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No Mercy: A Journey Into the Heart of the Congo (1996)

de Redmond O'Hanlon

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623929,054 (3.77)20
"Seven years in the making, Congo Journey is destined to become one of the classics of travel literature." "Ostensibly a quest for Mokele-mbembe, the Congo dinosaur (whose secret becomes clear), this story of travel through the jungles and swamp forests of the northern Congo is Tolstoyan in its depth, scope and range of characters, and as vivid as Nabokov in its image and detail. A portrait of a country, it is alive with natural history: eagles and parrots, hornbills and sunbirds; forest cobras and crocodiles; gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, swamp antelope, forest elephants - and one Giant Gambian rat. A search for the meaning of sorcery, the purpose of religion (and a celebration of the comfort and mysteries of science), it is also an adventure told with great narrative force." "Of course there is a darker side to the Congo, and that, too, is recorded here."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved… (més)
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I've now completed the three O'Hanlon jungle books: Into the Heart of Borneo (1984), In Trouble Again (1988) and Congo Journey (1996) - they are best read in that order as they grow increasingly longer and complex. Congo has been called his magnus opus. I found it the least enjoyable. It's a hot mess, reflecting the place. As another reviewer pointed out, this is not an easy read with a lot going on, many characters who are mostly distasteful, an aura of magical realism, drugs and alcohol, death and sex, fear, disease, painful insects, claustrophobia. It deserves multiple closer readings, I'm not sure I could take it. ( )
2 vota Stbalbach | Mar 4, 2020 |
Zeer goed reisverhaal waaruit blijkt dat overleven in de natuur geen lachertje is, voor mens noch dier. Geen haar op mijn hoofd om daar zelfs maar één dag door te brengen.
Men moet over een grote dosis doodsverachting beschikken om zulk een reis te ondernemen. Zpuden velen - alleen al door de angst (om de volgende morgen niet te halen)- hun verstand niet verliezen in deze jungle? Wanneer we ons afvragen waarom afrikanen leven van dag tot dag; dit boek levert vrijwel zeker het antwoord.
Lees misschien ook eens "Congo" van David van Reybrouck. ( )
  buchstaben | Feb 28, 2018 |
This is a complex and rich book: it takes the form of a diary of an intrepid tropical journey, but at a deeper level it is an observant and challenging look at the people (predominantly men in greater depth) whom O'Hanlon travels with and meets. These people's manners and moods run the gamut of responses to their circumstances as more or less marginal residents of Congo-Brazzaville: chiefly Marcellin, his main guide, a highly educated man of some authority whose resentment at his lack of opportunity to express his talents seems to have twisted his character into domineering, nymphomania and deviousness. He also encounters Marcellin's subordinate nephews, bothersome government officials and soldiers (in a wonderful opening section dealing with his efforts to obtain the right visa), tyrannical local bosses, feuding villagers, exotic pygmies, and many women who in each location gravitate to Marcellin. There are shocking scenes, as on the river convoy, a malaria fever-dream, and untold wildlife sightings and disease reports. O'Hanlon is by turns adventurous, fearful, anxious, and curious, not to mention subject to drug-induced hallucinations and self-doubt, while fellow traveller Lary's reservations and homesickness serve as a foil to his romantic ideas. There is loads here for the nature and adventure reader, but even more for the reader interested in getting an unvarnished, unexpurgatedly realistic view of the relations between people of differing levels of power and opportunity in a modern post-colonial society, one where Euro-Americans are not much esteemed but still vastly wealthier in money and life-chances: the academic adventurers with money and daring, reduced to dependence and ignorance in their strange surroundings; the thwarted local 'big man'; the hangers-on doing the best they can without much hope for the future; the traditional pygmies hoping to keep out from under the thumb of the region's Bantu colonists; a country of meaningless official ideology, corruption, unsatisfying liaisons, callous bargaining and everybody trying to make the best of a losing hand. There is very little explicit authorial editorialising, and there is so much going on in this book that it can be hard to get a mental handle on it, but this is also what makes it so richly thought-provoking. This is a reality presented with very little censorship or opinionation; it is in many ways saddening and startling. It is not necessarily a hugely enjoyable book, or one that is easy to read, but it is a strange travel book of rare human depth. ( )
2 vota wa233 | Jul 11, 2017 |
I was fascinated by this tale of Redmond O'Hanlon's treck through the Congo in search of a prehistoric beast purported to be still living deep in the jungle. ( )
  michellebarton | Dec 11, 2013 |
Lit with humor, full of African birdsong and told with great narrative force, No Mercy is the magnum opus of "probably the finest writer of travel books in the English language," as Bill Bryson wrote in Outside, "and certainly the most daring."

Redmond O'Hanlon has journeyed among headhunters in deepest Borneo with the poet James Fenton, and amid the most reticent, imperilled and violent tribe in the Amazon Basin with a night-club manager. This, however, is his boldest journey yet. Accompanied by Lary Shaffer--an American friend and animal behaviorist, a man of imperfect health and brave decency--he enters the unmapped swamp-forests of the People's Republic of the Congo, in search of a dinosaur rumored to have survived in a remote prehistoric lake.

The flora and fauna of the Congo are unrivalled, and with matchless passion O'Hanlon describes scores of rare and fascinating animals: eagles and parrots, gorillas and chimpanzees, swamp antelope and forest elephants. But as he was repeatedly warned, the night belongs to Africa, and threats both natural (cobras, crocodiles, lethal insects) and supernatural (from all-powerful sorcerers to Samalé, a beast whose three-clawed hands rip you across the back) make this a saga of much fear and trembling. Omnipresent too are ecological depredations, political and tribal brutality, terrible illness and unnecessary suffering among the forest pygmies, and an appalling waste of human life throughout this little-explored region.

An elegant, disturbing and deeply compassionate evocation of a vanishing world, extraordinary in its depth, scope and range of characters, No Mercy is destined to become a landmark work of travel, adventure and natural history. A quest for the meaning of magic and the purpose of religion, and a celebration of the comforts and mysteries of science, it is also--and above all--a powerful guide to the humanity that prevails even in the very heart of darkness. ( )
  MarkBeronte | Jul 28, 2013 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 9 (següent | mostra-les totes)
O'Hanlon's current driving passion? After journeying among the Amazon's headhunters in his most recent In Trouble Again (Random, 1990) it is to catch a glimpse of the African version of the Loch Ness monster: the legendary Mokele-mbembe dinosaur residing in the unreachable depths of Lake Tele, deep in the northern Congo forests. Intrepid? Or merely insensible to pain?O'Hanlon ventures forth, armed with antivenom serums and innumerable medicines against alarmingly resistant diseases; bribes for officials of the Marxist People's Republic of the Congo; presents for the Pygmies he hopes to find; a crusty scientist companion, Larry Shaffer, from Plattsburgh, New York; and volumes of birding guides and H.M. Stanley's chronicles of travels into Africa before him. Neither hostile local chiefs nor an army of skin-crawling bedevilments will thwart our O'Hanlon from his goal. His account is minute and ironical, given lively relief by Shaffer's gallows humor. It offers compelling reading, for seasoned travelers and couch potatoes alike, and includes an excellent bibliography of the rich history, wildlife, and exploration of the Congo. Highly recommended.
afegit per Ella_Jill | editaLibrary Journal, Amy Boaz
 

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In her hut in Poto-Poto, the poor quarter of Brazzaville, the feticheuse, smiling at us, knelt on the floor, drew out a handful of cowrie shells from the cloth bag at her waist, and cast them across the raffia mat.
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"Seven years in the making, Congo Journey is destined to become one of the classics of travel literature." "Ostensibly a quest for Mokele-mbembe, the Congo dinosaur (whose secret becomes clear), this story of travel through the jungles and swamp forests of the northern Congo is Tolstoyan in its depth, scope and range of characters, and as vivid as Nabokov in its image and detail. A portrait of a country, it is alive with natural history: eagles and parrots, hornbills and sunbirds; forest cobras and crocodiles; gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys, swamp antelope, forest elephants - and one Giant Gambian rat. A search for the meaning of sorcery, the purpose of religion (and a celebration of the comfort and mysteries of science), it is also an adventure told with great narrative force." "Of course there is a darker side to the Congo, and that, too, is recorded here."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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