I love shopping at used book sales – like the ones for libraries trying to clean off some of the shelves – because there are no shortage of good finds. Whether it is at a library sale, a warehouse liquidation, or some other random used book sale, I always seem to find good deals. And that was certainly the case at the last one I attended when I found Dan Morrison’s The Black Nile: One Man’s Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World’s Longest River.
I had heard a lot of good things about The Black Nile, so I clutched it to my chest as soon as I found it for sale – I didn’t want anyone wrestling it from my kung fu action grip. I was too excited to read about Morrison’s journey from the headwaters of the Nile River to it’s mouth in the Mediterranean Sea. It sounded like a fantastic story – traveling along the river through Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt – and I was more excited to read about it than any other travel book I had recently picked up.
Overall, I quite enjoyed Dan Morrison’s account of his trip down the Nile. I thought The Black Nile was a well-written story and engaging throughout. And the people and the encounters Morrison experiences and details are definitely thought-provoking.
The one issue I had with The Black Nile was the lack of any obvious understory. For instance, like Julian Smith in his book Crossing the Heart of Africa, Morrison leaves his family for his adventure through Africa. Smith constantly went back to thoughts of his fiance, detailing how they met and their relationship developed, but Morrison did no such thing. Toward the end of the book he simply stated: “My wife was meeting me in the capital. [Cairo] It had been a long time.”
Subtley I was annoyed by Morrison’s lack of any depth in The Black Nile. I still enjoyed the book and am willing to recommend it to anyone who loves armchair travel. If you love reading about travels through war-torn countries, like the Sudan, then this could be a fantastic book for you; but expect nothing more than what is on the surface. I searched for depth, something else to create a greater story, but I couldn’t find it.