Jamie | 2/13/2014
" This is an informative, well-researched book, packed with interesting snippets about the places he goes and the Greene's journey. There's a useful side to Tim's being a journalist - wherever he goes, he searches out the most interesting people and draws their stories into a wonderfully woven tale of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. This tale, almost a collection of other people's anecdotes tacked onto Tim's own journey, gives a much greater sense of context to the tragedies that have repeatedly swept across the region. While the title might seem at first glance a bit sensationalist, I think it makes sense. He talks repeatedly about the power of traditional magic and ritual, and how through fear and loyalty this preserves Liberian societies' egalitarian communalism in a way that seems to make extreme violence more usual. Certain things that stand out when you think of the Liberia and Sierra Leone civil wars - cannibalism, ritualised brutality, black magic - make more sense when coupled with Tim Butcher's explanation.
There is a sense of parallel with the Greene's journey, but what makes this book really interesting is the way he uses the Greene's own story to draw European history together with the modern West Africa. Undoubtedly, the slave trade had a massive impact on this part of the world and any attempt to describe it without slavery as a point of reference would be inadequate. That said, the perspective is almost uniformly European, sometimes even neo-colonial; those who would expect something a bit deeper - what Liberia was like before Europeans turned up, for instance - will probably find themselves disappointed. Still, given the scope of the book, it's hugely illuminating and readable.
He also describes with an unerring modesty the conditions of the places he stays in and the details of the trek, but never gets too bogged down in how difficult it was, which it must have been. Walking twenty miles a day is a challenge under the best of conditions, but when it's through sweltering jungle with only rice and chicken to sustain you, this must have been much tougher than he makes out.
In all, a fantastic read, and an educational one at that. "
Avril | 2/5/2014
" It was an ok book. Read it on holiday last year, a little slow to get started but not a wasted read. "
Paula | 2/4/2014
" An amazing and courageous adventure following the Greene's steps. Good lesson about History of Sierra Leone and Liberia. "
Russell Traughber | 2/4/2014
" My comments echo many others. I authored a memoir about a Liberian girl from the Gola tribe. She was born in there in 1948. Tim's book gave me precious nuggets of history and cultural insights regard the Poro and Sande. If you are interested in further reading about Liberia then please see my memoir bookshelf. Great read, Tim. Thank you and Dave and Johnson. Glad he has a house now. "
Elie | 1/15/2014
" As I heard from my friend, Butcher's first book (Blood River, about the Congo) involved him taking UN transport, talking tough, and comparing himself to Stanley... Chasing the Devil was better, as this time Butcher compares himself to Graham Greene, whose footsteps he follows as he walks through upcountry Liberia (the horror, the horror). The book is well-researched, but you never really see Butcher's struggles or hear his true thoughts about the world around him--and he seems to have no perceptible sense of humor. Basic and bland, I only read this because, for now, I live here. "
Katy Vance | 1/4/2014
" This was an interesting perspective on parts of Africa that I know nothing about. It was a pleasant blend of history and modern travel writing. Recommended for folks interested in learning about Liberia and the history of slave trade and colonialism. "
Susan | 6/12/2013
" Definitely not a page turner or a travel adventure, very dry, a few interesting bits from Graham Greene's journey, which the book is based on, might be better to just read that book. "
April | 2/11/2013
" Maybe its because the landscape described is so familar or just a longing to be this brave and set out on this type of journey, but just like blood river, I loved this book. Well done Tim, lets hope we see some more fom you. "
Larry | 5/20/2012
" Great and easy read with interesting background into Sierra Leone & Liberia. Enjoyed more than the Fear & loathing in DRC. Lot less paranoid. "
Paul | 4/2/2012
" Part travel, part glimpse into one of Africa's bleak history and location "
Jon | 3/22/2012
" Another excellent book by an intrepid African adventurer. I had only just finished reading Blood River when I embarked on thsi one and I wished in hindsight that I had left a bit more time between the books. "
Ahmed | 1/2/2012
" a great read .a well written book about the one of the tragedies of Africa ,after the excellent experience i had reading blood river,i was not disappointed in reading this excellent review of Sierra leone and liberia tragedies Well done Tim "
PaulaSarreira | 10/10/2010
" An amazing and courageous adventure following the Greene's steps. Good lesson about History of Sierra Leone and Liberia.