African Game Trails

African Game Trails

4.2 13
by Theodore Roosevelt
     
 

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In 1909, the Smithsonian Institution commissioned ex-President Theodore Roosevelt to collect specimens of African wildlife for the National Museum. Roosevelt went to Africa with his son Kermit, several prominent naturalists, and many journalists, thereby initiating the safari industry and setting the standard for the big game hunt. Yet Roosevelt never killed for

Overview

In 1909, the Smithsonian Institution commissioned ex-President Theodore Roosevelt to collect specimens of African wildlife for the National Museum. Roosevelt went to Africa with his son Kermit, several prominent naturalists, and many journalists, thereby initiating the safari industry and setting the standard for the big game hunt. Yet Roosevelt never killed for thrills, instead hunting only specific animals in the amounts requested by the Smithsonian. Making his way from the Kenyan coast to the Upper Nile, he records his impressions of the African landscape, witnesses a traditional lion hunt by African pastoralists, and recalls his meetings with East Africans, to whom he was known as 'Bwana Tumbo (belly).'

Editorial Reviews

Dallas Morning News
[Roosevelt's] descriptions of the land, the people and the game he encountered are as colorful and readable today as they were in 1910, when this classic was originally published.
Nation
A source of constant entertainment.
The New York Times
Frequently lightened by touches of genius and always readable.
The Dallas Morning News
[Roosevelt's] descriptions of the land, the people and the game he encountered are as colorful and readable today as they were in 1910, when this classic was originally published.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815411321
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
05/01/2001
Pages:
618
Sales rank:
713,742
Product dimensions:
8.76(w) x 6.02(h) x 0.71(d)

Read an Excerpt

Theodore Roosevelt declined to run for reelection as President of the United States in 1908. Partly as a vacation, partly to avoid the press as his friend Taft set up a new administration, (and partly for self-promotion), T.R. set out for Africa to hunt big game and collect specimens for a future exposition at the Smithsonian. Scribner's magazine underwrote the trip by paying $50,000 for twelve articles. It is these articles that eventually became African Game Trails.

In April 1909, T.R. and his son Kermit arrived in Mombasa. With an entourage of 250 porters and guides, the Roosevelts spent a year snaking across British East Africa, into the Belgian Congo and back to the Nile, ending in Khartoum. This narrative is a straightforward chronicle of the trip, laced with tips on tracking and hunting African big game, and observations and opinions about Africa and its peoples, many of which are politically incorrect by today's standards. T.R. believed in the inferiority of most African peoples and recommended they be civilized by European rule.

For the most part, however, African Game Trails is a book about big game hunting. Over the course of the year, the Roosevelts collected (i.e. shot) 1,100 specimens, including eleven elephants, twenty rhinoceroses, seventeen lions, twenty zebra, seven hippopotamuses, seven giraffes, and six buffalo. This was a different era, to be sure. In a way that makes the account all the more valuable:

"Slatter and I immediately rode in the direction given, following our wild-looking guide; the other gun-bearer trotting after us. In five minutes we had reached the opposite hillcrest, where the watcher stood, and he at once pointed out the rhino. The huge beast was standing in entirely open country, although there were a few scattered trees of no great size at some little distance from him. We left our horses in a dip of the ground and began the approach; I cannot say that we stalked him, for the approach was too easy. The wind blew from him to us, and a rhino's eyesight is dull.

"Thirty yards from where he stood was a bush four or five feet high, and through the leaves, it shielded us from the vision of his small, piglike eyes as we advanced toward it, stooping and in single file, I leading. The big beast stood like an uncouth statue, his hide black in the sunlight; he seemed what he was, a monster surviving over from the world's past, from the days when the beasts of the prime ran riot in their strength, before man grew so cunning of brain and hand as to master them. So little did he dream of our presence that when we were a hundred yards off he actually lay down.

"Walking lightly, and with every sense keyed up, we at last reached the bush, and I pushed forward the safety of the double-barreled Holland rifle which I was now to use for the first time on big game. As I stepped to one side of the bush so as to get a clear aim, with Slatter following, the rhino saw me and jumped to his feet with the agility of a polo pony. As he rose I put in the right barrel, the bullet going through both lungs. At the same moment he wheeled, the blood spouting from his nostrils, and galloped full on..."

African Games Trails is well-written and rolls along easily, like a good, long, after-dinner story. It is also a striking record of early 20th-century African culture and natural history. It is great fun and highly recommended for the non-squeamish.

Meet the Author

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was a soldier, rancher, President of the United States, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and an accomplished explorer and author. His book Through the Brazilian Wilderness is also available from Cooper Square Press. H. W. Brands, the author of the bestselling Roosevelt biography T. R.: The Last Romantic, lives in Austin, Texas.

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African game trails 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Roosevelt writes in detail about his year long safari in Africa. His obsevations as a sportsman, scholar, lawmaker and gentleman are as valid now as a century ago. One of the most entertaining books about hunting. A must in an outdoorsman library.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great adventure book and a refreshing break from the oppressive regime of the political correct thought police. Hopefully we won't see the day went books like this a banned.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good look at African hunting 100 years ago from our 26 th President.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TR was a good president know lots
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I havent read it but it certianly looks like a good book to me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
?......