just stated everything I have already heard about the continent and the people there. I also didn't care for the writer's style, or maybe it was the editing. The second half of the book was better than the first half, almost as if two different people wr ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very thought-provoking story of Morrison's journey from Lake Victoria to Rosetta, on the Mediterranean Sea, passing through Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt. The main thing I learned is that I knew essentially nothing of these nations' history, culture, or geography. Also, sadly, though the name "Nile" evokes a sense of the romance of far-off places, crocodiles, Pharoahs, and Egyptian treasures, today's Nile is far more likely to mean tawdry river ports, poverty, disease-bearing insects, pollution, ga ...more
Diane Webber-thrush
I just started this book and I really can't put it down. I didn't want to stop reading when I got to work after my Metro commute. It's such a vivid lens Morrison is bringing to this part of the world that I know nothing about -- but the most unexpected part for me is the humor. I gather the ride gets rougher later, but I'm really all in for that ride after just a few pages.
I enjoyed reading about the author's attempt to travel down the Nile mostly through Sudan. The summary of Sudanese politics through the meeting of different tribe members is certainly a propos this summer as South Sudan declares independence. I enjoyed this both as an interesting travelogue and as a quick orientation to this part of the world.
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As a writer and correspondent I have barbequed with the Latin Kings street gang, shared tea and almonds with a sponsor of the Taliban, and chewed knotty stroganoff in the crumbling desert palace of a fading Maharaja. (``There is only one explanation for the rapid expansion of the British Empire,’’ he told me, pointing with a manicured finger to his dining room’s cracked and vaulted ceiling. ``Divi ...more
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“I've learned it's always easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.” 0 likes
“Ali had had four wives and sixteen children, not counting the six who died as youngsters. "I'm so sorry," I said, wincing at the magnitude of his loss.

"It was a long time ago," he said, puzzled by my concern. "Are you married?" he asked. "How long?"

Six years, no children, I told him, adding, "But that will probably change next year."

"How do you know?"


"How do you know it will change? It is on God's hands."

"Well, some practices will start and others will stop," I said.

He gasped. "It's wrong. You are killing the eggs, the sperm."

"You know," I said, "the female body ejects its eggs every month."

"Yes," he said, gripping the table's edge, "but the sperm! They must move freely. You mustn't hold them back. It's murder!”
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