1997 1st edition; William Morrow and Company publishers, New York; hardbound in ivory and black boards with silver lettering along spine; very good condition with unmarked pages, appears unread; dust jacket quite good.
Twenty years ago, when the author and his best friend, Mike Moe, were eighteen years old, they lit out from Wyoming to explore the world. They washed up in Africa and without forethought or planning set off for the most remote place on earth they could imagine: Timbuktu.
Stopped by disease and the desert, they never reached the fabled city. Nonetheless, that first journey taught them the meaning of travel - that to be en route is more important than to arrive, that where your body has been is secondary to where your heart has gone. Fifteen years later they return to Africa, determined to reach Timbuktu. But this time they will do so by water, attempting the first descent of the Niger River. Both men are now married, their wives pregnant, their lives irrevocably altered from their days of youth. With an intuitive African guide and two companions, they search for and find the source of the Niger River high in the mountains of Guinea. The river immediately bears them into the heart of Africa, the Dark Continent; they are attacked by African killer bees, charged by hippos, stalked by crocodiles, borne over waterfalls.
They pass through villages where every female child has had a clitoridectomy; stumble upon a brotherhood of blind men living alone in the bush; dance by firelight with a hundred naked women. And yet even after successfully navigating the headwaters of the Niger, the author still has not reached the dream of his youth. He then buys a motorcycle, rides alone through the Sahara, and enters Timbuktu, the mythical city hidden in a sea of white sand. Throughout, the author interweaves the tales of his own journey with the stories of the early explorers who tried to reach Timbuktu,men of unconquerable will, vanity, and perseverance, who would die beheaded, speared, or eaten alive by illness.