Books: Death Zones

AFRICAN MADNESS

by Alex Shoumatoff

Knopf; 224 pages; $18.95

African Madness is a terse testament to wanderlust. The book recounts four trips that Alex Shoumatoff, a staff writer for The New Yorker, made to that continent in 1986 and '87. As he notes in his preface, "My vision of the tropics was, and still is, largely romantic." This mood seems to represent a triumph of hope over experience. Three of the visits recorded here were prompted by somber, decidedly unromantic events. Shoumatoff went to Rwanda shortly after naturalist Dian Fossey was hacked to death with a machete in her remote mountainside...

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