Books: Beats from the Heart of Darkness

THE RIVER CONGO by Peter Forbath; Harper & Row; 416 pages; $15

Joseph Conrad described the Congo River as "an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea . . . its tail lost in the depths of the land." Peter Forbath shares Conrad's feeling for this mighty, mysterious river, which rises in southeastern Central Africa, more than 1,000 miles south of the equator and about a mile above sea level, and ends 3,000 miles later in the Atlantic Ocean. Forbath first saw the river as a journalist during the Simba uprising that bloodied...

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