African Game Trails

by Theodore Roosevelt
Category: "Travel"
Year of Publication:1910
Date Read:12/13/1995
Notes:In April 1909, T.R. and his son Kermit arrived in Mombasa. With an entourage of 250 porters and guides, the Roosevelts spent a year snaking across British East Africa, into the Belgian Congo and back to the Nile, ending in Khartoum. This narrative is a straightforward chronicle of the trip, laced with tips on tracking and hunting African big game, and observations and opinions about Africa and its peoples. Over the course of the year, the Roosevelts collected 1,100 specimens, including eleven elephants, twenty rhinoceroses, seventeen lions, twenty zebra, seven hippopotamuses, seven giraffes, and six buffalo. African Games Trails is well-written and rolls along easily, like a good, long, after-dinner story. It is also a striking record of early 20th-century African culture and natural history. It is great fun and highly recommended for the non-squeamish.
My Rating: 9

Reviews for African Game Trails

Review - African Game Trails

After finishing LITTLE WOMEN, by Louisa May Alcott, and A WRINKLE IN TIME, by Madeleine L’Engle (both written by women about girls), I was in the mood for a man’s book. I picked AFRICAN GAME TRAILS, by Theodore Roosevelt. This is his account of an eleven-month safari in British East Africa that he took with his son, Kermit, shortly after his presidency was over. They two of them traveled with a variety of famous hunters and bagged 100s of lions, elephants, antelope and every other kind of African animal you can name. Roosevelt was something of a naturalist, and the book is full of very interesting observations on wildlife, weather and native customs. But I suspect that he was feeling guilty about the quantity of game they were killing because he repeatedly mentions that they shot nothing that wasn’t used for food, or as skins and skeletons to be sent back to American museums.

One of the more interesting aspects of the book was Teddy’s Pigskin Library. This was a collection of books that he had bound in pigskin to protect them from the rigors of the safari. There were 59 books to begin with, and more were added as the trip continued; so many, in fact, that a native porter had to be hired solely to carry the trunk that held the books. Teddy read often when at base camp, and whenever he went on a hunt he would take a volume or two in his saddlebag. He mentioned the library in a magazine article sent back to the states early in the year, and instantly received hundreds of requests for a copy of the list. There was a flurry of comments made, comparing his list with other lists of recommended reading. Teddy felt compelled to add an appendix to his book, explaining his concept of reading and book-list making. I’ve posted the list and some of T.R.’s quotes on the forums.
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