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In 1987, Paul Morris went to Angola as a reluctant conscript soldier, where he experienced the fear and filth of war. Twenty-five years later, in 2012, Paul returned to Angola, and embarked on a 1500-kilometre cycle trip, solo and unsupported, across the country. His purpose was to see Angola in peacetime, to replace the war map in his mind with a more contemporary peace map, to exorcise the ghosts of war once and for all.

Shifting skilfully between present and past, Back to Angola chronicles Paul’s epic journey, from Cuito Cuanavale to the remnants of his unit’s base in northern Namibia, and vividly recreates his experiences as a young soldier caught up in a war in a foreign land. 

Along the way, the book provides thought-provoking reflections on childhood, masculinity, violence, trauma and friendship.

Back to Angola is an honest, intelligent and deeply moving account of war and its effects on an individual mind, a generation of people, and the psyche and landscape of a country.

PAPERBACK, 272 PAGES

Published: May 2014

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
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N.M.
The now and here versus the then

This novel is a memoir of someone's experience, so it's my opinion that you can't say it's good or bad because it's actual. There are a bunch of things I loved about the writing:
I recall thinking at the end of one of the chapters – I think it was chapter 12, that not a lot of authors would get away with just explaining what the sky looked like on the night before they fell asleep. I had to smile. In this case, it really did empathize, the now and here versus the then – of the authors memory.
Overall, I loved the past and present comparisons in the novel. It portrays the past- and present. It’s definitely a reflection of growth. I liked how the author disputes the meaning of pilgrimage throughout the novel and how he says with finality, towards the end, that it was indeed so.

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L.E.
Good Documentation of an Ambitious Journey

Paul Morris’s ‘Back to Angola’ is a combination of stories from being in the war and a monthlong cycle tour through southern Angola and northern Namibia. The book alternates betwen these two stories, with the significance of one being used to compound the significance of the other. I did enjoy the book, however, his writing is not very prosaic, and his style can be somewhat bland and overtly simplistic. At times, it reads like a journal entry: I did this, I saw this, then this happened. There is also A LOT of emotional baggage. This is a powerful spiritual experience for the author, and he makes his feelings and emotions very explicit to the reader. I have never been at war, but Morris makes it clear that it is tremendously psychologically damaging. In short, if you have an interest in cycling touring in Africa, this book is not for you. If you are interested in military history, this book is decent. If you are interested in overcoming thhe psychological scars of being a soldier, this book is excellent.