SNAKE MAN by Alan Wykes
Kirkus Star


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The Story of C.J.P. Ionides "" (""The Greek"") is an on-the-spot biography of a formidable Englishman whose life has been spent catching rare game and poisonous snakes in Africa. The book opens dramatically, when a mamba kills eight natives in their hut -at night, and terrorizes the village. Ionides, the Snake Man, is sent for. Accompanied by Wykes, who has come to write his biography, Ionides successfully- and scornfully- captures the snake. The book thereafter consists of such exciting actual happenings, mixed with Ionides' acid accounts- to Wykes- of his past. Most of this is lively, particularly since Ionides is a fiercely independent individualist, whose career in English Public School resembles that of a feral Stalky, and whose one-upmanship raised equal havoc in the Army (which he entered as a means of getting to Africa). His escapades hardly made him popular, but Ionides could hardly have cared less, and presently he turned up in Africa, guiding hunting parties, poaching on the side, and learning so much about natives and natural history that he was eventually made Game Ranger of the Territory. The book is filled with striking hunting scenes; encounters with charging elephants, with deadly snakes, along with accounts of Ionides' private safaris after rare okapis, bush bucks, etc. through some of the world's most terrifying terrain. The author's obvious admiration is nicely balanced by Ionides' testy temper. It provides more than an adventure story- a portrait of an astringent, enigmatic, not wholly likable but thoroughly fascinating man.

Pub Date: April 4th, 1961
Publisher: Simon & Schuster