This book by French big-game hunter Edouard-Pierre Decoster is one of the most unusual hunting books I’ve ever read. Though they are presented in loosely chronological order, each chapter is a standalone vignette from the author’s forty years of hunting in Cameroon, C.A.R., Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and other parts of Africa. The stories are far more than tales of animals killed—in the tradition of Hemingway, they are poignant tales of life, death, and survival on a continent where, as one of his trackers puts it, “the earth is often the color of blood.”
Some of the stories, such as “Friends,” a tale of two lions, brought tears to my eyes. Others, like the story of Tanzanian game scout Mister Mrosso, made me laugh out loud. Beautifully written in an intelligent, literary style shot through with honesty, emotion, and nostalgia, this book is a highly rewarding read. Decoster has a way of capturing perfectly the bittersweet combination of joy and sadness that accompany a hunter’s success, the depths of the friendships that form on safari, and the tremendous hold that Africa exerts on those who are fortunate to hunt there. Breath of Africa may be one of the finest collections of stories on African hunting published in modern times. $39.95 from Safari Press: 800/451-4788; safaripress.com.–Diana Rupp
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