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Bill Bryson African Diary
 
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Bill Bryson African Diary [Format Kindle]

Bill Bryson , Jenny Matthews
4.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

In the late 1940s and early 1950s after he became a little too saggy to fit into a Tarzan loincloth without depressing popcorn sales among cinema audiences, the great Johnny Weissmuller filled the twilight years of his acting career with a series of low-budget adventure movies with titles like Devil Goddess and Jungle Moon Men, all built around a character called Jungle Jim. These modest epics are largely forgotten now, which is a pity because they were possibly the most cherishably terrible movies ever made.

The plots seldom got anywhere near coherence. My own favorite, called Pygmy Island, involved a lost tribe of white midgets and a strange but valiant fight against the spread of Communism. But the narrative possibilities were practically infinite since each Jungle Jim feature consisted in large measure of scenes taken from other, wholly unrelated adventure movies. Whatever footage was available--train crashes, volcanic eruptions, rhino charges, panic scenes involving large crowds of Japanese--would be snipped from the original and woven into Jungle Jim's wondrously accommodating story lines. From time to time, the ever-more-fleshy Weissmuller would appear on the scene to wrestle the life out of a curiously rigid and unresisting crocodile or chase some cannibals into the woods, but these intrusions were generally brief and seldom entirely explained.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that no more than four people at a time ever paid money to watch a Jungle Jim movie. The series might well have escaped my own attention except that in about 1959 WOI-TV, a television station well known in central Iowa for its tireless commitment to mediocrity, acquired the complete Jungle Jim oeuvre and for the next dozen or so years showed two of them back to back late every Friday night. What is especially tragic about all this is that I not only watched these movies with unaccountable devotion, but was indelibly influenced by them. In fact, were it not for some scattered viewings of the 1952 classic Bwana Devil and a trip on the Jungle Safari ride at Disneyland in 1961, my knowledge of African life, I regret to say, would be entirely dependent on Jungle Jim movies.

I can't say it actively preyed on me that my impressions of Africa were based so heavily on a series of B-movies made in California more than half a century ago, but when a personable young man named Dan McLean from the London office of CARE International, the venerable and worthy charity, asked me if I would be willing to go to Kenya to visit some of their projects and write a few words on their behalf, it occurred to me that there were some gaps in my familiarity with the Dark Continent that I might usefully fill in. So I agreed.

Some weeks later, I was summoned to CARE's London offices for a meeting with Dan, his boss Will Day and a rugged and amiable fellow named Nick Southern, CARE's regional manager for Kenya, who happened to be in London at the time. We sat around a big table spread with maps of Kenya, while they outlined what they had in mind for me.

"Of course, you'll have to fly to the refugee camp at Dadaab," Will observed thoughtfully at one point. He glanced at me. "To avoid the bandits," he explained.

Dan and Nick nodded gravely.

"I beg your pardon?" I said, taking a sudden interest.

"It's bandit country all round there," Will said.

"Where?" I asked, peering at the map for the first time.

"Oh, just there," Will said, waving a hand vaguely across most of east Africa. "But you'll be fine in a plane."

"They only rarely shoot at planes," Nick explained.

This wasn't at all what I had had in mind, frankly. By way of homework, I had dutifully watched Out of Africa, from which I derived the impression that this trip would mostly take place on a verandah somewhere while turbaned servants brought me lots of coffee. I knew that we would probably visit a clinic from time to time and that someone in the party might occasionally have to shoot a charging animal, but I hadn't imagined anything shooting at me in return.

"So how dangerous is Kenya then?" I asked in a small controlled squeak.

"Oh, not at all," they responded in unison.

"Well, hardly," Will added.

"It depends on what you mean by dangerous, of course," said Dan.

"Like bleeding and not getting up again," I suggested. "Being shot and stabbed and so forth," I added.

They assured me that that only very rarely happened, and that it was nearly always one or the other. You had to be very unlucky to be shot and stabbed, they said.

"It's mostly diseases you have to worry about," Nick went on. "Malaria, schistosomiasis, trypanosomiasis."

"Rift Valley fever, blackwater fever, yellow fever," said Dan.

"Dengue fever, bilharzia--the usual tropical stuff," added Will.

But they pointed out that you can be inoculated against many of those and for the rest most people manage a more or less complete recovery, given time and a considered programme of physiotherapy. Many even walk again. I asked if there was anything else I should know.

"Well, the roads are a little dangerous--there are some crazy drivers out there," Will said, chuckling.

"But apart from that and the diseases and the bandits and the railway from Nairobi to Mombasa, there's absolutely nothing to worry about," Nick added.

"What's wrong with the railway?"

"Oh, nothing really. It's just the rolling stock is a little antiquated and sometimes the brakes give out coming down out of the mountains--but, hey, if you worried about all the things that might happen you wouldn't go anywhere, would you?"

"I don't go anywhere," I pointed out.

They nodded thoughtfully.

"Well, it'll be an adventure," Will said brightly. "You'll be fine, absolutely fine. Just check your insurance before you go."

And so it was that I became irrevocably committed to the African adventure which follows.

Saturday, September 28

We meet at the Kenya Airways check-in desk at Heathrow, the five brave souls who are to form our party from London. In addition to me and Dan, they are: David Sanderson, a thoughtful and kindly fellow who is soon to take up a post in Johannesburg as CARE's regional manager in South Africa, but joining us now in his capacity as urban specialist; Justin Linnane, an intent but amiable young maker of television documentaries who has volunteered to make a video record of the expedition; and the photographer Jenny Matthews, whose brilliant and compassionate snaps grace this volume. White-haired and sweetly unobtrusive, Jenny is easily the wonder of the lot. If you saw her in a supermarket you would take her for a schoolteacher or civil servant. In fact, for 25 years she has gone wherever there is danger--to Chechnya, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Rwanda. She is fearless and evidently indestructible. If things go bad on this trip, it is her I'll hold on to.

The first good news is that Kenya Airways has given us all an upgrade on account of our genial goodness and dapper manner, and so of course gets a glowing mention here. It is a nine-and-a-half-hour flight from London to Nairobi, and we are very pleased to pass it in comfort, with a better class of drinks and our own party packs.

An hour or so after we are airborne, by chance I come across an article in The Economist declaring Nairobi to be the new crime capital of Africa. My attention is particularly arrested by the disclosure that street children come up to cars waiting at traffic lights demanding money and if it's not given they rub balls of human excrement in the victim's face.

I share this information with my new companions and we agree that Dan, as group leader, will be our designated "rubbee" for the week. Conveniently, Dan is in the lavatory when the matter is discussed and so the motion carries unanimously. In order not to spoil his enjoyment of Nairobi we decide not to tell him of our decision until we see children advancing.

It is nighttime when we land at Jomo Kenyatta Airport and pleasantly cool. We are met by Kentice Tikolo, an immensely good-natured Kenyan lady who helps run CARE's Nairobi office and who shepherds us into waiting cabs. In Out of Africa, Nairobi was depicted as a sunny little country town, so I am disappointed to find that at some time in the past 50 or 60 years they took away that pretty scene and replaced it with Omaha, of all things. Nairobi is merely yet another modern city with traffic lights and big buildings and hoardings advertising Samsung televisions and the like. Our hotel is a Holiday Inn--very nice and comfortable, but hardly a place that shouts: "Welcome to Africa, Bwana."

"Oh, you will see plenty of Africa," Kentice assures me when we convene at the bar for a round of medicinal hydration. "We're going to show you lots of exotic things. Have you ever eaten camel?"

"Only in my junior high school cafeteria, and they called it lamb," I reply. I take the opportunity, while Dan is at the bar, to ask her about the street children I read about on the flight.

"Oh, that's the least of your worries," Kentice laughs. "Car-jackings are much worse. They can be quite violent."

"What a comfort to know."

"But don't worry," she says, laying a comforting hand on my arm and becoming solemn, "if anything goes wrong we have excellent hospitals in Nairobi."

We retire early because we have an early start in the morning. I am disappointed to find that there is no mosquito net around the bed in my room. Unaware that Nairobi is malaria-free, I slather myself with insect repellant and pass a long night sounding like two strips of parting Velcro each time I roll over in the bed and dreaming terrible dreams in which Jun...

Revue de presse

“Bryson is one of the funniest travel writers in the business.” -- The Globe and Mail

“Bryson has become an enormously popular travel writer by coming off as the most literate tour guide you’ve ever had.” -- The New York Times

“Bryson is a terrific stylist. You can’t help but enjoy his writing, for its cheer and buoyancy, and for the frequent demonstration of his peculiar, engaging turn of mind.” -- Ottawa Citizen

“Bryson is first and foremost a storyteller -- and a supremely comic and original one at that.” -- Winnipeg Free Press

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Commentaires en ligne 

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4.5 étoiles sur 5
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Bill bryson toujours formidable 26 décembre 2012
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
J adore cet livre, j avais lire beaucoup livres de cet auteur, drole et irres interessante, il nous faire voyage dans un autre monde, si tu aime le livres des voyages raconre avec l humour anglaise cest pour vous
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 Nice cause, too short 25 août 2010
Par Lola
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
By buying this book, you are actually making a donation to CARE International.
This is a nice cause which is why I'm giving it 4 stars.
However, I feel like Bill Bryson doesn't put as much effort in a book when he's not getting paid for it.
The book is merely a (small) gift to thank you for the gesture.
It is way too short and barely scratches the surface of life in Kenya.
If you'd like a (very) short glimpse of life in Kenya, this book is for you.
It brings the term "quick read" to a whole new level.
It is good, but should be longer.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 étoiles sur 5  143 commentaires
89 internautes sur 89 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 too short but fun bit of travel writing for a good cause 29 mai 2003
Par Tim F. Martin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Bill Bryson is a fantastic travel writer, and made this very very short book (only 49 pages!) still fun to read. I definitely wish it had been longer, but as all of the book's proceeds go to charity (specifically CARE, a wonderful organization that spends its money wisely and helps those in impoverished countries help themselves), I don't really mind.
The book recounts his all too brief time in Africa (eight days), where he tours the east African nation of Kenya. He visits some of the areas in Kenya in the most need of CARE's help, such as the Nairobi slum of Kibera and the eastern refugee camp of Dadaab, filled with Somali exiles. It is quite sad to read about the horrible conditions many of these people face (wait till you read about what a flying toilet is), but heart warming to see that many are still hopeful and that all is not lost. It would seem that many of these people are good people; all they need is a chance.
...it was still fun to read and parts were hilarious. I enjoyed his early thoughts on Africa, such as the initial conversations with those who convinced him to go to Africa that except for the "diseases and the bandits and the railway from Nairobi to Mombasa, there's absolutely nothing to worry about"! I enjoyed reading about that railroad, which Bryson writes has a tradition of killing passengers and has even been named the Lunatic Express, though Bryson rode it without any serious mishap. Also lots of fun to read was his arrival in Nairobi; expecting the sunny little country town in "Out of Africa," Bryson was amazed to instead find traffic, high rise buildings, bill boards - as he puts it, Omaha! His description of a harrowing single-engine plane ride was very funny as well.
A fun little book, one in you can read in an hour or two.
50 internautes sur 51 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Lacks the Usual "Bill-iance" 10 juin 2003
Par Eric Wilson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Despite the book's trim offerings, I sat in a lawn chair and decided to give Bill Bryson and CARE (a humanitarian organization) the benefit of the doubt. How can you fault a writer or publisher who decides to give up time, comfort, and potentional profit for the sake of a charitable organization?
In his vintage manner, Bryson had me laughing in the opening chapter. He pulled me into his excursion to the Dark Continent with promises of adventure. This, I thought, is pure Bill-iance--using warmth and disarming revelation to ambush me with cold, hard facts.
Quickly, the thought faded. This African diary is mild on adventure, lightly flavored with humor, and boasts only a few chunks of worthy information. It's truly the sparsest of diaries.
I applaud this book and its goals. If, however, you are looking for thirty minutes of Brysonian entertainment, this hardcover carries a hefty price for its content. Buy it, instead, as a relatively small donation to good work being done halfway around the globe.
27 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Waaaay too short, but perfect in all other respects 6 février 2003
Par Dave - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I came to Bill Bryson because "A Walk in the Woods" seemed like an interesting book. It was, too. But not as good as it turned out to be after hearing him read it. I've since bought every one of his travel books AND listened to all of them on CD. Hearing the way the Bryson reads his books will give you insights into the way that you should in turn read them: the inflection, the pace, the tone, everything.
Taking that voice to his new work made me laugh all the more, and touched me tremendously. To hear his utter despair when he's told about the bandits; or to shudder with disgust as he learns about street kids asking for money or they rub...[edited for Amazon]...in your face; or his perfect contentedness when seeing an artifact that few in the world have ever seen makes this book a classic Bryson tome. And for all the profits to go to such an organization as CARE, well, that's the icing on the cake.
I am disappointed that it was only about 50 pages, though. Not close to an hour of reading and so not enough juice. But the book, besides going to a great cause, is amazing. In 50 short pages, you'll have a clear picture of what CARE is acomplishing, you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll learn, and you'll help a worthwhile organization.
Do yourself and the world a favor: Buy this book. Then do yourself and Bill Bryson a favor: Buy the rest of his books. You won't be disappointed.
23 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 3 stars for the writing, 5 for the cause. 8 décembre 2002
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Bryson answered the call to help out the international relief organization CARE by accompanying them to Kenya and writing this brief diary. The heart he showed by volunteering (along with the publisher Broadway Books) to donate 100% of the proceeds is impressive, however, the heart he put into the writing is not so much. As always he shares his fears and shortcomings in a humorous way, but the gravity of his surroundings seemed to have moistened his wit more so than usual. He too briefly writes about a number of potentially interesting characters who would have been better served with a more thorough (and undoubtedly Bryson-esquely funny) description. This brevity neglects the human face of the very people CARE is trying to help. Nonetheless, Bryson still captivates, and though not up to par for him, this book would make a great stocking-stuffer for your favorite do-gooder and at the same time help those who need it most.
40 internautes sur 46 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Loin King 9 janvier 2003
Par "mclean207" - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I promised myself I wouldn't write a review because I work for CARE and went on the trip to Kenya with Bill Bryson. However - His undertaking was phenomenal. Breaking off from his current writing project to travel to an unknown continent for 8 days, make sense of it, write up 10,000 words ( that's how many we felt we could ask him to undertake, he actually wrote 12,000)in two weeks, and turn it round in time for a Christmas book. Admire that, but also admire the motives and the results of this short but sweet volume. There are classic Bryson moments, humour and a well structured view of a country on the verge of great change. Believe me, your ($$) is making a huge difference to people's lives. And the book on your shelf can be a gentle reminder of your generosity and compassion. Thank you Amazon and all purchasers!
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Almost since the beginning, however, the train has been known as the Lunatic Express. &quote;
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two apart, and when travelling between any two you must be escorted by a truckload of Kenyan soldiers, just in case. The camp has become essentially a city in the desert, with schools and markets and permanent habitations. It has been there so long now that a generation &quote;
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Every time you flush a toilet you use more water than the average person in the developing world has for all purposes in a day  cooking, cleaning, drinking, everything. &quote;
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