Publication date: March 2012
Digital Book format: PDF (Adobe DRM)
The New York Times Review: A STORY of Western Africa, in the Portuguese wilderness, in a land whose vast, crude, helpless misery makes it seem forgotten of God and be-ruined by man, is "Long Odds," by Harold Bindloss, The author remarks, in the course of the narrative, that "it is very difficult to be an optimist in Africa," and his book does not lessen that task outside of Africa. He is engrossed in the telling of the story, and so does not appear to be especially interested in the showing up of colonial methods or in drawing the attention of civilization to the burden which the white man has laid upon the shoulders of the black. But in the telling of the story, which has done remarkably well, he gives so near and intimate a view of the hot, steaming wilderness, of guarded bands of negroes pattering silently down its tracks to some trader's compound, of a few fever-stricken white men spending their lives in the endeavor to mitigate a little the consequences of commercial brutality, of the atrocities perpetrated in the name of civilization for the sake of gain, that the wickedness of it all speaks for itself. The hero of the story is an Englishman who at some previous time had been kicked out of the Colonial Service, the victim of unjust accusation. Stranded in Portuguese West Africa, he had sounded the depths of outcast degradation. Then a trader of villainous enough life himself, had offered a helping hand, and the man had pulled himself back into self-respect. The trader dies, and the Englishman, wishing to discharge his debt, promises to carry out certain restitutions toward a black woman and some black men which the trader, repenting of some of his villainies, had wished to make himself. At the same time the Englishman learns that somebody has died and left him money and that the girl to whom he had been engaged was still waiting for him. But four years of life in the wilderness had left their marks on heart and brain, and, changed man that he was, when he met his former sweetheart it took all the dogged loyalty of his nature to make a pretense of wishing to carry out their engagement. All his desires yearned toward the wilderness and all his ambition was to right some of the wrongs that are being perpetrated there-desires and ambitions that were quite incomprehensible to his bride-to-be. But he went back to fulfill his promise to the dead trader, and the greater part of the book is taken up with his adventures and perils and narrow escapes in the course of this enterprise...