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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 6/13/2003 2:21:59 AM EST
I just finished reading "The Man-Eaters of Tsavo" by Lt. Col. J.H. Patterson. Quite a story. He was the man tasked with building sections of the railroad from Mombasa to Lake Victoria, as portrayed by Val Kilmer in "The Ghost and the Darkness." The events take place mainly in the 1898-1899 period, and the book was originally published in 1907. It provided a look back at some of the attitudes then for a contrast with contemporary ideas. There are a couple of chapters that could be summed up like, "Oh, look at that! Blam! I say, that would make a smashing trophy! Blam! I think I can get both of those- Blam! Blam!" Compared with hunting methods & limits today, it seems like he charged through the jungle blasting at anything that might look good mounted. His descriptions of lion attacks gave me a real appreciation for the power of these animals, and his story of how he avoided a charging rhino after emptying his gun at it showed quick thinking in a desperate situation. There is an appendix in the book where he gives advice on outfitting for safari. His recommendation for weaponry:
"The battery, to be sufficient for all needs, should consist of a .450 express, a .303 sporting rifle, and a 12-bore shot gun; and I should consider 250 rounds of .450 (50 hard and 200 soft), 300 rounds of .303 (100 hard and 200 soft), and 500 12-bore shot cartidges of, say, the 6 and 8 sizes, sufficient for a 3-month trip."
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For a lot of ARFCOMmers that ammo wouldn't get you up to lunchtime on the first day! Today we are given a picture of British arrogance and oppression of non-whites in the colonial territories of the Empire. No doubt there was some of that, but one thing I noticed was his attitudes toward the porters and other servants that he worked with. He generally treated them as men who were hired to do a job. He learned Swahili, rather than demanding they learn English. Patterson's attitudes that came through in the book were not as racist as one would expect from that period. "The Ghost and the Darkness" is a good movie (I always liked Michael Douglas' character in it), but the movie basically covers the first 9 chapters of a 27 chapter book. Allowing for some Hollywoodizing, such as how the second lion was killed and that Patterson didn't find their den until well after both lions were killed, I'd rate the movie as a pretty good production. It whet my appetite for the book. Now, the hard part will be not going, "It didn't happen like that!" the next time we rent the movie (My wife hates sitting through military & aviation oriented movies with me!).
Link Posted: 6/13/2003 7:13:53 AM EST
I liked that movie too. I always wondered how different the real story was from what really happened. I saw a show on it on one of the cable channels once. Three things. Is it true that the lions had no mains? Also, didn't they kill one of them inside the trap (box car). Did remington really get killed?
Link Posted: 6/13/2003 8:47:31 AM EST
He wasn't specific in the book about whether they had manes. That is, he didn't mention it. I loaned it to a friend a while ago (who has departed the area), so I can't go back to the pictures. From what I recall of his photographs, I don't think they had manes. One of them was caught in the box car trap, like in the movie. The lion was trying so hard to get at the two guys in the other half of the car (They were separated by bars) that they were terrified and couldn't shoot straight. Patterson said that when the shooting started he was at his tent, which was situated at roughly a right angle from what should have been their line of fire. Bullets were whizzing around him and he had to take cover. One of the rounds inside the car damaged the gate keeping the lion in and it was able to escape. Seems like it would have been an easy shot, but... It's been a while since I've seen the movie- was Remington the hunter? Michael Douglas' character was apparently one of those composites made by the scriptwriters. That's another "not exactly like the book" thing. Overall, I enjoyed it. This man went out after animals that would have me hiding under the covers. And it's written matter-of-factly, not like he's bragging.
Link Posted: 6/13/2003 12:06:10 PM EST
[Last Edit: 6/13/2003 12:08:03 PM EST by obershutze916]
Remington was the hunter. I just don't ever remember hearing about a famous Remington being eaten by a lion. From what I remember from the documentery I saw,(and it is mentioned in at the end of the movie) That they are on display at the University of Chicago, and that they have no manes. I don't know why, but I found that point really odd. I remember that part in the box car. Your right, it would seam like an easy shot........................ I have been looking for the book "Scapegoats of the Empire". It is the book the movie Breaker Morant was based on. Another good "african movie". (I have found the book $500!!!!)
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 12:54:37 PM EST
I don't suppose the library has a copy [;)]
Link Posted: 6/14/2003 1:39:38 PM EST
You know, I haven't even tried that. I will kick myself if they have a copy. The only one I have found is in Austraila where it was written and published.
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