Brilliant account of Africans waging war with wildlife
Short, sharp guidance and observations from a journalist with attitude. All books available from Exclusives
IF YOU READ ONE BOOK THIS WEEK
'Save Me From the Lion's Mouth: Exposing Human-Wildlife Conflict in Africa, by James Clarke' (Struik Nature), R160
A BRILLIANT, controversial book that details the vulnerability of Africans in conflict with animals. Stocks are attacked by predators, crops trashed by elephant, hippo, baboons, locusts and other pests that leave communities starving, and a startling number of people are killed by wildlife. Very little of this is conveyed to investors in conservation and game park visitors. Clarke argues that conservation's future can only be assured with the involvement of those bearing the brunt of the turf war with wildlife.
He was one of the most admired chroniclers of the wars and revolutions of the third world. But, as Ryszard Kapuscinski: A Life by Artur Domoslawski, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Verso), sadly reveals, he was also a spook.
Writing in the London Review of Books, Neal Ascherson suggests Kapuscinski probably would never have been allowed to leave Poland had he not agreed to do intelligence work - and thus no extraordinary books like The Emperor or The Soccer War. When his intelligence file was opened after his death in 2007, it revealed he contributed almost nothing of value. He was always pleading he was too busy reporting to spy.
"But in Latin America, for example, he provided several profiles and details of figures thought to be working for the CIA," Ascherson said.
"He did this because at that point in his life - the late 1960s - he was still a damaged but loyal member of the Communist Party . . . [and] still believed - passionately, and romantically - that there was a world-struggle going on between imperialism and the working people of the poor southern continents. There was no middle ground. To miss a chance to strike against the oppressors was to take their side."
Reports on the death of American long-form and magazine journalism have been premature; the craft has a new star - John Jeremiah Sullivan. The pieces antholo-gised in Pulphead: Dispatches from the Other Side of America (Vintage) reveal an urbane preoccupation with the excesses of pop culture, but without grandstanding or dismissive snarkiness.
And he's funny. For example: "My God, there have been more tears shed on reality TV than by all the war widows of the world. Are we so raw? It must be so. There are simply too many of them - too many shows and too many people on the shows - for them not to be revealing something endemic. This is us, a people of savage sentimentality, weeping and lifting weights."
Would-be feature writers should hunt him down.
THE BOTTOM LINE
"In the case of Marilyn, people believe what they want to believe." - Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox, by Lois Banner (Bloomsbury)