THE BIG GAME HUNTERS by Michael Brander


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Skimpy but captivating thumbnail biographies of a score of the best big-game hunters from the late 18th to early 20th centuries. Either Brander (The Making of the Highlands, 1981) tossed out all the 90-pound weaklings or big-game hunting draws only Men with a capital M. What a crew! Consider hard-drinking, hard-riding John Pester (1778-1856), who reveled in danger as he tracked wild boar and man-eating tigers in the Indian jungle. Or William Cornwallis Harris (1807-1848), who gobbled ostrich omelettes while chasing wounded giraffes across the African veldt. Or Sir Samuel White Baker (1821-1893), ""the greatest hunter of all time,"" who battled leeches in Ceylon and slave-traders in Africa. Hardly a literary milquetoast himself, Brander pounds away at his likes and dislikes. He excoriates Roualeyn George Gordon Cumming (1820-1866) for his brutal experiments on elephants and lauds William Cotton Oswell (1818-1893) for his tenderness. American readers might be most interested by his portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, who comes off as a vigorous, grinning Wunderkind; armchair Quartermains will appreciate the extensive critical bibliography. A second-place finish in the big-game sweepstakes to Bartle Bull's far more elaborate Safari (p. 1441); nonetheless, an eyes-a-poppin' look at a long-lost world.

Pub Date: Dec. 19th, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's