Few nature books called 'classic' are as deserving of the
appellation as this one, for no one writes about Africa with quite
the same insight and enthusiasm as Peter Matthiessen. In the 1960s,
the novelist and non-fiction writer Matthiessen travelled several
times through East Africa. He wrote about everything he saw and his
grasp of people, events, history, science, and conservation is
exceptional. From the moment he rides through Sudan in the back of
a truck (before Sudan became another example of drought and aid and
turmoil) until the slow days spent at an ancient cave in the Maasai
Mara, the book re-creates a journey away from Western life and into
the world of tribal Africa. With his sympathy for and knowledge of
the tribal peoples and the wildlife of Africa, Matthiessen has an
uncanny ability to make us see a raw and untouched landscape where
only those people who have adapted their lives to the patterns of
nature truly belong. This is a place where we are the intruder, and
it takes a rare writer to make us see it that way. On separate
trips, the American photographer Eliot Porter devoted considerable
time to the animals and humans in the same region, capturing their
intimate lives. The result, published in 1972, was deservedly
celebrated at the time. The intervening decades have seen great
changes in the East African game reserves and conservation areas,
and in our understanding of the land which has released so many
secrets about the origins of humans, but this book remains as a
testament of the importance of East Africa. (Kirkus UK)
Peter Matthiessen gives a detailed account of his travels in East
Africa from the Sudan, through Uganda and Kenya to Tanzania. He
describes the wildlife and the game reserves of the Serengeti,
Maasai Mara and the Ngorongoro Crater, and the archaeological sites
at Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli in the Rift Valley. During these
travels he meets Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton, George Adamson and
George Schaller, who all dedicated their lives to studying and
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