The Man-Eaters of Tsavo: Illustrated

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9781519434142: The Man-Eaters of Tsavo: Illustrated

The Man-Eaters of Tsavo is a book written by John Henry Patterson in 1907 that recounts his experiences while overseeing the construction of a railroad bridge in what would become Kenya. It is most widely known for recounting the story of a pair of lions that he killed, known as the Tsavo maneaters. The book describes attacks by man-eating lions on the builders of the Uganda Railway in Tsavo, Kenya in 1898 and how the lions were eventually killed by Patterson. It was remarkable that 135 people were killed by the man-eaters in less than a year before Patterson managed to kill them. Col. Patterson's 1907 book itself states that "between them (the lions) no less than 28 Indian coolies, in addition to scores of unfortunate African natives of whom no official record was kept" were killed. This lesser number was confirmed in Dr. Bruce Patterson's definitive book The Lions of Tsavo: Exploring the Legacy of Africa's Notorious Man-Eaters published by McGraw-Hill in 2004. Patterson wrote the book at the Field Museum in Chicago, where the lions are on display. He showed that the greater toll attributed to the lions resulted from a pamphlet written by Col. Patterson in 1925, stating "these two ferocious brutes killed and devoured, under the most appalling circumstances, 135 Indian and African artisans and laborers employed in the construction of the Uganda Railway."

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Review:

In 1898 John H. Patterson arrived in East Africa with a mission to build a railway bridge over the Tsavo River. What started out as a simple engineering problem, however, soon took on almost mythical proportions as Patterson and his mostly Indian workforce were systematically hunted by two man-eating lions over the course of several weeks. During that time, 100 workers were killed, and the entire bridge-building project ground to a halt. As if the lions weren't enough, Patterson had to guard his back against his own increasingly hostile and mutinous workers as he set out to track and kill the man-eaters. This larger-than-life tale forms the basis of the entertaining film The Ghost and the Darkness, but for readers who want to know the whole--and true--story, The Man-Eaters of Tsavo comes straight from the great white-hunter's mouth.

Patterson's account of the lions' reign of terror and his own subsequent attempts to kill them is the stuff of great adventure, and his unmistakably Victorian manner of telling it only adds to the thrill. Consider this description of the aftermath of an attack by the lions: "...we at once set out to follow the brutes, Mr. Dalgairns feeling confident that he had wounded one of them, as there was a trail on the sand like that of the toes of a broken limb.... we saw in the gloom what we at first took to be a lion cub; closer inspection, however, showed it to be the remains of the unfortunate coolie, which the man-eaters had evidently abandoned at our approach. The legs, one arm and half the body had been eaten, and it was the stiff fingers of the other arm trailing along the sand which had left the marks we had taken to be the trail of a wounded lion...." This classic tale of death, courage, and terror in the African bush is still a page-turner, even after all these years.

From the Back Cover:

The classic man-eating story of the lions that halted construction of a railway line an reportedly killed one hundred people, told by the man who risked his life to successfully shoot them. Considered one of the greatest man-eating sagas of all time, this book is the firsthand account of the infamous Tsavo lions. Written by the legendary officer who shot these lions and risked death several times in the attempt, this is not only the story of this breathtaking hunt, but of Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson's other adventures in the African bush.

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