In 2002, CARE International invited Bill Bryson on an eight day trip to tour its humanitarian work in Kenya with him writing it up into this, Bill Bryson s African Diary something of a misnomer as Bryson only visits Kenya The entire proceeds of the short book will go to help the kinds of people depicted inside it and it s a wonderful read too As you would expect, the horrors of the country s widespread poverty aren t ignored as Bryson visits Kibera, a shanty town on the outskirts of Kenya s capital city Nairobi, with a population of between 700,000 and 1 million people The conditions are appalling and thousands are HIV positive and yet the place officially doesn t exist and is ignored by the Kenyan government He also visits a refugee camp where the people there This is not really a book It is Bill Bryson s Diary about his 8 day trip to Kenya with CARE international It s just 55 pages long I got it from the library due to being interested in charity work I found it odd that it was in the library in the first place as it is not for profit and all the proceeds go to CAREsurely having a copy in the library defeats this purpose. anywayContent wise, it was okay but limited The descriptions of the slums and various people Bryson met were interesting but there was not enough proper detail due to the limited writings He also describes other experiences at length e. g taking a trip on a light aircraft I found his descriptions of these experiences over dramatisedfrequently referring to the likelihood of death etc. . There was the odd swearword but for a non Christian book it wasn t t CARE, an international aid agency headquartered in the UK, asked Bill Bryson to visit their Kenyan operation and write about it Somewhere along the lines the idea changed to include publishing a book and using all profits as a donation to charity, with a small amount of the 12 cover price used for printing and distribution costs Most of the participants were volunteering their time. Sounds like a great idea, right Except, the book itself is disappointing It s a novelette It s 40 pages in an undersized book with big margins About 90% of the content is him worrying about dying in the trains, planes and automobiles that might crash along his journey Only about 10% covered actual Kenyan life and country Almost no history was included in complete contrast to the book I read prior, In a Sunburned Country It s not that it s badly written but it could have been so much bette
I feel like an asshole for not giving this stars I am an enormous Bill Bryson fan I ve read everything else he has published with the exception of Shakespeare The World as Stage which I m starting tonight Unfortunately, this sort of wasn t a Bill Bryson book It was a Bill Bryson journal entry It was only 49 pages, and because it was done for charity, it was overly sincere It almost completely lacked Bryson s signature humor He normally has such a colorful way of describing things that I even enjoyed his science book, A Short History of Nearly Everything This was like 49 pages of Kenya is a real shithole and the people need help Nevertheless, I wish I was able to give it stars, because I just like him so much, and because it is for charity So, you know, go spend the money so it goes to CARE, but don t expect to spend than an hour with it, and don t expect the kind of laughs I can s I have enjoyed reading Bryson s travel books He has a lovely sense of humor and he is knowledgeable I started reading this book looking forward to the author s impressions of Africa Actually, I was keen to see how it compares with Paul Theroux s views on the same continent But, what a disappointment First of all, it is just a diary of a few days travel in Kenya, that too just a few hundred kilometers out of Nairobi, all on the benevolence of a charity organization which hired him to write some nice propaganda material for them To call it an African Diary is misrepresentation On top of it, it is just a pamphlet running into 49 pages, but costing a whopping 11. 99 for its kindle edition In the interest of his own admiring readers, the author should have mentioned in the cover that it was a journey paid and supported by CARE, one of the many charitie This is a pretty short travelogue a week s diary written as part of an initiative from CARE to bring in visibility and focus to the enormous challenges being faced in Africa, and the stellar work that CARE and similar organisations are doing Kudos to the thought behind this initiative, inventive and world wise enough to know the innovative channels to tap to bring in the much needed publicity I m not going to be patting the backs of Bryson and the publishers too much, because no profit doesn t mean that all costs were borne by themselves CARE would have still had to pay for all the expenses of the tour and the printing costs , and the no profit tag is being applied only financially. About the book itself, it started off breezily in Bryson esque fashion, and has enough Bryson isms thrown in, in terms of facts, numbers, large picture observations, that could be me thi ↠´ Bill Bryson's African Diary í First of all, this is not a book It s a diary Bryson recounts his 8 days in Kenya with members of CARE International And that s 7 days longer than I d want to be there What a dreadful place Poverty, crime, hunger, lack of sanitation, no clean water, disease, corrupt government and a hostile climate Some of the other reviewers on Goodreads fault Bryson for not covering enough ground, but I disagree You don t need to read 300 pages to see the terrible conditions in which these people live EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES This short booklet is enough to make the point And if you read between the lines you will notice that Bryson runs us through a gamut of emotions ranging from humor before the journey, to fear about the trip, to disgust upon arrival, to sympathy when connecting with the locals, to enlightenment when he understands that the solution to the problems are within reach The Early Fall Of , Famed Travel Writer Bill Bryson Journeyed To Kenya At The Invitation Of CARE International, The Charity Dedicated To Working With Local Communities To Eradicate Poverty Around The World He Arrived With A Set Of Mental Images Of Africa Gleaned From Television Broadcasts Of Low Budget Jungle Jim Movies In His Iowa Childhood And A Single Viewing Of The Film Version Of Out Of Africa Also With Some Worries About Tropical Diseases, Insects And Large Predators But The Vibrant Reality Of ð Bill Bryson's African Diary Í Download by Ó Bill Bryson Kenya And Its People Took Over The Second He Deplaned In Nairobi, And This Diary Records Bill Bryson S Impresssions Of His Trip With His Inimitable Trademark Style Of Wry Observation And Curious Insight From The Wrenching Poverty Of The Kibera Slum In Nairobi To The Meticulously Manicured Grounds Of The Karen Blixen House And The Human Fossil Riches Of The National Museum, Bryson Registers The Striking Contrasts Of A Postcolonial Society In Transition He Visits The Astoundingly Vast Great Rift Valley Undergoes The Rigors Of A Teeth Rattling Train Journey To Mombasa And A Hair Whitening Flight Through A Vicious Storm And Visits The Refugee Camps And The Agricultural And Economic Projects Where Dedicated CARE Professionals Wage Noble And Dogged War Against Poverty, Dislocation And Corruption So disappointed in this I could see it was likely to be a puff piece for the charity in return for the junket but expected it to be leavened with the customary Bryson humour Much po faced and worthy than I thought, with all the aid recipients saintly and deserving and inspirational Also hampered with first world guilt and the western tendency to take responsiblity for everyone else Oh, we built them wells but they fell into disrepair because we hadn t instructed them in how to maintain them Endless self flagellation and castigation and resolution to do things better Oh the government in question is corrupt and siphoning off millions of dollars Why don t international bodies like the IMF step in and stop this Paternalistic and patronising, treating African nations like half wit children. This should really be Bill Bryson s Kenyan Diary, since that s the only country he visits I had been looking for this book for a while, but I didn t realize that it was a slim charity volume, with all proceeds going to CARE As such, it does its job, presenting the excellent work of CARE and other organizations in Kenya, with a dash of Bryson s signature wit It did its job, showing the country s poverty but also its beauty, and the tireless work of those who are investing in the country through model farms, microloans, and other self sufficiency projects I ll be making a donation, since I bought the book used.
About The Author
William McGuire Bill Bryson, OBE, FRS was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951 He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.In The Lost Continent, Bil