Today's Recommended Read: "Crazy River" by Richard Grant
Teeming with man-eating crocodiles, killer hippopotamuses and deadly diseases, the Malagarasi River in Tanzania is the title subject of Richard Grant's 2011 release "Crazy River."
And it may be among the least crazy things the British travel writer encounters on his sometimes harrowing, often hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking and always illuminating journey down what locals call "the river of bad spirits."
Subtitled "Exploration and Folly in East Africa," Grant's gritty tale begins at the tourist hot spot Zanzibar, where he hangs out in dive bars populated by big-game hunters and thieves before befriending a local golf pro -- never mind that there are no golf courses on the island.
Grant's expedition begins in earnest after he crosses the Indian Ocean aboard a ramshackle cargo boat to mainland Tanzania. After some time in the capitol Dar es Salaam, Grant makes his way to the river itself, where he dodges predators -- human and animal alike -- as he travels into war-torn Burundi and eventually Rwanda. There he comes face to face with the lasting impacts of the nation's 1990s genocide and interviews the country's dictatorial ruler before ending his journey at what many consider the true source of the Nile River.
Fantastic as a travel tome alone, "Crazy River" also offers an unflinching look at modern Africa and the result of decades of corruption and the failures of foreign intervention on its people.
If you're looking for a break from the all-too-familiar while stuck at home, "Crazy River" may just provide the escape you're seeking.