I was recommended this book having bought and read several on the Congo - from King Leopold's Ghost to in the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz.
The book starts of promisingly by covering the initial discovery of the Congo by a band of Portuguese explorers in the time before HM Stanley and King Leopold. However, after this everyting changes. It also ends well with a brief summary of the current situation in the Congo and why there has been a unique lack of progress internationally in trying to resuscitate the Congo. However, the rest of the book is a disappointment.
A good travel book should not only talk of the journey, which this book does, but also talk of the events behind every stop-over or every incident, which this book does not.
You really do get the sense that he doesn't really care that much for the country or situation around him, but is only there to try and emulate HM Stanley and travel down the Congo. The author only becomes interested in the situation in the Congo when his life is threatened or his journey is interrupted in some way. Therefore describing this as 'the story of the Congo, told expertly and vividly', as it does on the cover page, is far from the truth.
Every single stop over that he has talks of the dangers of being in built up areas and brieflt mentions the Mai Mai, Interahamwe etc, but he never really looks into anything about why these crazed militias exist. This lack of detail, investigation and insight is repeated throughout this book and ultimately you are left with more questions than answers.
It is a pity and a real shame. The book had so much potential, but is ultimately ruined by its short length and the authors lack of interest.