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Dangerous Beauty: Life and Death in Africa: True Stories from a Safari Guide [Hardcover]

Mark C. Ross
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax Books (Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786866721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786866724
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.9 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,056,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 32 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
The author, Mark Ross, has lived in Kenya for over 20 years. For the last 15 years, he has been a full-time safari guide and pilot taking small groups on very up-scale and up-close looks at the famous predators of Africa and rare animals like the mountain gorillas.
I picked up this book because so many people had told me how much they had enjoyed photographic safaris to Africa. My wife is always asking me how safe I think it is. The title and subtitle of this book made me think that I might get a more objective view. Before long, my spine was tingling and my hair was standing on end. The dangers of safaris are more than you thought!
The book begins with the story of Mr. Ross escorting four people through a series of parks. Mr. Ross had arranged for special permission to take his group two days in a row to see the mountain gorillas in Uganda. The first day had gone well, and they were excited about the next day. Then on March 1, 1999, he and his safari group were among 31 people captured by Rwandan forces on an illegal incursion into Uganda looking for Tutsis to kill. Before the day was over, 16 were kidnapped and 10 died.
If scenes of violent death upset you, this book is probably not a good choice for you. Mr. Ross reports still having great trouble sleeping after this experience. The extreme part of the story is at the end of the book, so you could read up to that point and miss the worst.
The bulk of the book is taken up with recounting stories about individual safari experiences. Mr. Ross and most of his tourists are interested in seeing the African predators make and eat their kills. So you will hear about various ways that lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, and crocodiles accomplish this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wariyama pori - Swahili for wild animals... 7 Mar 2002
By "michaeleve" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
...and the immediate question this book raises is exactly who are the animals? On one level, and for about two-thirds of it, the book DANGEROUS BEAUTY is a well written, evocative retelling of the author's life as a safari guide in Kenya. His adventures and close encounters with tembo (elephant), chui (leopard) duma (cheetah) and of course simba are par for the course for someone who makes a living from tracking, studying and photographing the wild animals of East Africa's savannahs.
However, neither he nor any of the four American tourists that he took on safari to Uganda in March 1999 in search of the Mountain Gorilla could possibly have anticipated this particular wild animal encounter. The only guerillas found were near the border with Congo and were in fact machete-wielding Rwandan Hutu rebels who pounced on them and another group of mostly European tourists and promptly kidnapped 14 of them. They were bundled into the Impenetrable Forest region of Southern Uganda with no idea of what fate lay in store for them.
I remember the news stories of the events, the burnt-out vehicles and rest-huts as the first clues that something horribly wrong had happened to them; and the subsequent man-hunt by the Ugandan army. Ross's telling of the story of their capture and the cruel and senseless murder of eight members of the group is harrowing. He led five other survivors to safety. They emeged from this ordeal stunned, numb, and shocked. Ross says his relationship with Africa was changed. "The continent has always been the love of my life. Now there is trouble between us."
This gruesome lesson about man's inhumanity and capacity for violence far beyond anything in the natural world remained with Ross. Nevertheless he eventually was able to put it into perspective and still carries on with his safari's from Kenya. Here the reality is that the danger from animals rather than man remains both much more likey, and also a much more acceptable risk.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First class 16 Jan 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Africa commands the attention, curiosity, and primal emotions of most human beings. Mark Ross says that people who come to Africa to go on safari with him almost always report that for as long as they can remember they have had a deep yearning for Africa, to see the animals roaming the Serengeti as they have been doing for millions of years, and to FEEL the place where human life first emerged. The book is elegantly written -- Ross describes settings and events beautifully and meticulously but makes/allows the reader to fill in the emotional content. He recreates a perfect-pitch Africa for those of us who have been there (I once spent three weeks in Kenya and Tanzania) and also, I feel certain, for those who have never been. Ross is a trained biologist, and it shows. He delivers a deep experience of Africa's animals, geography, people, and politics -- that alone would make for a satisfying book. But the chilling beauty of this one is that, while we're immersed in our on-the-ground experience of the place, Ross also forces us to confront another question that lurks within us all: "What would it be like to experience a sudden emergency -- and how would I, personally, react?" Ross' account of the tragedy in the rain forest is riveting and sickening -- I would recommend reading that part of the book (the last 70-some pages) early in the day, not before bedtime. But its pages are hard to resist. By the end I felt like I had stalked lions in the bush (and like I knew their thoughts) and also felt personally violated, as though I'd stared down the barrel of a gun held by someone else, and then seen that someone else casually murder people I was very close with. Like the safaris he leads, Ross' book is first-class in every way. You put it down knowing that you've just spent twenty years and 322 pages with a remarkable individual. And you've learned quite a bit. If it cost $..., it would be more than worth it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sawa Sawa 18 Feb 2003
By mike - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
On January 20th, 2003 a 10 ton elephant gave chase to our Range Rover in Samburu National Park. In the days that followed I photographed rhino as I lay motionless in the grass 10 feet from the endangered animals, witnessed the birth of 3 wildebeest and the death, the same day, of 7 calves who dared venture too close to a pride of Lions in the Serengeti. Mark Ross,the author of Dangerous Beauty, was our guide, and it is hard to imagine a person more knowledgeable and passionate about the flora and fauna of Eastern Africa than him. While the book documents the depths to which man can sink, it is also a testimony to a continent and a people in grave danger from AIDS, poverty, poaching and war. Marks love of the people and wildlife of East Africa is apparent on every page.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out of Africa 16 Jan 2003
By James R. Mckinley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Mark Ross gives an excellent account of his career as a safari guide in modern Africa. The stories of his encounters with dangerous wildlife are interesting, but more entertaining are his stories of experiences with various types of clients he has guided. I have always wanted to visit Africa, and plan to as finances and the political climate permit, but for now books such as this help fill the void. Mark Ross is one of the finest writers of these so called adventure books. As you can see from the other reviews, the worst encounter Mark Ross faced is when he and several of his clients were kidnapped by a rebel army while attempting to see Mountain Gorillas. The story of his and some of his clients ultimate escape is both frightening and exhilirating. One should not focus only on the kidnapping event, as the rest of the book is equally informative and entertaining. This is truly a fine book of true life adventure.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wanted: Those who crave adventure! 7 April 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Ohio is about as far away as you can get from the adventure and danger of Africa but reading Mark Ross' book I could feel the heat,hear the sounds,see the animals, and experience the terror of the kidnapping and murders of some of his group. I literally could not put this book down. The stories of all the animals were so varied and detailed. I learned alot about the behavior of creatures we usually only see in zoos. Reading about the attack and kidnapping of the tourists kept me awake the night I read about it--it is like a horror movie, the ultimate vacation-gone-wrong. The only complaint I had about this book: I wish there were more pictures! Look for the one of Mr. Ross scratching the chin of a very large kitty--a cheetah!
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