Modestly engaging first-hand portraits of a dozen white holdouts in black Africa—by the author of a similar, rather more vivid and timely gallery back in 1968, The Imminent Rains. First Heminway returns to a standout from the 1968 book: Latham Leslie-Moore, eccentric par excellence, who failed in the 1960s attempt to keep his privately-owned island separate from newly independent Tanganyika; here the grand old man, a close friend, is followed through his sad relocations around Africa, his temporary return to England, his health/romance problems. (After his death, Heminway learns that Latham was indeed Edward VII's bastard son—and ""I wept for an Africa that would soon forget the old man."") Another grand-old-man and personal friend is Harry Oppenheimer of South Africa's Anglo American Corporation: ""while shepherding a $10 million mining, metallurgical and industrial empire, 80 percent of whose assets lie in white supremacist South Africa, he goes on record as a foe of apartheid and a champion of multiracialism."" And there are other mostly-admiring views of: nononsense Anne Spoerry, ""underpaid, underthanked"" doctor to Kenya's tribal peoples; Dr. David Hopcraft, a rancher/ecologist fighting the desertification process that threatens Africa with vast mass starvation; wildlife filmmaker Alan Root, master of time-lapse photography and unusual angles; Gavin Lamont, the modest DeBeers geologist who unearthed Botswana's diamond mines after years of dogged perseverance; and several white hunters, all of whom have become more or less disillusioned. The only hatchet-job: Richard Leakey—who often dismissed his father Louis (""as you would someone close to you with a secret drinking problem""), who always has wanted to be a guru and ""mind bender,"" not just an explorer. And only one piece gives any substantial role to a black African: an intriguing double-portrait of the white warden of Kidepo Valley National Park and his black successor, with a fascinating piece of transcribed dialogue between them. Ranging in quality from routine to solidly informative or keenly evocative: an attractive group of closeups—but a very odd-angled, strangely unsatisfying view of today's Africa.
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