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An African Trilogy: "Sand Rivers", "Tree Where Man Was Born", "African Silences" (Harvill Press Editions) [Paperback]

Peter Matthiessen
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 April 2000 Harvill Press Editions

During the 1970s and 1980s, Peter Matthiessen took part in a number of expeditions to Africa, witnessing first-hand the continent's many and diverse peoples and wildlife. The fruits of these journeys are three of the most impressive essays on the natural world of the late twentieth century.

The Tree where Man Was Born documents wild landscapes, peoples and animals, observed in a series of journeys in East Africa, from the Sudan, south through Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, exploring the Serengeti, the Maasai Mara, the Ngorongoro crater and the archaeological sites of the Rift Valley.

African Silences recounts two expeditions made to West and Central Africa, including Zaire (as it then was), Gabon and the Central African Republic.

Sand Rivers describes the Selous game reserve in Southern Tanzania, one of the largest, but least-known refuges for animals left on earth, and provides an unforgettable portrait of this area and the fierce, lonely men who created it.

These three classic works represent Matthiessen the naturalist at his finest; written an all-encompassing curiosity and knowledge that brings alive the people, places and wildlife he encounters, and updated with a new introduction by the author.

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An African Trilogy: "Sand Rivers", "Tree Where Man Was Born", "African Silences" (Harvill Press Editions) + The Snow Leopard + Shadow Country
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Press (20 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860467881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860467882
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 14.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 334,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"A profoundly moving portrait of the region... Even now, years after I first read it, The Tree Where Man was Born seems imbued with precious vision" (Jeremy Seal Sunday Times)

"The skilled naturalist writer is almost as rare as the Congo peacock or the pygmy elephant - both subjects of the quest Peter Matthiessen conducts in African Silences. 'Skilled' is almost an insulting understatement for Matthiessen's sharply captivating prose" (Gary Mead Financial Times)

"The Tree Where Man Was Born is a truly magnificent book that will be just as important 50 years from now" (Peter Farb)

Book Description

A collection of three stunning essays on Africa by Peter Matthiessen - 'beyond dispute the best nature writer working today' (Peter Farb).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great mix of human and natural history 1 Jun 2001
By A Customer
A must for all budding naturalists and those with a bad case of the travel bug.
The detail and unique observations brought out in this book, coupled with historical and scientific accuracy give the reader a real feel of trekking in wild Africa.
I am reading it for the second time and am itching to get out to East Africa to experience it myself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars foot safari. 5 May 2014
By Pat
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The descriptions śre so good i feel that Ive be on on foot safari and knis the feel of Africa.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into Africa 23 Nov 2012
By An admirer of Saul - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
"The Tree Where Man was Born", "African Silences" and "Sand Rivers" make up this superlative trilogy that easily blends zoology,ecology,anthropology,travelogue and humanity into a wonderful document of Africa.
"The Tree Where Man was Born" takes you to Kenya and tells of the changing peoples who make up and live in that region; the game reserves and the steady erosion of the old Africa with a modernisation that is out of harmony with its world,and the shrinking populations of the animals-most notably the elephant and rhinocerous for the senseless-but lucrative-market for tusk and horn.
"African Silences" sees a rather hairy journey into Zaire at the height of Mobuto's corruption,as well as Gabon and the Central African Republic, and into the vast tropical forests in an attempt to census the elephant and gorilla numbers, and the outstanding bush knowledge of the Pygmy peoples-shamefully regarded as "animals" by African's wanting to lose this link to the Africa of old.
"Sand Rivers" takes us on a foot safari through the last truly untouched by man reserve-the Selous in Tanzania-with Brian Nicholson, perhaps the last of the colonial eccentrics.
The writing is so good that you gain the full experience of the old Africa (as well as the new such as Zaire's unceasing corruption )and even if you feel a bit punch drunk at times with the naming of all the fauna and wildlife, the books are so powerful and readable and populated with the conservationists (Fossey, Leakey, Douglas Hamilton etc)and histories that you never lose interest. This is a trilogy that feeds knowledge and interest.
The tragedy is that these accounts are now for an Africa of 30 to 50 years ago that has probably disappeared for ever, which gives this book historical importance as much as anything else.
This trilogy doesn't have any of the photographs that are mentioned as being in the original publications. It didn't detract from the wonder of these books, but I would (still!) love to have seen them to compare with my minds eye.
That Matthiessen never seems to be mentioned when names for the nobel prize have been bandied about over the years is a mystery. This is truly a wonderful body of work.
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