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Crazy River: Exploration and Folly in East Africa

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  655 ratings  ·  105 reviews
From the acclaimed author of Dispatches From Pluto and Deepest South of All comes a rollicking travelogue from East Africa.

NO ONE TRAVELS QUITE LIKE RICHARD GRANT and, really, no one should. In his last book, the adventure classic God’s Middle Finger, he narrowly escaped death in Mexico’s lawless Sierra Madre. Now, Grant has plunged with his trademark recklessness, wit, an
Paperback, 323 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Free Press
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Dec 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, africa
I enjoyed reading this book while I was travelling through Malawi - many of Grant's observations and insights about African culture and travel resonated with my experiences and with the stories I'd heard from other travellers, and I agreed with his views on aid.

I'm not a big fan of travel writing in general, though. Reading books like this usually makes me feel like I'm swapping tales with other travelers (which I do enjoy), except without being able to relate my own experience or get into deep
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel, fiction, africa
The author, feeling the same wanderlust as his idol Richard Burton, decides to go to Tanzania to run the length of the Malagarasi, Tanzania's second-longest river. Facing one obstacle after another, he finally gets a guide, but then his troubles really start, in the form of impassable groves and rapids, crocodiles, and poachers willing to shoot on sight. His river expedition comes to an end, but he treks on through Burundi, one of the poorest and most violent countries in the world, and onto Rwa ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suffers a bit from being unfocused. I'm not ruining anything to say the canoe trip Grant had planned didn't work out, so he wrote a book about 4 different locations which sort of ties together.
Having said that, it's a really excellent read; thoughtful, intelligent and well written. He tackles the past, present and future of central Africa and leaves you to draw your own conclusions.
Not my favourite of Grant's books, but that's only because the standard is so high
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
A Random Assortment of Insightful and Thrilling Escapades from the Heart of Africa

From the comfort of your living room chair, Richard Grant takes you on a chaotic adventure starting with his dodging of thieves and prostitutes in insalubrious bars in Zanzibar through to a tense interview with the first democratically elected president of Burundi. In just over 200 pages Grant manages to cram in seafaring the Indian ocean in a cargo dhow, navigating the whole of Tanzania's Malagarasi river in
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I take guilty pleasure in reading about this man's travails throughout the world. Now that I've come back to write a review and have seen that his body of work has increased, I'm sure I'll read more.

This book also made some fascinating points about how aid and development can go terribly wrong, even if made with the best of intentions.
Phil Overeem
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a third about Grant's ill-advised attempt to trek the full length of the Malagarisi, a third parallel history followed the legendary British explorer Richard Burton, and a third commentary on the joys and horrors of East Africa. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating, occasionally grueling, insight into contemporary East Africa, with parallel analysis of previous exploration (Burton, Speke, Grant, Livingstone).
Cathy Savage
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it
This is essentially a travelog about the author's travels through East Africa. It details the journey from Zanzibar across to Tanzania to make the first descent of the Malagarasai River. He also is looking to see the origins of the White Nile for himself and interview the president of Rwanda. This story gives the short story of the woes of travel in East Africa, health issues encountered along the way as well as introducing us to the cast of people who helped him along the way. The writing is ea ...more
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Although what I got out of the book was a little different than what I expected, I still really enjoyed this read. Somehow I had the idea that this would be an almost exclusively water based adventure but the reader is 1/3 of the way through the book...if not more...before the author ever really hits the water. While in Zanzibar, he gets a little side tracked by a former golf pro and ends up spending quite a bit of time with him before he remembers he's supposed to be rafting down the Malagarasi ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-copies, 2019
This book starts exceptionally slow for me, at p 56 we move from Zanzibar to mainland Tanzania and only somewhere in the 80 pages we reach the beginning of the jaunt for malagarasi, which is, disappointingly over even before it begins, and then somehow picks up again for a short while till it is actually over. Currently living in kasulu, and hilltop hotel being one of my favourites in kigoma, there are parts of this book that resonated with me. The writing is effortless and beautiful but I still ...more
Eleena Banerji
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ride with Richard Grant as he takes you to and through the Malagarasi River in Tanzania
His encounters with pods of Hippos, crocodiles, guns and thugs make for a heady combination
Vivid descriptions of East African people's accents, lifestyle and appearances brought back a rush of memories of my stay in Nairobi two decades ago

This book is not just about his exploration of a lesser-known river but also provides an account of the unspeakable and ghastly human genocide in Rwanda in the 90s, specific
Charles Nevle
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Eye Opener on East Africa

Embarrassingly I came to this book nearly totally ignorant of East Africa, attracted solely as a solid fan of Richard Grant’s writing. The book, as all of his are, is entertaining. But more than that, it provides a perspective on a place that I imagine many more than myself have largely ignored.

In the book he references a quote from Ecclesiastes 1: 18 “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” There is certainly plenty of grief that
Mike Fantauzzi
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another fantastic African travelogue. Grant travels through some far flung East African locations, meets very interesting people and re-counts the fascinating history of Burton & Speke traveling a similar route many years earlier. His writing is honest and insightful and I felt I learned so much about the history and present landscape of this beautiful & troubled part of the world. I will surely check out his other efforts. ...more
Michael Geske
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tiring, exhausting adventure. A “bring you back to reality” experience.

Really, everyone in the world should read this. A world exists in Africa that very VERY few people understand. I’m not sure that anyone does. This book will give you a new understanding, just not an elusive full understanding. It will certainly make you better grounded in understanding where YOU live, and make you a little more appreciative and definitely more wise.
April U.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
Crazy River is a great travel memoir, particularly if visiting far away lands is in your blood. Grant captures perfectly the mindset of the career traveler, where you most appreciate the comforts of home when you are away. He also deftly weaves African history and culture throughout his story, creating an entertaining and informative picture of modern-day life in East Africa.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love the way Richard Grant writes. I love his adventurousness. He has a great way of capturing people that I really enjoy. If he has one fault, it is that he tends to overstate some points and opinions. Specifically, I felt that the criticisms of all aid work were overdone. Still loved the book and will read more by him.
Jo Ann
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love the adventures of Richard! This is my second read. I also enjoyed Postcards From Pluto. Oddly enough, I've been to Tanzania several times on mission trips and I found his descriptions spot on of the region and people. Good read!
Carol Chapman
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I got this book from a kiosk where you leave 1 book and pick up another. I had mixed feelings about it. I enjoyed learning more about Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, but thought the author was a bit nuts.
Kate Kruk
Aug 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting and colorful storytelling. Alternately lurid and sobering, slapdash and contemplative, it feels like a truthful and unvarnished diary of the author’s travels deep into the East-Central African bush.
Thomas Ryan
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book that I read while traveling in East Africa a few back.
Steve Bera
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most interesting reads of Africa I have ever read. Highly recommend. Not so much about paddling as about the history and current conditions there.
William J. Wood Jr MD
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A trip that went so bad you can only laugh. Excellent end section of interviews with the golden boy President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. I'm a big fan of Grant's writings. He used to be a Tucsonan.
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Richard Grant is excellent.
Stoned nINJA
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: exploration
21st century eploration at its best . Must read .10/10
Tom Baker
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A well written account of the author's trails, travels and travails in East Africa. The last couple of chapters were especially honest and frank about the horrors of the Rwandan genocide.
Matthew Lightfoot
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An amazing African adventure, straddling a number of countries. I love Grant's writing and this book inspired a number of shorter forways of my own into the 'dark continent'.
Luis Keesling
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book because I have previously read "God's Middle Finger" this one is also very good.
G Scott
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Not something I would want to actually do. It was a good read.
Super interesting to learn more about the central African countries he travelled through, would say that only the first half of the book was actually about the malagarasi
Actual rating: 4.5 stars // REVIEW to come
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Richard Grant is a freelance British travel writer based in Arizona. He was born in Malaysia, lived in Kuwait as a boy and then moved to London. He went to school in Hammersmith and received a history degree from University College, London. After graduation he worked as a security guard, a janitor, a house painter and a club DJ before moving to America where he lived a nomadic life in the American ...more

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