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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazon

Must read for those interested in African agriculture, October 11, 2010

By Carl - This review is from: Surprised by Laughter (Hardcover)

As a current African agriculturalist (I currently work in rural Zambia), it is refreshing to hear a voice describing the point-of-view of the African farmer, particularly from someone who has spent such considerable amount of time on the ground as has Stephen Carr. This is by far a journey in empathy ... Mr. and Mrs. Carr's story reveals an appreciation of the challenges of life in rural Africa that shape decision-making by farmers, as evidenced by his tales of the southern Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Malawi. I would recommend this as a "must read" for those who deal at any level with agricultural policy in sub-Saharan Africa.


Here is a book about Africa by a man who has spent most of the past 58 years living and working with small scale farmers in remote rural areas which is where most of the continent’s population lives. He paints a quite different picture to the doom and gloom of so many media reports as he highlights the decency, hard work, cheerfulness and amazing resilience of Africa’s rural people. Here is a book to cheer the heart and provide insights into the realities of village life which is drawn from years of first hand experience. The book casts a different light on the lives of those who are poor in material goods but rich in community life.

"I have a knee jerk reaction to missionaries. This book is written by one. But I have to tell you I have come close to changing my tune, at least in regards to the work that Carr and his wife, Anne, did in Uganda over a period of decades. Carr's recount of his life among the rural peoples of Uganda reveals a side of Africa that we seldom hear in the main stream media. It is the sound of laughter. It is the sweat of hard work. It is the gleam of hope. Against all odds, against insurmountable difficulties and unbearable political situations the stories in this book show the bravery and determination and beauty of these people. It is a joy to read and an illumination." The greater part of our happiness or misery is caused by our disposition and not by our circumstances - Martha Washington --Sawdust Memories Online

“We ordered this book because we thought that we “ought” to read it and have found it impossible to put down. I have just finished it for the second time in a few weeks, something I almost never do. As well as being a fascinating story, “Surprised by Laughter” is beautifully written, a joy to read and a treat in store for anyone whether they have lived in Africa or not.” (from review by Mrs A.J. Davies)