Author(s): Tim Butcher
Best-selling author of Blood River, Tim Butcher, goes back for more - this time he ventures into Sierra Leone and Liberia in the footsteps of Graham Greene. Travelogue, history, audacious adventure: it's all here. For decades Sierra Leone and Liberia have been too dangerous for the outsider to travel through, bedevilled by a uniquely brutal form of violence from which have sprung many of Africa’s cruellest contemporary icons – child soldiers, prisoner mutilation, blood diamonds. Chasing the Devil tells the story of Tim Butcher's audacious expedition from Freetown at the mouth of the Sierra Leone river overland through forest-covered mountains and malarial plains to the coast of Liberia. His journey follows the route trekked by Graham Greene in 1935 and immortalised in his travel classic Journey Without Maps. As a journalist in Africa between 2000 and 2005 Tim came to know both countries well although reporting was restricted mostly to the capital cities. Now he ventures deep into areas not visited by outsiders for years, just as the terrible deadweight of conflict is being lifted. Both nations are on a developmental cusp and Tim explores whether national and international attempts to chase away the devil of war can succeed. And there are other 'devils' that he is in search of... Rural communities in both countries have a tradition of sorcery and spiritualism based around the idea of a community devil, a masked figure who comes out at night inducting adolescents into society’s ancient rules. And there are the far more sinister 'devil societies', run by local warlords like Charles Taylor, which carry out acts of ritual murder in rural Liberia today. Tim tracks down these rural devils, both good and bad, to see what role they play in these changing countries. Chasing the Devil is a dramatic travel book through one of the most fraught parts of the globe at a unique moment in its history. Weaving history and anthropology with personal narrative it is as exciting as it is enlightening.
Born in 1967, Tim Butcher has worked for the Daily Telegraph since 1990 as foreign affairs leader writer, defence correspondent and Africa Bureau Chief. He is currently living in Jerusalem where he is the Telegraph’s Middle East correspondent.