Travel book: Chasing the Devil

By Jim Eagles

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Chasing the Devil
by Tim Butcher
Chatto & Windus, $39.99

Chasing the Devil by Tim Butcher. Photo / Supplied
Chasing the Devil by Tim Butcher. Photo / Supplied

Adventurous foreign correspondent Tim Butcher, looking for reasons to complete some unfinished business in Liberia (where he received a death threat from the forces of the brutal warlord Charles Taylor a couple of years ago), decides to emulate a 560-kilometre trek that novelist Graham Greene made through Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia back in 1935.

These are three of the more war-damaged, chaotic countries in Africa, probably even more challenging to traverse on foot today than 75 years ago, so it's no surprise the result is an exciting tale, full of black magic and dancing devils, friendly villagers and dedicated aid workers, blistered feet and empty stomachs.

But it's also an interesting walk through African history, especially the ongoing slavery which prompted Greene's walk, and the tragic sequence of warlords and wars which in a way inspired Butcher's.

It probably won't inspire many people to follow suit but it's certainly one of the best travel books I've read this year.

- NZ Herald

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