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Last train to Zona Verde : my ultimate African safari
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Fiction/Biography Profile
African culture
Indigenous peoples
Cross-country travel
- Africa
Time Period
-- 20th-21st century
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  Publishers Weekly Review

The dean of travel writers recoils from southern Africa's heart of darkness in this disillusioned, heartsick travelogue. Theroux (The Great Railway Bazaar; etc.) recounts his back-roads trip from Cape Town to Angola, a valedictory for happier African sojourns. There are fascinating vignettes of a fallen Eden: hunter-gatherer folkways of San Bushmen enchant him with their primeval authenticity-until he realizes they are just pantomimes for tourists; at a luxury safari camp an elephant takes its revenge for exploitation. But the main action is Theroux's gradual descent into the urban inferno. By bus and crowded cab he gravitates from the relative cleanliness and order of Namibia into Angola, a hell-hole devoid of wildlife, littered with burnt-out tanks, where sleek kleptocrats lord the oil wealth over desperate, grasping beggars. The lowest circle of the "unfixable blight" of African cities is Luanda, " and chaotic, inhospitable and expensive, grotesque and poor," a "vibration of doomsday" where children's laughter sounds "insane and chattering and agonic. an amplified death rattle." Theroux's prose is as vividly descriptive and atmospheric as ever and, though a bit curmudgeonly, he's still wide open to raw, painful interactions between his psyche and his surroundings. (May 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Following the success of the acclaimed Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and The Great Railway Bazaar , The Last Train to Zona Verde is an ode to the last African journey of the world's most celebrated travel writer.<br> <br> "Happy again, back in the kingdom of light," writes Paul Theroux as he sets out on a new journey through the continent he knows and loves best. Theroux first came to Africa as a twenty-two-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, and the pull of the vast land never left him. Now he returns, after fifty years on the road, to explore the little-traveled territory of western Africa and to take stock both of the place and of himself.<br> <br> His odyssey takes him northward from Cape Town, through South Africa and Namibia, then on into Angola, wishing to head farther still until he reaches the end of the line. Journeying alone through the greenest continent, Theroux encounters a world increasingly removed from both the itineraries of tourists and the hopes of postcolonial independence movements. Leaving the Cape Town townships, traversing the Namibian bush, passing the browsing cattle of the great sunbaked heartland of the savanna, Theroux crosses "the Red Line" into a different Africa: "the improvised, slapped-together Africa of tumbled fences and cooking fires, of mud and thatch," of heat and poverty, and of roadblocks, mobs, and anarchy. After 2,500 arduous miles, he comes to the end of his journey in more ways than one, a decision he chronicles with typically unsparing honesty in a chapter called "What Am I Doing Here?"<br> <br> Vivid, witty, and beautifully evocative, The Last Train to Zona Verde is a fitting final African adventure from the writer whose gimlet eye and effortless prose have brought the world to generations of readers.<br>
Table of Contents
1Among the Unreal Peoplep. 1
2The Train from Khayelitshap. 14
3Cape Town: The Spirit of the Capep. 40
4The Night Bus to Windhoekp. 59
5Night Train from Swakopmundp. 79
6The Bush Track to Tsumkwep. 102
7Ceremony at the Crossroadsp. 118
8Among the Real Peoplep. 134
9Riding an Elephant: The Ultimate Safarip. 160
10The Hungry Herds at Etoshap. 180
11The Frontier of Bad Karmap. 200
12Three Pieces of Chickenp. 222
13Volunteering in Lubangop. 242
14The Slave Yards of Benguelap. 268
15Luanda: The Improvised Cityp. 297
16"This is What the World Will Look Like When it Ends"p. 320
17What Am I Doing Here?p. 333
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