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Tropical diseases insects and large predators But the vibrant reality of Kenya and its people took over the second he deplaned in Nairobi and this diary records Bill Bryson's impresssions of his trip with his inimitable trademark style of wry observation and curious insight From the wrenching poverty of the Kibera slum in Nairobi to the meticulously manicured grounds of the Karen Blixen house and the human fossil riches of the Natio This is not really a book It is Bill Bryson's Diary about his 8 day trip to Kenya with CARE international It's just 55 pages long I got it from the library due to being interested in charity work I found it odd that it was in the library in the first place as it is not for profit and all the proceeds go to CAREsurely having a copy in the library defeats this purpose?anywayContent wise it was okay but limited The descriptions of the slums and various people Bryson met were interesting but there was not enough proper detail due to the limited writings He also describes other experiences at length; eg taking a trip on a light aircraft I found his descriptions of these experiences over dramatisedfreuently referring to the likelihood of death etcThere was the odd swearword but for a non Christian book it wasn't too bad I found myself wondering what the purpose really was in writing this book It reminded me again of the tragedy of offering help without hope The author wonders what else can be done for these people many of whom are refugees and he comments that they have no hope for the future He doesn't realise the significance of his observations but reading that as a Christian his words jumped off the pageThere can be no future hope without the saving message of Jesus and freedom from sin

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Bill Bryson's African Diary

Nal Museum Bryson registers the striking contrasts of a postcolonial society in transition He visits the astoundingly vast Great Rift Valley; undergoes the rigors of a teeth rattling train journey to Mombasa and a hair whitening flight through a vicious storm; and visits the refugee camps and the agricultural and economic projects where dedicated CARE professionals wage noble and dogged war against poverty dislocation and corruption This is a pretty short travelogue a week's diary written as part of an initiative from CARE to bring in visibility and focus to the enormous challenges being faced in Africa and the stellar work that CARE and similar organisations are doing Kudos to the thought behind this initiative inventive and world wise enough to know the innovative channels to tap to bring in the much needed publicity I'm not going to be patting the backs of Bryson and the publishers too much because no profit doesn't mean that all costs were borne by themselves CARE would have still had to pay for all the expenses of the tour and the printing costs and the no profit tag is being applied only financiallyAbout the book itself it started off breezily in Bryson esue fashion and has enough Bryson isms thrown in in terms of facts numbers large picture observations that could be me thinking that thoughts and self effacing humour There is nothing of the touristy Kenya that I anticipated with the trip sticking to the various camps and places that CARE is working upon However just when I was settling in a bit the book ended leaving me to get off the table with just the appetizers servedSo don't expect Bryson writing about game drives in Masai Mara and watching flamingos in Lake Nakuru or the typical Bryson research into the fantastic work being carried out or any comprehensive write up about the history of the camps challenges and way forward The intent is purely to provide a glimpse at what CARE does without getting into much detailing and it sure does its job as it pushed me into doing a bit online reading about it

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In the early fall of 2002 famed travel Writer Bill Bryson journeyed to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International the charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty around the world He arrived with a set of mental images of Africa gleaned from television broadcasts of low budget Jungle Jim movies in his Iowa childhood and a single viewing of the film version of Out of Africa Also with some worries about All the Bryson goodness you've come to know and love at half the caloriesActually it's like a 10th the size In fact the worst part about Bill Bryson's African Diary is its shortness This slim volume is about awareness and philanthropy rather than a literary or journalistic endeavor for its own sake Bryson heads to Kenya to check out CARE International's charitable works Times are tough there Clean drinking water is at a premium There's some slight heart string pulling but it's not Sally Struthers sappy Just the right amount of compassion Tidbits of Bryson's trademark humor are wedged in between the descriptions of the ravaged slums and gorgeous beaches His style and low key flair are present in small uantities This would be perfect for the Bryson noob who wanted to test the waters before diving into the deep end of his chunky books


10 thoughts on “Bill Bryson's African Diary

  1. says:

    All the Bryson goodness you've come to know and love at half the caloriesActually it's like a 10th the size In fact the worst part about Bill Bryson's African Diary is its shortness This slim volume is about awareness and philanthropy rather than a literary or journalistic endeavor for its own sake Bryson heads to Kenya to check out CARE International's charitable works Times are tough there Clean drinking water is at a premium There's some slight heart string pulling but it's not Sally Struthers sappy Just the right amount of compassion Tidbits of Bryson's trademark humor are wedged in between the descriptions of the ravaged slums and gorgeous beaches His style and low key flair are present in small uantities This would be perfect for the Bryson noob who wanted to test the waters before diving into the deep end of his chunky books


  2. says:

    In 2002 CARE International invited Bill Bryson on an eight day trip to tour its humanitarian work in Kenya with him writing it up into this Bill Bryson’s African Diary something of a misnomer as Bryson only visits Kenya The entire proceeds of the short book will go to help the kinds of people depicted inside it and it’s a wonderful read tooAs you would expect the horrors of the country’s widespread poverty aren’t ignored as Bryson visits Kibera a shanty town on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital city Nairobi with a population of between 700000 and 1 million people The conditions are appalling and thousands are HIV positive and yet the place officially doesn’t exist and is ignored by the Kenyan government He also visits a refugee camp where the people there are stuck in a bureaucratic limbo stateless just existing with little chance of a future But the book isn’t all a sobering guilt trip as Bryson also takes in the wonders of the Kenyan National Museum which houses 500 of the roughly 5000 fossilized human bones in existence and Olorgasailie an area where early humans made tools for a million years There are also gently humorous passages in Bryson’s inimitable style involving the dangerous and poorly maintained railways and the nightmare of flying in a light aircraft during a storm The most interesting and inspiring part was seeing a bank called Wedco give loans to develop small businesses helping give some of these people a shot at a real life that they wouldn’t have without it And the small village of Ogongo Tir where CARE installed a new well for them but gave them responsibility over it underlining that while they need a hand to get the ball rolling the people there want to take control of their own destinies rather than depend forever on the West I hesitate to use the word but Bill Bryson’s African Diary is entertaining as well as informative with Bryson serving as a genial conduit to learning about CARE International and its outstanding work in Kenya It’s a uick read but a memorable and moving one with an excellent cause at its heart well worth picking up especially as the purchase price goes to help these people’s lives become a little better


  3. says:

    CARE an international aid agency headuartered in the UK asked Bill Bryson to visit their Kenyan operation and write about it Somewhere along the lines the idea changed to include publishing a book and using all profits as a donation to charity with a small amount of the 12 cover price used for printing and distribution costs Most of the participants were volunteering their timeSounds like a great idea right? Except the book itself is disappointing It's a novelette It's 40 pages in an undersized book with big margins About 90% of the content is him worrying about dying in the trains planes and automobiles that might crash along his journey Only about 10% covered actual Kenyan life and country Almost no history was included in complete contrast to the book I read prior In a Sunburned Country It's not that it's badly written but it could have been so much better He visits a refugee camp and barely talks about it for a paragraph while devoting three pages to the airplane flight back He visits a micro lending organization and spends a sentence talking about his interaction with the borrowers Ironically he praises a local Kenyan farmer growing non indigenous crops the same action he highly criticized in In a Sunburned Country for damaging the Australian outbackThis was a great idea under executed And it's a shame because I think had it been done right say trade the hard cover for an additional 40 50 pages of content and this would have been great Having a better story would have sold books making even money for the charity I'll give him a C for Charity but a D for leaving the real story out of the book Bill short changed himself Kenya and CARE by pulling his punches in the name of charity


  4. says:

    AgainI felt gypped by this Bryson bookThe title sounds excitingBill Bryson in the mysterious dark continentSurelythere must be humour and adventure in such a settingSadlythat doesn't happenDon't expect safaris or sightings of big gameBryson is on a sponsored tour and so he has lent his name to this bookHe really shouldn't have written this oneThere is a certain uality and humourwhich I have come to expect from his travel booksThis is much too shortand lacking anything of interestHe did spend eight days in KenyaThat is sufficient time to be able to write somethingbut that doesn't happen


  5. says:

    I feel like an asshole for not giving this stars I am an enormous Bill Bryson fan I've read everything else he has published with the exception of Shakespeare The World as Stage which I'm starting tonight Unfortunately this sort of wasn't a Bill Bryson book It was a Bill Bryson journal entry It was only 49 pages and because it was done for charity it was overly sincere It almost completely lacked Bryson's signature humor He normally has such a colorful way of describing things that I even enjoyed his science book A Short History of Nearly Everything This was like 49 pages of Kenya is a real shithole and the people need help Nevertheless I wish I was able to give it stars because I just like him so much and because it is for charity So you know go spend the money so it goes to CARE but don't expect to spend than an hour with it and don't expect the kind of laughs I can still conjure up just by thinking of certain scenes in A Walk in the Woods


  6. says:

    This is not really a book It is Bill Bryson's Diary about his 8 day trip to Kenya with CARE international It's just 55 pages long I got it from the library due to being interested in charity work I found it odd that it was in the library in the first place as it is not for profit and all the proceeds go to CAREsurely having a copy in the library defeats this purpose?anywayContent wise it was okay but limited The descriptions of the slums and various people Bryson met were interesting but there was not enough proper detail due to the limited writings He also describes other experiences at length; eg taking a trip on a light aircraft I found his descriptions of these experiences over dramatisedfreuently referring to the likelihood of death etcThere was the odd swearword but for a non Christian book it wasn't too bad I found myself wondering what the purpose really was in writing this book It reminded me again of the tragedy of offering help without hope The author wonders what else can be done for these people many of whom are refugees and he comments that they have no hope for the future He doesn't realise the significance of his observations but reading that as a Christian his words jumped off the pageThere can be no future hope without the saving message of Jesus and freedom from sin


  7. says:

    This is a pretty short travelogue a week's diary written as part of an initiative from CARE to bring in visibility and focus to the enormous challenges being faced in Africa and the stellar work that CARE and similar organisations are doing Kudos to the thought behind this initiative inventive and world wise enough to know the innovative channels to tap to bring in the much needed publicity I'm not going to be patting the backs of Bryson and the publishers too much because no profit doesn't mean that all costs were borne by themselves CARE would have still had to pay for all the expenses of the tour and the printing costs and the no profit tag is being applied only financiallyAbout the book itself it started off breezily in Bryson esue fashion and has enough Bryson isms thrown in in terms of facts numbers large picture observations that could be me thinking that thoughts and self effacing humour There is nothing of the touristy Kenya that I anticipated with the trip sticking to the various camps and places that CARE is working upon However just when I was settling in a bit the book ended leaving me to get off the table with just the appetizers servedSo don't expect Bryson writing about game drives in Masai Mara and watching flamingos in Lake Nakuru or the typical Bryson research into the fantastic work being carried out or any comprehensive write up about the history of the camps challenges and way forward The intent is purely to provide a glimpse at what CARE does without getting into much detailing and it sure does its job as it pushed me into doing a bit online reading about it


  8. says:

    So disappointed in this I could see it was likely to be a puff piece for the charity in return for the junket but expected it to be leavened with the customary Bryson humour Much po faced and worthy than I thought with all the aid recipients 'saintly' and 'deserving' and inspirational Also hampered with first world guilt and the western tendency to take responsibility for everyone else Oh we built them wells but they fell into disrepair because we hadn't instructed them in how to maintain them Endless self flagellation and castigation and resolution to do things better Oh the government in uestion is corrupt and siphoning off millions of dollars Why don't international bodies like the IMF step in and stop this? Paternalistic and patronising treating African nations like half wit children


  9. says:

    First of all this is not a book It's a diary Bryson recounts his 8 days in Kenya with members of CARE International And that's 7 days longer than I'd want to be there What a dreadful place Poverty crime hunger lack of sanitation no clean water disease corrupt government and a hostile climate Some of the other reviewers on Goodreads fault Bryson for not covering enough ground but I disagree You don't need to read 300 pages to see the terrible conditions in which these people live EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES This short booklet is enough to make the point And if you read between the lines you will notice that Bryson runs us through a gamut of emotions ranging from humor before the journey to fear about the trip to disgust upon arrival to sympathy when connecting with the locals to enlightenment when he understands that the solution to the problems are within reach I checked out the Kindle edition from the Chicago Public Library at no charge so I am donating 10 to Careorg to cover the donation that would have gone to them with a bookstore purchase If you read my review and read a Kindle edition please do the same We CAN make a difference Thank you


  10. says:

    Bryson wit coupled with a real message from Africa My son is on an ROTC 3 month trip to Tanzania He commented to me that at dinner last week the power went out and nobody in their 30 person group blinked an eye No storm caused this But being there for 2 months made them realize that electricity outage can happen any time Bill explains the reality of REAL life where people live day to day amidst the contrasting buffet tables in the community nearby This short book wrapped me into a single session read while going on a walk You read about people that just want a chance to work hard and help their children Very inspirational This should be reuired reading for high school students They would like the writing style as they learn


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