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VINE VOICEon June 11, 2015
I love Bryson's books; that's why I was so disappointed with this slender volume.

On a Kindle, the actual diary takes up only 50%; the rest of the book is taken up with an excerpt from one of his other books, a book I had already read.

I am glad I got this book for only $1.99; I don't mind the proceeds going to CARE. I celebrate that, and that's the only reason I'm not returning it.

Now, how could it have been better?? He traveled with a photographer. Why were there no photos in this book? Include some photos of his travels through Africa with the CARE organization. Now THAT would've made this book even better. A chronological journey of words and photos through Africa.

Last of all, it ended so abruptly, with a, "Well, that's the end of this diary..." Very disappointing.

So, if you can get it at the reduced price, go for it, or if you don't mind making a larger contribution to CARE, buy it at the full price.

Hmmm....I wonder if I can write this off as a tax deduction as a charitable contribution.

LOL and JK, everyone.
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on May 23, 2003
African Diary is not one of Bryson's best pieces of travel writing. Regardless of the fact that the profits from the book goes to a charity (CARE), readers deserve a well written book about Kenya and its people. After reading the slender volume you get a very shallow understanding of that country and its culture. Bryson could have done better but in eight days, what can you really share about a country?
Bryson starts out by acknowledging his ignorance about the "Dark" continent beyond his exposure to Tarzan and Jungle Jim movies. CARE, a charitable organization, invites him to visit their projects in Kenya and write about them. He sees this as an opportunity to familiarize himself with the "Dark" continent. His diary covers eight days.
In one week we are told about the biggest slum in Kenya called Kibera and are assaulted with the dire statistics of the ills of Kenya. He shares with us his excitement over seeing a Maasai man as if the man was an exotic pet. From there we are taken to Kenya's National Museum where he views human fossils collected by Leaky. Once done there he regales us with his harrowing train ride to Mombasa and describes accidents, deaths and other uncomfortable occurrances from the train's past.
Our final destination is a refugee camp. CARE is doing its best to help the people but government corruption and other factors keep the people in a miserable condition. Suddenly Bryson's adventure is over and he slaps together this book. He could and should have done better. There isn't any true connection with the people, land or CARE workers other than the superficial meetings. In fact Bryson's ignorance about the "Dark" continent seems to continue throughout his trip. He could have done better and perhaps he needs to visit Africa again but this time without charitable patronage and get to meet and feel the land and its people.
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on June 26, 2006
The only thing truly wrong with this book is it is too short. As usual Bill Bryson vividly depicts the region he visits making you feel almost as if you were there. Infusing just the right amount of humor into his account of the poverty and plight of the people he visits, Bryson helps you devour this book in no time - flat.
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on June 22, 2015
Bill Bryson could write anything at all and I would read it. I bought this on sale and I was completely informed that he wrote the book as a PR piece for CARE, the charity organization. The first chapter/sample was typical wry witty Bryson writing, but the resulting chapters were not so much a travelogue for Africa, but examples of the good that CARE has done in the region and soft-pedaled pleas for donations. Evidently even the proceeds of the purchase of this book go directly to CARE. Seems admirable and the it does seem a worthy charity. About a third? of the book is an excerpt of Bryson's next book, describing the history of early English architects which I found dry and not that interesting until the final pages on the history of English furniture and the various woods used in ancient times.
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on July 18, 2013
This rather smallish book is, after reading his Ausie offering, is well done and parallels many of my own observations while traveling in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Pithy and humorous best describes Mr. Bryson's style of prose, along with a huge amount of research behind the story and subject at hand. I find the learning process, provided in Bill's books, to be very entertaining while moving along his story thread. This Diary is a fun and short read. (Hard cover)
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on July 19, 2007
This book did not have any of the comic timing I have come to expect with Bryson. It read more like a promotional pamphlet for Care Inc. I would not recommend.
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on June 27, 2014
Having travelled to Kenya fairly frequently in the last 10 years, I found this book delightful in its simplicity and accuracy of the problems facing the very poor in Kenya. Written of course with Bill Bryson's succinct humour. While the price in relation to the lack of size and volume of this book, the explanation that all funds are sent to CARE made it all worthwhile.
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on May 11, 2013
Bill Bryson is a favorite of mine and he writes this short book with great humor. He also increased my awareness of some of the problems faced by the African people. And of the people who are doing everything they can to help in practical ways. I was glad to have read it just before traveling to Kenya. I "saw" better.
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on June 10, 2014
Really it doesn't matter what Bill Bryson writes about it will be a good read. For a brief spell in this book, you will be in Africa wondering if you will ever get out, and then you learn how seriously important the charitable help for Africa is.
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on October 1, 2015
Nobody is a greater fan of Bill Bryson than I am. But this is not a book. It is an extremely short piece written to raise funds for an African charity. I have no problem with my purchase price going to an apparently most worthy charity but I do believe that Amazon should have publicized this work for exactly what it is
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