National Review / Digital
The Mislaid Continent
The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari, by Paul Theroux (Houghton Mifflin, 368 pp., $27)


During his 40 years as a travel writer, Paul Theroux has specialized in journeys in unusual places, by more or less ordinary local means — trains were the favorite, but even a canoe would serve. Originally a Peace Corps teacher in Africa and by preference a loner everywhere, he has been compulsive about sensory observation and personal encounter. Romanticism, hype, and mythmaking are his bugbears.

His hard nose may have been a nuisance to people close to him, such as V. S. Naipaul, with whom he publicly feuded, but among popular authors he is perhaps the sole living champion of the full, pitiless story of the Third World’s landscape. For example, in a previous book on Africa, Dark Star Safari (2002), he made clear the horror of the prevailing deforestation.

September 2, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 16

  • Conservatives got Eisenhower wrong the first time around.
  • The frontier and its absence have both shaped the American imagination.
  • Economic growth won’t guarantee it.
Books, Arts & Manners
  • John Farrell reviews Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design, by Stephen C. Meyer.
  • David Pryce-Jones reviews Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Scott Anderson.
  • Sarah Ruden reviews The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari, by Paul Theroux.
  • Randy Boyagoda reviews The Dark Road, by Ma Jian.
  • Ross Douthat reviews Elysium.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .