Ghost of Tsavo

Ghost of Tsavo

by Phillip Caputo




1898, Tsavo River Kenya, the British Empire has employed 140 workers to build a railroad bridge. The bridge's construction comes to a violent halt when two maneless lions devour all 140 workers in a savage feeding frenzy that would make headlines›and history—all over the world. Caputo's Ghosts of Tsavo is a new quest for truth about the origins of these near-mythical animals and how they became predators of human flesh.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780792263623
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Publication date: 06/28/2002
Series: Adventure Press Series
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

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Ghost of Tsavo 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
tracyfox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I put off reading Philip Caputo's Ghosts of Tsavo because it begins with a long recounting of Wayne Hosek's killing of the man-eating lions, Ghost and Darkness. Pushing further into the text, I found a wonderful stockpile of first class nature writing, safari lore, scientific examination of what exactly constitutes a species, and philosophizing on the dichotomy between the mysteries of nature and the science that seeks to explain them. The book centers on the author's quest to learn whether the maneless lions of Tsavo National Park in Kenya are, in fact, a distinct species from their plains-dwelling maned cousins. Philip Caputo makes his first journey to Tsavo with an eccentric English guide and leaves convinced the maneless lions with a taste for human flesh are the direct descendents of Paleolithic cave-dwelling lions. At the Field Museum in Chicago, he digs deeper into the research of a self-taught big cat expert (formally employed as an ornithological specimen preparer). Then he returns to Africa with a scientific research team who take a narrow view of this speculative research. The varying viewpoints, coupled with the author's near-death experience and wild ramblings induced by malaria drugs, make for a compelling story and an atmospheric introduction to East Africa's charismatic cats.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is a gigantic travelogue about Africa, not what you hope the book to be. It starts with all the interesting facts about GHOST AND DARKNESS as well as other Tsavo lions that became maneaters, then quickly dissolves into boring stories about the flora, fauna, and critters of Africa which is frankly much better done by David Attenborough or NatGeo WILD. There's no excitement here, just boring narrative. Only the beginning and end of the book are worth reading, containing interesting theories (never scientifically proven) of how and why the Tsalvo lions become maneaters. The author even ventures to educate the reader on the reasons for his agnostic views, even though he relies on the Psalms to get him through a medical crisis while in Africa. BORRRRRRING. If I want the author's views about God, I'll read the bible. He's read it, but doesn't get it. Skip this book. Read Patterson's book, THE MANEATERS OF TSAVO instead.
Guest More than 1 year ago
80% of the the book addresses lions, wildlife, Africa, history, the safaris, the science, the adventures and the interesting characters. When reading that 80%, I found myself enjoying page after page. However, the other 20% philosophically addresses such hardly-related subjects as cloning, human suffering and telephones. It was during the other 20% that I easily put the book down. In the end, I find myself knowledgeble, awed and very interested in Africa and lions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hmmm. Someone above falts Caputo for not writing like Capstick? Well, buy Capstick, for goodness sake. Caputo's body of work stands on its own without comparison to a great white hunter. This is a thoughtful and well-written piece, the best of the bunch of recent African books. It is a physical safari and an intellectual, scientific safari. Caputo pays his dues by walking the talk and his career as a novelist and journalist shows in the writing and the reporting. Capstick is great. But Capstick couldn't have written this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When Caputo describes other people's adventures he comes close to being Capstick, whom he is perhaps unconsciously imitating. Otherwise, ones gets impatient with him as he is impatient with the scientists in his company.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although lion research might not be the most important issue in the world right now, as Philip Caputo points out in this book, it certainly has it's place in the lore and appreciation of our natural world. This book expounds on a paticularly chilling leoine topic: Why do lions occasionally single us out for lunch? Are we but mere food in the eyes of the king of beasts? This book opens with an account of hunting down the largest maneating lion ever recorded. From there, it goes on and explores the subject of maneless male lions, who seem to be responsible for much of the maneating among lions. Mr. Caputo then spends most of the book describing two trips he took to Tsavo National Park in Kenya, East Africa, where the most famous account of maneating lions ever recorded took place. Other people on these trips were noted researchers from the Field Museum of Natural History (Owners of the Tsavo Maneaters) and the Lion Research institute. In the course of the book, many interesting incidents and even harrowing adventures that one might encounter when doing research in Africa are recorded. Two major schools of thought concerning Tsavo-area lions are compared and contrasted by the two different groups of researchers. Although no conclusions are drawn (Nor can they yet be drawn), enough material is presented to encourage the reader to learn more for themselves. The author takes his time to share some of his own thoughts and opinions on this subject without spending too much time discussing them. The book closes with a review of a recent paper by the Field Museum of Natural History explaining why the maneaters of Tsavo may have behaved as they did. As a person who has personally extensively researched the Tsavo Maneaters story, I can give this book a very good recommendation. It ties together almost all the research that has been done on this incident, and on maneating lions in general, in the last several years.