Unfolding Maps


#17: The Search for Africa's Fighting Spirit – with Tim Butcher

For many years Sierra Leone and Liberia have been too dangerous to travel through. They were places of terrible violence – associated with child soldiers, prisoner mutilation and blood diamonds.

With their wars officially over, Tim Butcher set out on a journey across both countries. In this episode, he remembers this journey. It is his second appearance on Unfolding Maps. In episode 13, he talked about his book “Blood River” and his explorations through Congo, following the historic tracks of Henry Morton Stanley. This time, in Sierra Leone and Liberia, Tim followed the trail blazed by Graham Greene in 1935 and immortalized in the travel classic Journey Without Maps. Greene took 26 porters, a case of scotch, and hammocks in which he and his cousin Barbara were carried. Tim walked every blistering inch to gain an extraordinary ground-level view of a troubled and overlooked region, and he wrote a great book about it: “Chasing the Devil: The Search for Africa's Fighting Spirit”.

In this conversation, he talks about what kind of devil he chased and whether he has found the Fighting Spirit of Africa in these two war torn countries.

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#31: A World in Crisis (and what to do about it) – with Jared Diamond

What can we learn from the tribes in the rainforest of New Guinea? What are the greatest dangers facing humanity and the earth today, and how can they be overcome? These are some of the many questions we address in this conversation with a leading scientist that has been voted one of the world's top ten intellectuals by various British and American magazines and who researches and writes on just about everything that makes up human existence – think "universal genius": Jared Diamond.He studied physiology at Harvard and Cambridge and became a leading expert on the gallbladder. He is also an ornithologist, anthropologist, sociologist, evolutionary biologist, ecologist, and environmental historian with expertise in archaeology, genetics, and human disease epidemiology. He is also a professor of geography in Los Angeles.And then he is also one of the most successful authors of popular science nonfiction. His works have been translated into some forty languages, and for the world bestseller "Guns, Germs, and Steel. The Fates of Human Societies" he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1998. His other books include "Collapse. How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed", "The World until Yesterday" and his most recent work "Upheaval – How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change".For all that, Jared Diamond is not only a master of lab work and literature research, but he is and has been on the road himself all over the world (over thirty times in New Guinea alone), he is fluent in over a dozen languages ... So: more than enough material for a wide-ranging conversation about a unique scientific career – and about the world we live in.