February 04, 2010
Petzal: Robert Ruark’s Africa
By David E. Petzal
It is now 47 years since Patsy Cline’s short, sad life ended in a plane crash, and no country singer has come along to equal her. Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941, and not even the past decade’s crop of steroid-bloated imbeciles has come close to matching that record. Joe Louis hung up his gloves in 1949, having held the heavyweight title for 12 years, setting a mark that will never fall. And since 1966, when Robert Ruark’s liver disintegrated in a London hospital, no one has written half as well about Africa.
And this is why we should welcome Safari Press’ release of Robert Ruark’s Africa, which was compiled and annotated by Michael McIntosh, and originally published by Countrysport Press, in 1991. The book’s 20 chapters are collected from magazine pieces Ruark did (all sorts of magazines; not just Field & Stream), and I doubt you’ve seen any of them before. McIntosh, who is a fine writer himself, provides a little gem of an introduction to Ruark, his life and times, and comments on the chapters, which are organized into three parts: first hunts, Mau Mau years, and final years.
This book is the best writing you can find on the greatest big-game hunting in the world, and if something like that is not worth reading, my name is Peter Hathaway Capstick.
256 pps; illustrated. $35 from safaripress.com.