Kirkus Star


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Returning again to theme of his previous two novels, colonialism- which was floundering and foundering in By The North Gate and Something of an Achievement- has now reached an end in a small West African democracy where the French are still protecting their interests. Here, on this coastal ""fever ridden stretch"", Davina Schellman, 22, politically naive and foolishly independent, decides to defy the local (French military) authorities and cross into the back country to contact her brother. Travelling up river on a forged letter, she stays over in Sebangerisque long enough to fall in love with Landerset, an Algerian colon who is now a French Colonel. Her initiation includes more than love; she learns a good deal of the realpolitik (face, prestige, profit) behind the colonial premise. And it leads, eventually, to the long, agonized march through the bush after the native terrorist threat becomes only too real and the Marseillaise is silenced by the jungle drums... This writer is again an acute obsorber of personal weaknesses, political illusions, and national failings; he can commit genocide with a phrase; and he is a stinging satirist with an unrestricted range (the English royal family, the French Army, a UN mixed commission). All in all it is a devastating, diverting, and exciting story and one could wish it would retain the popular toehold achieved by his last book, Master of This Vessel.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 1962
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston