Published: 01/08/2013
ISBN: 9781783060528
eISBN: 9781783067923
Format: Paperback/eBook



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Having laboured as a garage mechanic, farmer, hotelier, property developer, scribbler and overlander, JAMES MARR reckons to be a jack of many trades, though a master of none. Along with his wife, and... read more

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City of Myths, River of Dreams
Overland from the Barbary Coast to the Gulf of Guinea
by James Marr

“Seen through the thick end of a schnapps bottle, the idea of driving to a music festival near Timbuktu was idiot-proof. Then dawn arrived with a clunk; West Africa? No matter where I turned, the reading was equally grim... Daniel Houghton: murdered as he begged water from a well near Simbing. Mungo Park: overcome by paranoia and slaughtered at Bussa Rapids. Gordon Laing: strangled and beheaded outside Timbuktu. Hugh Clapperton: crippled with malaria and dysentary, rotted to death. Richard Lander: sent temporarily insane and forced to consume bowls of poison by the king of Badagari.

I’d yanked my reading classes from my nose and gawped through the window. Did I really want to drive through this hell?”


In his Toyota 4x4, with his wife and two friends, James Marr heads overland in the foosteps of 18th and 19th century explorers. Along the way he loses his passport in the sand, ruptures his fuel tank, fortifies his suspension with a pair of flip-flops and ponders if, in the intervening years, West Africa has become any more hospitable. In Mali, kidnappings and rebel attacks were a portent of the conflict to come. City of Myths, River of Dreams is his fascinating story. It will appeal both to overland travellers and those with an interest in 4x4 vehicles, as well as fans of travel writing.

“Travelling through West Africa is an assault on the senses and I was motivated to try and capture the experience – and a particular moment in time,” says James Marr.

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