An account of luxury-travel adventures for the well-to-do.
Serial entrepreneur Kent, who made his first score crafting bracelets from elephants’ tails, began life in colonial circumstances: his father was “a soldier of the King’s African Rifles who spoke fluent Swahili and had been trained as an administrator for the British Empire,” and his mother was a nurse and all-around I-can-manage person. Snakes, leopards, lions, rhinos, mosquito netting, polo ponies, curry luncheons—all were in a day’s work for the Kents. After the family manor was expropriated following Kenyan independence, they organized a bush tour and safari business. Abercrombie & Kent is now among the highest of the high-end outdoor luxury-tour packagers. The author writes affectingly of being an outsider in closed-off, class-ridden Britain (notably at Sandhurst, where, he writes, “my rather untamed upbringing in Africa clearly has been quite apart from the much more aristocratically polished backgrounds from whence my classmates come"). The experience, it seems, engendered in him a desire to prove his supposed betters wrong by becoming rich (“in my early thirties, I make my first million dollars"). With wealth and a growing business catering to the even wealthier, Kent becomes inclined to hobnob and name-drop; the latter part of his book is sprinkled with Burtons and Huttons and Radziwills and anonymes such as one “Big Apple Billionaire.” The best parts of the book will engage students of entrepreneurship, as Kent fearlessly leaps into action to take advantage of world events—calling on the Egyptian government after Sadat’s assassination, for instance, to ink an exclusive tourism deal.
The photographs, many mere snapshots, reinforce suspicion that this is a private memoir for distribution to family and clients that somehow escaped into the world. Of some interest to outsiders, though, for revealing that “Shanghai Peking duck is much better than Peking Peking duck” and similar arcana.