SAFARI: A Chronicle of Adventure by Bartle Bull
Kirkus Star

SAFARI: A Chronicle of Adventure

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A lavish, richly entertaining history of the African big-game safari. Bull, a New York attorney who has been on several safaris, clearly loves the wilderness and its beasts. ""There is nothing more complete,"" he tells us, ""than to lie awake learning the language of the bush, the low, panting grunt of lion, the sudden rush of hooves. . ."" For the most part, though, he's more concerned with hunters' exploits than with their elusive motivations. Things began in the 18th century with William Burchell, a botanist who spent four years crisscrossing South Africa, collecting 40,000 specimens. William Cornwallis Harris opened the floodgates when he read Burchell's book a few years later, realized Africa was a wildlife Eden, and organized the first safari whose sole aim was hunting. White hunters--mostly British--poured in, forming a new class of swashbuckling adventurers who could slay seven rhinos by day, then feast at night on crocodile eggs, fried locusts, elephant trunk steak, and oryx milk straight from the teat. Standouts include Frederick Selous, the cheerful, brilliant model for Rider Haggard's Alan Quartermain; Mary Kingsley, who forged a way through the bush for Victorian women; and even Teddy Roosevelt, a squinty-eyed shooter whom Bull takes to task for wanton killing. WW II brought an end to the classic safari hunt, now largely replaced by photo shoots. Bull gives a firsthand account of one such venture in Tanzania in 1987; the other intermission in his history comes when he pores over safaris in fiction and film. A juicy, beautifully crafted look at one of the peculiar offshoots of European colonialism. Bull's prose, already vivid, is enhanced by 75 full-color and 200 black-and-white photos and illustrations.

Pub Date: Nov. 22nd, 1988
Publisher: Viking