Novels on Kenya/Tanzania

Jul 22nd, 2006, 02:46 PM
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Novels on Kenya/Tanzania

We are leaving in a few days for a combined Kenya/Tanzania trip and would like some advice on the best novels/nonfiction books to bring along. I like to read books when on vacation to add some color/education on the place i am visiting; culture, history, people,etc
Any thougts would be appreciated.
davez is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 03:18 PM
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Neither of these are novels per se but you might enjoy them as background ...

Into Africa by Craig Packer (1994) ... he's a wildlife biologist who is head of the Serengeti Lion Project and took over the Seronera lion research begun by George Schaller ... this book describes a trip to Tz with a couple of young researchers who are taking over part of the project. Good sections include the reminiscences about his work with lions, his time at Gombe with Jane Goodall (he and his wife were ressearchers there when the kidnappings took place), and his battles with balky jeeps, underfunding and Tz officialdom during the socialist years.

Has a wry wit and the stories about the 'ressearcher' who was making up his data while using the jeep to run freight in Serengeti, or the tale of buying a jeep in Arusha but having to pay in cash so he had to lug several million Tz shillings in small bills from the bank to the Toyota dealership are funny. As is the on-going battle with the assistant who decides to hide all the lion dung samples until she is better appreciated (or paid). Good read, especially if you want to learn a bit about lions.

A more serious book, one you might want to read ahead of time but not take with you, is Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, which I think won a Pulitzer Prize. After reading this I look at people in less-developed areas more sympathetically ... basic Q he asks is why were Spaniards with 100 men and a few dozen horses able to overcome several hundred thousand Aztecs (and extended to what conditions led to the rise of the western civilizations at the expense of more primitive ones). Or, why is the per capita income of Tanzania a few hundred dollars per year while it's 100x as much in a country like the USA? One of the best books I ever read, it really makes you think, especially if you stop by Olduvai Gorge. But it's definitely not a frothy beach book like "White Mischief" about the misbehaving Brits in pre-independent E. Africa.

Bill_H is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 04:07 PM
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Has anyone read Barefoot Over the Serengeti? I saw it at Barnes and Noble recently.
CarrieS is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 04:21 PM
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You could try 'Journey to the Jade Sea' by John Hillaby, who trekked many years ago through Kenya's northern frontier district to Lake Rudolph. Some more obvious choices might be Kuki Gallman's books ('I dreamed of Africa'), and Richard E. Leakey's 'Wildlife Wars.'

afrigalah is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 04:37 PM
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I have just finished reading a great non-fiction book called "THE FATE OF AFRICA". It gives a detailed, country by country account of just what has gone wrong in Africa since decolonization.
cruisinred is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 04:54 PM
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As with Bill, I can recommend Guns, Germs and Steel. One of the most interesting books I have read. It not about Africa alone, but I thought about it a lot while on my trip.

On my safari I read Dark Star, by Paul Theroux. It is about his travel by bus from Cairo to Capetown (incluidng a lot of comments on Kenya and TZ, where you are travelling). The author was a teacher in Malawai and Uganda in the mid-1960s. He returns to his old haunts to see whether things have improved after all these years of aid. Very well written. A cynical view of Africa, so if you are looking for something as happy as the Sound of Music, don't read this one. Highly recommended.
nhulberg is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 09:00 AM
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Coming of Age with Elephants, Joyce Poole;
A Death in Kenya, Michael Hiltzik; Shadow of Kilimanjaro, Rick Ridgeway;
My Pride and Joy, George Adamson; Dangerous Beauty, Mark Ross;
Ghosts of Tsavo, Philip Caputo;
Many of the rest of books in my library are elephant-related books, but the above are good reads.

If interested in African in general:
The Eye of the Elephant, Delia and
Mark Owens
Cry of the Kalahari, Delia and Mark
Among the Elephants, Iain Douglas-
Silent Thunder, Katy Payne
The Tsavo Story, Daphne Sheldrick


JanGoss is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 09:21 AM
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I too can recommend Guns, Germs and Steel. Now Iíll have to reread it.

There are lots of interesting biographies and wildlife books- some which I havenít read and thatís a problem as Iíve decided to cut down on book buying - but I havenít found any really good novels about East Africa. I was going to write one myself when I came across this advice: Just what I had in mind!
And it looks like a really good novel by Binyavanga Wainaina will soon appear. Hereís a short story by him: Itís a bit scatological and there are chest-beating baboons (perhaps metaphorically, or has anyone seen chest-beating baboons?) but itís tourist related, though as the story takes place on the coast there would be more of a sense of identification on Tripadvisor.

ďLeaving in a few daysĒ, itíd have to be something thatís easy to find. Iíd visit a bookshop in Nairobi or Arusha.

Safari njema
Nyamera is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2006, 01:53 PM
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The following is a link to a thread I started with the same question. Some of these other recommendations may interest you:

Kevin from California

stakerk is offline  
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