FROM THE ROOF OF AFRICA by C. W. Nicol

FROM THE ROOF OF AFRICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ecology-minded Nicol, a grizzled explorer-type (veteran of several Arctic expeditions, whaling and sealing trips), served as game warden in the primitive Ethiopian Simien Mountain region during 196769. Fighting against native xenophobia, disease, loutish ignorance, bribery as a way of life, and simple insouciance, he tried hard to protect the area from poachers and other exploiters and to establish the Simien as a national park. This is his fleshed-out log of that two year experience and though marred by extraneous marginalia, it often simmers with Hemingwayesque bravura: Nicol organizing a baboon shoot, breaking an attacker's collarbones with short karate chops, giving the finger to a group of harassing villagers, talking tough about fur fanciers (""I'd like to see the old bags and tarts who buy leopard, cheetah, cerval, or tiger skin coats get their arses pinched in a leopard gin trap""). At the end, as he is leaving, driven out and discouraged, Emperor Halle Selassie decrees the Simien a national preserve, a sweet victory but only of sorts: the despoliation and waste are still continuing he reports in an epilogue; the slaughter of the Wali (the sacred wild goat) he hoped to prevent goes on. For conservationists, Afrophiles, and those who like their vicarious action exotic.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Knopf