Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Last Ivory Hunter: The Saga of Wally John by Peter Hathaway Capstick


I know. I know... I was going to do my list of disappointments for 2008 here this month however, I happened upon this and read it on a friend's recommend and man, what a good book. I am a huge fan of Capstick's books to begin with and I have been flirting with an interest in the ivory hunting trade for a while. (Conflicted beliefs about poaching and commerce and what the ivory trade actually was... ethical thing really, and only on a personal level. Anyhow...) I decided to give it a read.

The Last Ivory Hunter provides an eye witness account of an African social structure in transition. From pre world war II through the late 1970's, the tale is well told and recounts the shifts in the dark continent through the eyes of a hunter and successful business man with the flair characteristic of Peter Capstick. I read the whole thing and never wondered how I would get through it. If you're interested in subjects as diverse as bush rifles, the humor of the average tribesman, surviving a Gabon viper bite, and a bevy of other things, this book is for you. So to it then...
  • Readability - 5 of 5 - Capstick is a fantastic writer and the first person accounts the book provides, as dictated by Wally himself, are a really good read. The provide a true flavor of he man in question.
  • Subject Matter - 4 of 5 - I really enjoyed the read through this novel however I really was looking for a more in-depth account of the Ivory thing. Still in all, nothing learned is wasted and this is well taught.
  • Editing - 5 of 5 - Just well done. Read it and see...
  • Did I like the story - 4 of 5 - Like I said, great great read. Worth the time. I gave it four instead of 5 because, as I think I have implied here, if this were not so well written I would have put it down for not being what I was looking to read.

In summation then, this is book worth reading. I have yet to find a Capstick book I did not like. To be fair, you may have begun to notice a certain commonality in the books I like so that the reviews for what they are worth.

Next year, I think I will map out into some different areas and see if I can read some actual fiction and something about something other than bloodsport and militaria. Until 2009 then. Happy Holidays.

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