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Muddling Through Madagascar Paperback – March 16, 1998

9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Readers who have followed Murphy's adventures ( Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle ; In Ethiopia with a Mule ) know she is a dauntless traveler, unfazed by the unexpected and physically able to face rigorous conditions. But the Republic of Malagasy (Madagascar) was a challenge. Murphy and her 14-year-old daughter Rachel made their way across and around the southern two-thirds of this fabled island, finding spectacular scenery and severe erosion; there was no reliable modern communication system or transport network, and sanitary conditions were best left unmentioned. Murphy interweaves the story of their adventures with an account of the island's history and its peoples. Nominally Christian, they retain an unusual form of ancestor worship and some animalism with complex taboos ( fady ). The author found them gentle and courteous, untouched by tourism and without a work ethicnearly everything on the island appeared to be crumbling, from infrastructure to education, under Malagasy management. This is a lively tale of adventure in an exotic environment. Photos.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'A travel writer of rare heart and freshness' Observer 'Dervla Murphy belongs firmly to that fine tradition of eccentric women travellers ... endearingly self-deprecating' Spectator
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins Uk (March 16, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006550916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006550914
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #417,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Roach on December 20, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book because after visiting Madagascar and returning 5 times it is the most accurate book about what it is really like to be a guest in this beautiful country. I appreaciated the authors respect for the Malagasy people that I have come to love and admire. This is a great treatise in cross-cultural adaptation, wandering through a culture in which you have no clue what the rules and values are about.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is the second Dervla Murphy book that I've read, and I really enjoyed it. I especially loved the way that she managed to work a great deal of history and basic information in without making it seem that way. For those who haven't read it, this is the story of a trip that the author and her daughter make through Madagascar. It is funny, interesting, and fun to read. I especially appreciated the way that Murphy generally managed to avoid the condescending view of people in Third World countries that becomes so obnoxious after awhile. I also appreciated the way that she was honest about mistakes that she made and seemed quite able to laugh at her own errors. Much of the information seems accurate as well; when I was most of the way through the book I read most of another book giving a basic overview of Madagascar, its history, culture, and etc. and the majority of it fit very well with what Murphy discribes here (the differences could probably all be explained by the fact that this other book is several years newer). While I have never been to Madagascar, this book made me feel like I know it and the world a bit better.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
The author and her 14-year old daughter Rachel travel through Madagascar, (an island off the coast of East Africa), on foot, hitchhiking, by bus and by taxi. The unusual number of misfortunes besetting them had me hold my stomach with laughter, or cover my mouth in fear. -- Dervla Addict.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Super travel book about a little known island. The author is a veteran Irish travel writer who takes her teenage daughter on a hiking trip across Madagascar. This book is simply loaded with all kinds of interesting history and lore. Excellent travel writing, bibliography, map, loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first book that I read by the very peripatetic Dervla Murphy was In Ethiopia with a Mule. It is an account of her 1000-mile trip across the highlands of Ethiopia, in 1967, solo, save for the mule which carried her belonging. For many of us, that would have been THE impressive idiosyncratic achievement of a lifetime. Not so for Ms. Murphy, who sees an obscure place on the globe, and has to go there, and savor it, usually via unconventional means. I gave the Ethiopia book only a 4-star review, since I was annoyed that throughout the long journey she was incapable of loading her own mule, and always had to rely on the "kindness of strangers." That flaw in her travel mode was not present in this book... in fact, she seemed to "double down" in terms of challenges... at the age of 51, in 1983, instead of being accompanied by a mule, it was her (beloved) 14 year old daughter! Ah, that all teenagers might have such an experience.

Just the first chapter, an excellent history of the island, is worth the purchase price. It was the largest fertile area of the world that was uninhabited until the arrival of Malayo-Polynesian groups around 900 AD. Various African groups came thereafter. Then the Portuguese showed up in 1500, and then the English and the French showed tepid interest for a few centuries. Only well into the 19th century did the London Missionary Society get serious in sending missionaries, who are often the advance wave of colonists, as all too many colonized have learned. In 1896 Madagascar officially became a French colony, which was its status until independence in 1960.
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