His second major venture into nonfiction (after Death in the Afternoon, 1932), Green Hills of Africa is Ernest Hemingway's lyrical journal of a month on safari in the great game country of East Africa, where he and his wife, Pauline, journeyed in December of 1933. Hemingway's well-known interest in - and fascination with - big-game hunting is magnificently captured in this evocative account of his trip. In examining the poetic grace of the chase, and the ferocity of the kill, Hemingway also looks inward, seeking to explain the lure of the hunt and the primal undercurrent that comes alive on the plains of Africa. Yet Green Hills of Africa is also an impassioned portrait of the glory of the African landscape, and of the beauty of a wilderness that was, even then, being threatened by the incursions of man.
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Hemingway's account of a Kudu hunting safari in Africa between the wars is not one of his better-known works. But his ability to let the reader experience events through Hemingway's own senses is as strong as ever. This is a mesmerising story. I found the narration a little brisk for my liking, and slowed it down with the iPod software.
Where a man feels at home, outside of where he's born, is where he's meant to go." - Ernest Hemingway
Once, when I was 11 or 12, I begged my father to take me Mule deer hunting in Utah. Growing up in the West, among a certain strata of boy, the October deer hunt was a sort of blood ritual. We would take off from school for a couple days, go into the mountains with our fathers, shoot at things, and come home.
At this time in my life, I had tremendous blood lust. I wanted to bring something down. To be at the top of the pyramid for a second. To conquer something. I wasn't at the stage where I could explore where these impulses came from. The desire to carry and shoot. The desire to kill and show off my trophy. It really was a deep thing. I think as a child, I can best explain it as some way of coming to grips with the discovery that you are no longer the center of the Universe. You have recently discovered you aren't a god. So, you act like a god. You seek to become Shiva the destroyer, the killer of groundhogs, of robins, the boy who pulls the stinger out of bees in the window.
Lucky for me, I discovered (much later in life) that my father, a veterinarian, used to steer me away from the deer. He was happy to hike, camp, and shoot with me. He understood better than I, the stage I was in. Perhaps, at 11 or 12, disappointment with not finding something to kill might serve me better than blood.
Even now as I've grown, as I read Hemingway's 'Green Hills of Africa' and I feel all of those early impulses again. After finishing this story, I did a Google search to see how much a Safari in South Africa and Zimbabwe costs now days. I know this is absurd. It is one of those things I mock and despise among the rich. Photos of the Trump boys displaying their trophies or the owner of Jimmy Johns standing under an Elephant he has recently killed makes me both angry and sad at the same time. But I STILL, emotionally, deep down find myself thinking about Hemingway and Roosevelt. Thinking about the big tests, the pursuit, the hunt, the blood. It sickens and attracts. It is visceral. I really think C. G. Poore captured it perfectly when he said this story was "about people in unacknowledged conflict and about the pleasures of travel and the pleasures of drinking and war and peace and writing."