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Angry Wind: Through Muslim Black Africa by Truck, Bus, Boat, and Camel Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 15, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This engrossing narration of crossing the Sahel—the Saharan borderlands of Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Mali—by tortuous and frequently hair-raising local conveyances finds a barren, wind-scoured region, wracked by hunger, tribal conflict, animosity between Muslims and Christians and—a particular bane of wayfarers at border crossings—an infuriatingly corrupt and high-handed bureaucracy. Journalist Tayler (Glory in a Camel's Eye) is guilt-stricken by the appalling poverty and enchanted with a Tuareg tribal sword dance ("This is how people were meant to live... shouting their joy into the wild night sky!"), but he generally avoids being overwhelmed by either the region's problems or its exotic charms. Indeed, his critical perspective makes him an often cantankerous presence. Fluent in Arabic and French, he is drawn into debates about religion and politics (President Bush's words and deeds are a favorite topic among Sahelian Muslims), skeptically cross-examines folklore about tourist spots, argues vehemently—with local defenders and Western relativists alike—against the persistent customs of slavery and female circumcision, and faces down bribe-hungry customs officials. Appreciative of the generosity and patience of the region's long-suffering inhabitants, he also sees their cultures as bogged down by dogma and fatalism. Vividly written and trenchantly observed, Tayler's account opens an everyday window on a world that the West normally confronts only in crisis.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In 2002, travel writer Tayler, author of Glory in a Camel's Eye (2003), undertook a journey through the Sahel, the southern region of the Sahara Desert. His journey took him through some of the most dangerous regions of countries such as Chad, Nigeria, and Niger, as he sought out Africans of Muslim faith in particular. Tayler encountered many generous people along the way, as well as plenty of bureaucracy and even danger when he traversed territory rife with land mines. Along the way, he talked to Africans of both Muslim and Christian faiths, learning how deep the division between the two groups is. With 9/11 still fresh in everyone's mind and the U.S. on the cusp of attacking Iraq, Tayler also heard plenty of opinions from Muslims about the U.S and Bush, mostly negative and concerned. Tayler vividly recounts the bustling markets, busy cities, and rundown palaces he saw on his journey from Chad to Senegal. The best travel writers can evoke an image of a place in the reader's mind; Tayler does so here with eloquence and grace that bring the cities he visits to life for the armchair traveler. Lovers of travel literature and those who want to learn more about Islam in Africa should not miss this beautifully written travelogue. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (February 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061833467X
  • ASIN: B004JZWPMI
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,363,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael H. Frederick on March 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm glad that insightful writers like Jeffrey Tayler suffer through trips such as the one described here. That way, armchair travelers can get an idea of what these far-flung, dangerous and dirt poor places are really like without having to risk life and limb to understand what it's really like out there.

In the best travel-writing tradition, Angry Wind recounts an arduous journey, revealing the hardships of roughing it on the backroads of some of the world's poorest countries. In the region just south of the Sahara, the Sahel, traveling overland from Chad through Nigeria, Niger and Mali, the author provides wonderful insight into this seldom visited and often misunderstood part of the world. In the complicated post 9/11 world, America is often seen as the aggressor, especially in Muslim countries, and Tayler is frequently the target of animosity when the people he meets learn his nationality. My hat is off to him for overlooking some of the harsh words thrown his way and trying to understand the motivation of the inhabitants of this arid region. It helps that Tayler is fluent in French and Arabic, two languages that see him through quite a few sticky situations.

In addition to learning a lot about the Sahel I very much appreciated Tayler's descriptions of the people and the dire situations they struggle to survive in. Many of the towns and cities he visits eke out a hand-to-mouth existence; daily survival is very much a challenge that we in the West can't begin to comprehend. The filth, poverty and malnutrition serve to color the people's view of the world and, according to the author, provide a ripe breeding ground for Islamic extremism.
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Format: Hardcover
. . . will not know the value of men" (Moorish saying)

Jeffrey Tayler must have had this saying in his mind when embarking on his extraordinary journey across the Sahel from Northern Chad to Senegal on the Atlantic Coast. His book follows in the footsteps of famous explorers of the Sahara/Sahel in centuries past, starting with Ibn Battuta and Leo Africanus to Mungo Park and Heinrich Barth. Tayler deserves an honoured place among them.

An experienced traveler in difficult terrains, as described in previous books, he set himself an unusually challenging itinerary. He trekked mainly through remote rural areas at the southern edge of the Sahara, relying on local transport and local people for assistance in his quest. The two-month excursion took place in early 2003 (prior to the invasion of Iraq) but the shadow of 9/11 confronted him everywhere, with varying degrees of vehemence. One of his objectives, in fact, had been to explore the reactions of local people to the conflicts between his home country, USA, and this part of Africa that is predominantly Muslim. He wanted to hear their concerns and how they judged American politics and treated an American in their midst. His fluency in Arabic and French as well as familiarity with Arab and West African Muslim cultures were essential preconditions for this adventure.

And it was an adventure in all respects: threat of bandits, lack of safe food and water, breaking down vehicles, military and border bureaucrats' attempts to block his way. He followed far-flung desert tracks into regions foreigner had rarely ventured to enter. Chad is not on tourist maps, nor is the northern region of Nigeria. Neither is Niger, the second poorest country in the world.
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I am in the travel book mode this winter--after finishing Blood River by Tim Butcher---I found this book on Amazon. Butcher's book was the more engaging I attributed that to the fact that he was a journalist (UK Telegraph) and knew how to write prose that keeps your interest. Butcher also did very intensive research into the subject for a year or two before he set out. He emailed anyone who might remember the Congo from colonial times...He talked with old Mobutu ministers. It is obvious he could not have done all he did without being fluent in French.

This book is just as accurate a camera as Blood River. Both books lay bare the absolutely wretched condition of Africa there was no flinching or attempt to prettify things....although the joie de vivre scenes at the Touareg camp outside Timbuktu in this book seemed cartoonish and incongruous and am so glad the rest of the book sticks to the facts how ever horrible they may be.

I could have done without the stock slavery and whitey caused it all that Tayler ends the book with but it is mercifully short and you get the impression that he doesn't completely buy that...e.g. Niger could have farms but the lazy attitude of the men prevents it. This is part of the liberal landscape these authors emerged from probably can't get it published without adding these PC elements.

Also while adding the up the few negatives I must add his crusade against female genital circumcision. I know what it is I don't need graphic details. However to his credit he gives the local attitude about the matter and opposing it is hopeless. The 2 aid workers (I find it amusing when these authors meet what they don't like--usually competition) had it right--drop it. He just makes them look wise.
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