Congo Journey, Redmond O'Hanlon, 1996I first saw Mr. O'Hanlon on a public television program which reviews books and interviews authors. I found him to be an interesting person, both witty and articulate, and decided to give this book a try.
Hamish Hamilton Ltd, published by the Penguin Group, 1996
It details the quest for Mokélé-mbembe, the Congo dinosaur, and recounts O'Hanlon's journey through the jungles and swamp forests of the northern Congo. He also searches for the meaning of sorcery and the purpose of religion which I found tends to conflict with his western ideaologies.
The only thing I can say which I did not like about the book, are the very detailed descriptions of the birds which O'Hanlon encounters on his journey. This may be due to the fact that I am not an ornithologist, and therefore am not familiar with the many variety of birds which he describes. I found these paragraphs to be a bit tedious.
Bird descriptions aside, I found the book to be fascinating. O'Hanlon covers a variety of issues; such as the political situation of the Congo (communist) and the ramifications on its population, the beliefs that are steeped into the very soil of the country it seems, the environmental impact of the citizens on the wildlife, the tribalism which is rampant, and the real perils of the jungle into which he travels. I liked the way he simply described the events and situations he encountered, with a true endeavour to understand what was happening. He truly captured the disorientation that can be felt when a person is away from all that is familiar and under very stressful conditions.
His description of the spiritual aspects of his journey were very well written to get the flavour of his experience. One cannot truly understand a personal experience, however, if read with an open mind, one can see that there are lessons to be learned from O'Hanlon's.
I don't want to give too much away by entering into descriptions of specific events, as I found they all seem to come together at some point in the book, although at some points it feels like unraveling a tangled ball of string.
Overall, I found this book to be entertaining, educational and well worthwile the read. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a glimpse into a very foreign way of life.
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