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An American Visitor

‘The white man’s god is a lie — don’t you believe in him.’

The American visitor is Marie Hasluck, a young journalist, who comes to twentieth-century Africa armed with her idealism and a sentimental belief in the Noble Savage.

She plunges immediately into enthusiastic conflict with the Europeans there, all of whom have their own ideals of colonialism, and falls in love with one of them, an unconventional district officer named Bewsher who maintains precarious order among the natives by the sheer force of his personality. Marie finds out too late that there are no simple answers to Africa’s problems.

It is the great virtue of AN AMERICAN VISITOR that Cary proposes none. Rather, he suggests complexity, ironically denying the reader the comfort of an attitude. The measure of his success is in the extraordinary relevance today of a book written thirty years ago.


“What a really great book it is – it seems as fresh, as moving, as sad as when I first read it.”

Graham Greene

“An American Visitor has an immediacy of reference which makes it seem as if it had been written to explain recent events in the Congo, in Kenya, and in other parts of Africa.”

The New Yorker

“What is best in the book is its ring of truth. The natives and the British whites speak and act with absolute naturalness... Cary misses few of the ironies of a situation in which imperfect Christians try to perfect the savage.”

Time Magazine

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