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

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
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Nov 20, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: travel, 2009-reads, africa
Read in October, 2009

There are quite a few chapters in this book that are really insightful and enjoyable. Unfortunately, there are just as many chapters where Theroux shifts the focus away from the people and places he encounters on his journey to rag on international aid and development agencies (without actually adding anything substantive to the larger debate on the relative benefits of foreign aid) and remind the reader how much better he is than all other Westerners who come to Africa. He also makes rather frequent mention of how he likes to sleep naked.

I enjoyed the first chapter (Egypt) because I've been there. The following chapter, on Sudan, was also fairly interesting; from there, however, I would recommend skipping ahead to Malawi, but be warned that it's a pretty disheartening chapter (especially if you're a Peace Corps Volunteer). Trust me, the only thing you're missing in East Africa is Theroux being a self-righteous jerk. His account of visiting Zimbabwe is absolutely not to be missed (and the postscript on Zimbabwe in the newer editions is also worth reading), and fortunately by the time he arrives in South Africa in the final chapters, he's mostly dropped the attitude.

Also, for fellow PCVs: Theroux got kicked out of Peace Corps Malawi in the mid-1960s for getting involved with an opposition political movement. Remember the moral of pre-service training: Just don't do it.
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