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The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa Hardcover – September 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: ECW Press (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550226673
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550226676
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,172,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Neil Peart cycles his way through West Africa and brings us along with him, dysentery and all. The Masked Rider details his physical and spiritual journey, through photographs, journal entries, and tales of adventure. Peart's "masks" are the masks that we wear--culture, psychology, labels, expectations--and his book reveals how traveling in a very foreign land allows us to peer behind them. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"Peart's writing is lyrical and his tale poignant, fully capturing an extraordinary journey, both as a travel adventure and as memoir." —Library Journal on Ghost Rider

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Customer Reviews

His writing makes the journey come alive.
I'm a Rush fan and relate to Neil Peart after reading his first book "Ghost Rider", which I also recommend.
While reading this book I felt like I was sitting on the back of his bike with him.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Janelle W. on March 3, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am almost done with this book, but I'm very anxious to offer my opinion on it. The "Masked Rider" flows much like a long bike ride. Peart's finely crafted narrative has the quality of a personal diary. His honest depiction of the people of Africa and the members of his own small "team" of cyclists is admirable and, at times, humorous. Peart shares his thoughts on religion, philosophy, art, and humanity while pushing his bike up the nastiest of hot, dusty roads across Cameroon and other parts of western Africa. I can't say the book instills a strong desire to attempt such an arduous tour, but it does succeed in offering many memorable descriptions of African landscapes and people. Peart questions himself on a variety of moral issues, and these "inner conversations" make for some very absorbing reading. I'm sure I will revisit this book from time to time when I feel the need to travel down the road less traveled.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Arthem on March 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
I've never read a travelogue before, and doubt I will again. Nevertheless, I had to buy Neil Peart's book, since it was Neil Peart, after all.
What makes this a good read is not the "story" itself; the events are mundane despite being transplanted to Africa. The characters involved are interesting, but not fascinating. Rather, it is Peart's style and his unique perspective that bring the same value to this work that his lyrics bring to Rush's music.
I attest that you could take Neil Peart and sit him down in a Barber shop for six hours, tell him to write it up, and you would have a fascinating new book to sell.
There are a couple of standout moments, however. I agree with other reviewers that his description of meeting his wife in Paris is moving, and he conveys the emotional weight of the moment (even a priori if you don't know much about his recent tragedies). The whole scene reminds me of John Barth's TKTTTITT (which I won't spoil for you - go read The Tidewater Tales!). The genius in Peart is that he conveys, with a fairly minor story of taking a bike ride in Africa, the deep-seated impact of experience-as-reward, the point-of-the-journey-is-the-journey, and simultaneously validates Victor Hugo's statement "the answer of he who knows everything is the same as the answer of he who knows nothing: because."
The second moment of impact that I will cite is his near-transcendance at the African convent. It saddens me to no end to reflect on this moment and on Peart's ultimate rejection.
Overall, a satisfying book from an eloquent and prolific mind. A book with much more depth than you might at first realize.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Jack Fitzgerald VINE VOICE on November 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
As a longtime Rush fan, musician, writer, traveler and fledgling cyclist, I was interested in reading Neal Peart's first published novel. The transition from lyricist to prose writer can be difficult, but Peart does an excellent job. Before reading the book, I already had respect for the man, a rock and roll drummer, for going on a cycling tour in eastern Africa. I would respect anyone for undertaking such a trip, and after reading the book, I respect him even more.
Peart's language is conversational throughout most of the book, as if he's relating the events over a drink at a pub. Many of his insights probed much deeper when he explored the culture of the people of Africa in general and Cameroon in particular, offering comparisons to a previous journey he had made to west Africa.
We see the landscape through the writer's eyes as he cycles up hills and navigates dirt roads, rocks, gun-toting guards at checkpoints and the sometimes rewarding vantage points. Each village or stopping point is described and I felt as if I was part of the journey.
In addition to the daily travels, we get Mr. Peart's reactions and thoughts to people that he encountered on his travels. He does not try to gloss over personalities with stereotypes, but tries to present things as they are. Yes, the country and continent has been exploited, but there is a strong victim mentality and Peart points out that Africans themselves participated in the slave trade. All the problems of Africa did not originate from outside the country.
Yet there are also great moments of kindness experienced. The woman who says "you are welcome," the smiles from young children, or the family sharing its simple food with their guests.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By on May 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is the best "travel book" I have ever read. It is true reading joy to live vicariously through Mr. Peart's adventures while bicycling through Africa. He is a brilliant observer of human behavior, personal interactions and cultural differences. Combine this skill with his obvious mastery of prose and you end up with the unforgettable experience of reading, "The Masked Rider." Regardless of whether you are a Rush fan you will undoubtedly enjoy this book if you like great writing and the sense of "being there" as the story unfolds. Critics of Rush often point out that Mr. Peart can sometimes be "difficult" or is lacking "people skills." I have read several passages from Mr. Peart, on various Web pages, that summarize his take on such opinions: he never wanted to become famous, all he wanted was to play the drums the best he could and perfect his craft and style in percussion. He is a free-thinker, intelligent, articulate, creative and exceptionally talented as a drummer/percussionist and a writer. He doesn't try to be everybody's best friend nor does he bend to expected modes of behavior in certain situations. He is his own man. Read this book and you will gain keen insight into a remarkable person. And bicycle through Cameroon along the way!
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