by Robert Ruark
Robert Ruark was a major force as a journalist and author in the American 1940’s through the early 1960’s, but is largely forgotten today. In the early 1950’s he released a book called HORN OF THE HUNTER that chronicled one of his lifetime desires, a hunting safari in East Africa. What Africa was then is a long way from what Africa is now. This book is direct. It pulls no punches and tells it like it was. If you are squeamish, you need go no farther. If you like true adventure, roll up your sleeves and come along. The boys have packed up camp, and it’s time to go.
Ruark tells of more than just the safari in this book. He talks of his experiences in World War Two, his life as a journalist, observations on Hollywood “White Hunter” movies, and much more. A great deal of what you read feels like he’s telling you his tale as you sit with him and his guide, the celebrated Harry Selby, around a campfire while lions “whuff” in the surrounding dark. He writes of his African successes and failures, of marvelous marksmanship and foolish misses, of screams in the night and fear in the day.
Ruark is brutally honest in this book. He does not hide his ability or lack of it, and recounts every adventure with creatures from bugs to buffalo. Frightening and graphic, HORN OF THE HUNTER pulls no punches. There are many times when this story is not at all comfortable. From the heat and humidity of the days to the damp and cold of the nights, from the comedy of the camp to the courage of the bush, from glorious guts to laughable lunacy, chapter after chapter, it just gets better. And it puts Hemingway in his place: a distant second.
This is a wonderful tale of a time that is permanently gone, and a place that will never be again, but the safari still lives in Ruark’s splendid pages.
By the way, his wife went with him.
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