Debbie Howell's Reviews > Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
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's review
Jul 26, 2008

liked it
Recommended for: burnt-out Peace Corps workers & people interested in uncomfortable modes of transportation
Read in August, 2008

That rare thing, a travel book that makes me NOT want to travel. Theroux's skill as a writer makes this book engaging at times, vividly descriptive and insightful about some of the places he visited in his overland journey through Africa. But his crankiness wore on me and by the end I felt like he was a travel companion that I had wearied of being with on a really long trip. He comes down very hard on idealistic people (aid workers, religious workers, etc.) who go to Africa to try to "make a difference." While I think he has some very valid points to make about the unintended consequences of such outside "help," in the end he just comes off as mean-spirited and snobby, and often contemptuous of the African people he encounters. It's interesting to note that Theroux in his younger days went to Africa as a teacher and Peace Corps worker, so he must have been idealistic in some way, starting out--so it's almost like he has some kind of self-hatred thing going, a compulsion to put down those who think they can do some good. Still, it was an interesting book and had value in the area of understanding the complexity of Africa's problems and the difficulty of using Western assumptions and methods to alleviate them.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by E (new)

E I read 2 Theroux books and decided that was enough. He has some interesting observations, but his books are too dreary for me.

Debbie Howell Yes, dreary says it well. He really wore on me after a while.

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