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The Black Nile: One Man's Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World's Longest River Hardcover – August 12, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition (1 in number line) edition (August 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021987
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,209,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Morrison and a buddy embarked from Lake Victoria with the goal of descending the Nile River to the Mediterranean Sea. This was in 2006, when civil wars in countries on their route—Uganda and Sudan—had recently subsided. So prospective dangers awaiting the travelers included river rapids, wild animals, malaria, and armed and suspicious men. Solving their first problem, obtaining a boat, the duo discover that their craft is less than seaworthy; as its woes mount, Morrison merrily narrates landings at riverside villages and bargaining for food and accommodations. When his pal has had enough of equatorial Africa and returns to America, Morrison, now boatless, presses on via barge and bus. With sympathetic acuity about the personalities, tribal societies, and mechanical ingenuity of those he encounters, Morrison crafts impressions that will teach travelogue readers much about contemporary Sudan. There’s enough amusement to balance the seriousness of politics, such that when visa problems interrupt Morrison’s journey, his audience will stay to see if he reaches the sea. Recommend this title to readers who enjoyed Tim Butcher’s Blood River (2008). --Gilbert Taylor


"Morrison's account transcends the travel genre to provide authentic and timely information on a complicated part of the world. Highly recommended." -Melissa Stearns, Library Journal

"Part travelogue, part crazy adventure tale, part political reportage . . . Morrison's African river journey is a paradoxical mixture of awe-inspiring discoveries, eye-opening human interactions and perilous escapes." -Chuck Leddy, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"An unorthodox travelogue . . . packed with illuminating, gritty detail." -Kirkus

"Dan Morrison takes the reader on an incredible journey in The Black Nile. Weaving together intense travel writing and history, he has produced a supremely entertaining work, and also an important one." -David Grann, best-selling author of The Lost City of Z and The Devil and Sherlock Holmes

"Dan Morrison is too young to have been part of the Gonzo movement. But if Hunter Thompson decided to travel the Nile, from its Ugandan source to Alexandria, encountering gun-toting whackos, crazed religious zealots, scary profiteers and a rich cast of characters in one of the world's most contested regions-well, I think he would have loved to share his trek with Morrison. Fasten your seat belts, readers!" -Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Coming Plague

"Part On the Road, part Fear and Loathing in Africa, Dan Morrison takes us with him on his journey down the Nile-teaching us, by example, to be explorers of both the world and ourselves." -Kevin Sites, author of In the Hot Zone

"The Black Nile reveals a traveler of dark humor and insight, equal parts Paul Theroux and Bill Buford." -Robert Twigger, author of Dr. Ragab's Universal Language and Angry White Pyjamas

"The only thing more vivid would be traveling the river yourself. Then again, you may be a little more skittish about contested borders, rampaging militias and tiny plank-board boats than Dan Morrison is. The Black Nile is eye- opening, breath-taking, heart-pounding and, frankly, all the adventure I'm up for now." -Ellis Henican, Fox News Channel

More About the Author

As a writer and correspondent I have barbequed with the Latin Kings street gang, shared tea and almonds with a sponsor of the Taliban, and chewed knotty stroganoff in the crumbling desert palace of a fading Maharaja. (``There is only one explanation for the rapid expansion of the British Empire,'' he told me, pointing with a manicured finger to his dining room's cracked and vaulted ceiling. ``Divine providence.'' A jungle's worth of tatty stuffed tigers looked on dubiously.)

I was at Newsday's New York City edition for seven years covering the bombast of the Rudolph Giuliani era. I later moved to South Asia, where my topics ranged from militancy in Pakistan and Afghanistan to the dying art of the hand-painted Bollywood movie poster. I reported from Egypt, Sudan, Uganda and Libya between 2005 and 2008, covering the conflict in Darfur, the looming struggle for oil in southern Sudan, Libya's bizarre attempt at glasnost, and the effects of climate change on the Nile ecosystem.

During that time I traveled down the length of the White Nile, from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea, through the entirely of Uganda, Sudan and Egypt. That six-month journey is the basis for my first book, THE BLACK NILE.

I am back in South Asia now, where I contribute articles on science and the environment to National Geographic News, a website of the National Geographic Society, and research my next nonfiction book.

Related Media

Customer Reviews

Although the journey begins in a boat, much of the narrative is off the water.
The writing is fresh, honest and novelistic, laced with pertinent history and fast-moving anecdotes.
Rob Polner
The book's core however is really a travelogue, and it moves at a swift and compelling pace.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Darren on August 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
While the book's subtitle boasts, "One Man's Amazing Journey...", a cliched line that probably should be forbidden from any future use, it is nonetheless quite accurate. Tracing the waters of the Nile from Uganda to Egypt, Morrison brings us on a journey not only across thousands of miles of Africa but also through a vast diversity of peoples and their rich and often troubled history. Weaving recent and historical events with the story of his own journey he provides an unique window onto a part of the world all too easily and often ignored. Furthermore, he casts light onto the diverse forces at play behind the conflicts that occasionally make headlines in West newspapers. What many often portray in simplistic terms as strife between Christianity and Islam, Morrison exposes as complex and fluid allegiances and schisms. Often these are less about religious differences and more about the dynamics between the wealthy and poor, those in power and those outside, competing tribes and families, and other fault lines.

The book's core however is really a travelogue, and it moves at a swift and compelling pace. The first half of the book focused largely on the interplay between Morrison and a long-time friend who has joined him on the first leg of the journey. Their procession up the Nile in their small boat delves into their personal histories, the author's work as a journalist stringer, his friend's easy life working in a resort in the United States and frequent trips to the bottom of a bottle. Unable to get a visa into Sudan, and burnt-out from the oppressive heat and relentless insects, his friend leaves Morrison midway into the narrative.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Vegas Kitten on July 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
While the book itself is a fine narrative about a man's journey through Uganda, Sudan and Egypt, one is led to expect it will be traveled by boat down the Nile. That expectation is given in the both the title and in the very beginning chapter as the author, Morrison, outlines, more than once, his plan to boat down the Nile beginning from Lake Victoria, the Nile's origin, to the Egyptian city of Rosetta where the river spills into the Mediterranean. It even seems like the majority of the trip will be spent with his friend Schon, who adds a lot of humor to the book. Yet after only about a week of rowing on a boat they purchased from a friend and a few days spent in a small village for a respite, both Schon and the boat are gone, and apparently so are all of Morrison's plans to journey down the Nile.

The rest of the book is about Morrison making his way north on anything but a boat. When he isn't on mostly undependable buses, he's encountering and recording the people of Uganda and Sudan who have been affected by the catastrophic, decades-long war and by the equally catastrophic presence of the big oil companies that forcibly destroy entire villages to make way for oil refineries. His interviews with these people are both heart-breaking and hopeful, but it took me until page 186 before it dawned on me that Morrison was never getting back on a boat again. Why did he change his mind? And why does he never tell us that he has abandoned his original plans? The rest of the book is still an interesting read, but it was a hard slog finishing it once I realized Morrison was not delivering on his promised beginning.

I'm giving the book three stars because of Morrison's excellent writing, but I do feel a little tricked by the title and will read other people's reviews before I read any of his future books.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. P. Anderson on March 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
You've got to admire the guy. Tracing the Nile, from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean, he goes through some of the most dangerous country in the world. He's also got a pretty engaging style, and certainly has some interesting stories to tell.

That said, I ended up disappointed. For one thing, he's very focused on the politics. He *is* a journalist, but I often got confused who was who, or who did what to whom, or why I should really care. When he focuses on the actual travel or the individuals he meets, the book is much more successful.

Another thing I didn't like is that he really didn't go down the Nile under his own power except for a very small section of it from Lake Victoria to Lake Kyoga, both in Uganda (a couple of days tops). The rest of the time, he's hitching rides, riding a steamer, taking a bus. Interesting in itself, but I felt a little cheated.

I guess I was expecting something along the lines of Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through The World's Most Dangerous Country, or Crossing the Heart of Africa: An Odyssey of Love and Adventure, or On the Water: Discovering America in a Row Boat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rob Polner on October 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dan Morrison takes the reader on a gripping, amusing, well-researched and ultimately profound trip on the Nile, from its Ugandan wellsprings to Alexandria. Along the way he encounters both the familiar -- a far cry from the way Westerners often depict Africa - and the dangerous: well-armed crazies, religious radicals, brash exploiters and creepy quick-buck artists. The writing is fresh, honest and novelistic, laced with pertinent history and fast-moving anecdotes. The characters are well-drawn, including that of Morrison's close friend and traveling partner, who is one part adventurer and another part cautionary straight-man. The book is visceral at times, causing me to imagine myself as an explorer. I suggest everyone take this heart-pounding trip. It is truly a great adventure, but be forewarned: It ain't Disneyland, and you're not likely to forget it.
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