Although Western explorers have been drawn to the beauty and mystery of the Blue Nile since Europeans first walked along the shores of Lake Tana centuries ago, the river was never fully mapped until thirty years ago. The river' s predatory wildlife and the force of its waters are so daunting and perilous that as recently as 1962, no one had ...
Although Western explorers have been drawn to the beauty and mystery of the Blue Nile since Europeans first walked along the shores of Lake Tana centuries ago, the river was never fully mapped until thirty years ago. The river' s predatory wildlife and the force of its waters are so daunting and perilous that as recently as 1962, no one had succeeded in journeying its length by boat. But that is the goal of the expedition that renowned biographer and journalist Virginia Morell takes readers on in this extraordinary narrative: to travel the Blue Nile' s length by raft in a single, unbroken journey--from Ethiopia to the Sudan. Imbuing "Blue Nile with fascinating depth and invaluable perspective, Morell underscores her own crew' s riveting, action-packed adventure with the stories of various Nile expeditions throughout history. She also delivers a vivid portrait of the history of the people who inhabit the gorge, affording readers an unprecedented understanding of the current political unrest and a bracing account of the fierce border war being waged between Ethiopian and Eritrean military forces.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-07-23 This is a delightful and well-paced account of a National Geographic team's successful 1999 journey by raft down the length of the Blue Nile one of the two rivers of the upper Nile River from its source in Ethiopia to the Sudan border. Science magazine correspondent Morell (Ancestral Passions), whose crew was the first to descend the Nile in a single, unbroken trip, had taught school in Ethiopia during the 1970s, and she combines her love of the country with a remarkably balanced account of the Blue Nile's history. She perceptively probes the intricacies of Ethiopian culture ("Secrets, intrigues, plots and counterplots riddle every social circle, and you soon learn to not necessarily believe everything you are told"), ancient history ("For their part, the Ethiopian emperors weren't above using the Blue Nile as a weapon to turn Egypt into a desert") and politics. But Morell is most sensitive, and enlightening, on matters of race and gender. As she observes, race "was just something you had to accept: as a white person in Ethiopia, you were and are a spectacle." But she also acknowledges "how ill-prepared we were for meeting men of progress along the Blue Nile," expecting "bandits and spear-throwers, not paramedics who listened to the Ethiopian equivalent of the BBC." This is a loving and insightful description of a culture and region that has been mostly off-limits to Westerners. 16 pages of color photos. (Aug.) Forecast: Morell's previous book was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, so this one may get review attention. Boosted by advertising in National Geographic and National Geographic Adventure magazines, this book could provoke new interest in Ethiopian life and culture. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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