Joseph Conrad believed that Catholic, Western-oriented Poland was historically destined to be a mediator between the civilization of Europe and the barbaric hordes of Asiatic Russia. In a similar fashion, the Polish-born Ryszard Kapuscinski is ideally suited to mediate between the First World of the West and the Third World countries of Africa. Free from colonial guilt and contrition, he told his African friends: “You were colonized? We, Poles, were also! For one hundred and thirty years [1772–1918] we were the colony of three foreign powers. White ones, too.”

Like a hunter pursuing a wounded animal, he has followed the trail of blood through Africa. Frequently risking death, he’s attacked by giant roaches; is threatened by a cobra that can’t be crushed by a huge, sharp canister; suffers tuberculosis and cerebral malaria; is ambushed in northern Uganda; and nearly perishes of thirst when his truck...


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