Soldiers of Light by Daniel Bergner - review by Aidan Hartley

Aidan Hartley

How the West Can Win

Soldiers of Light


Allen Lane The Penguin Press 180pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

FROM THE LATE Victorian and Edwardian eras we have countless books by young English chaps recording trips to Mica. Some of these describe journevs into the interior, while others give blow-by-blow accounts of hunting safaris (With Rod and Gun in Somaliland), being what a friend of mine calls 'killographies'. They tend to be vanity-published, but you'll find plenty of examples of what I mean at the Royal Geographical Society (at least, when the Society reopens its library in forty-seven years' time). What these books have in common are throwaway observations. based as thwey are on a few months of travel and scant research, and a formula and tone that evidently provided rich material for later comedies like Carry On in the jungle ('Do you think if we throw nuts to the monkeys, they'll come?' asks the fat lady. 'Would you?' replies the white hunter).

In recent years Western journalists - usually they're Americans - have created a genre of books about Africa that constitutes a new kind of killography Either the book is the result of a first foreign posting to Africa, includes all the colour from the journalist's notes that couldn't be used

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