I decided that since I can't afford to actually travel I would give myself the illusion of visiting England by reading the London Times Literary Supplement. In it I found a review of this memoir, which made me wild to read it, and since I couldn't bear to wait until 2010 when it will be out in the U.S. I ordered it in August 2009 on Amazon UK. The author is a comedian but there is some grim material in here and Bussman manages the amazing trick of being both tremendously funny and deadly serious at almost the same time.
Bussman got tired of hanging around Hollywood during 2003-2006, which she calls the Golden Age of Stupid, interviewing (mostly useless) celebrities. She decides to radically change her life by following a peace negotiator (really cute--and very useful) to Uganda so she can write an article about him, but after scraping together the money for a plane ticket he doesn't show up. Not for a month or two anyway--he's now back in Hollywood. Bussman is left to kill time in a cheap Ugandan hostel, so she decides to try doing some investigative fieldwork while she waits for the chance to interview/date her negotiator. She teaches scriptwriting at an AIDs orphanage, meets numbed victims of the warlord Joseph Kony, and interviews anyone--even very scary people--who might be able to help her figure out why for 20 years the Ugandan army has been unable to prevent Kony from kidnapping children as young as four and forcing them to fight in his militia.
Being a celebrity journalist isn't completely useless preparation for her adventures. Both smug Hollywood stars and menacing army colonels become friendly and helpful after she asks her two work-saving Magic Questions--"You're in amazing shape, what's your secret?" and "We all know what you're famous for, but how does it make you feel when you're not appreciated for your inner talents?"
The peace negotiator eventually shows up, but the interview/date she hoped for doesn't work out the way she planned. The resulting book, however, is a great success. The risks she took, and her mind-blowing accounts of traipsing around Africa kept me reading into the wee hours of the night.