No Picnic on Mount Kenya: A Daring Escape, A Perilous Climb

ISBN 10: 1558218769 / ISBN 13: 9781558218765
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Synopsis: In No Picnic on Mount Kenya, Felice Benuzzi recounts one of the most bizarre and daring adventures of this century. In 1943, Benuzzi and two fellow Italian prisoners of war escaped from a British camp in equatorial East Africa with one goal to climb the seventeen-thousand-foot Mount Kenya. Filled with suspense and humor, it is an extraordinary story that has earned its place as a masterpiece.

Review: Ethiopia, 1941. Felice Benuzzi was a junior officer in the Italian Colonial Service, stationed in Addis Ababa, when the British thwarted Mussolini's ambition to build a colonial empire in East Africa. Benuzzi, along with thousands of other Italians, was captured and interned in a POW camp near the foot of Mount Kenya, where he and his countrymen languished indefinitely, waiting out the war and the desperate boredom, passivity, and isolation of prison life. "In order to break the monotony," he writes, "one had only to start taking risks again." But the isolation of the camp precluded the possibility of escape to a neutral country: "I thought, then at least I shall stage a break in this awful travesty of life. I shall try to get out, climb Mount Kenya and return here." So begins No Picnic on Mount Kenya, a first-class adventure story full of courage, humor, and exquisite detail.

Benuzzi and two fellow prisoners spent six months secretly hoarding food; sewing clothing, shoes, and tents; and scavenging for scrap metal to hammer into ice axes and crampons. After escaping, they braved the multiple risks of capture, wild animals (including elephants and rhinoceros), starvation, frigid weather, and some of the most challenging climbing conditions in Africa. The men ascended 16,300 feet to Mount Kenya's Point Lenana, hoisted a homemade flag, and then returned to the misery of the camp. Benuzzi and his comrades never cared that their freedom was fleeting: they climbed Mount Kenya to reaffirm their humanity in the face of a barbaric world war. The gallantry of this gesture sets No Picnic apart from typical mountaineering stories of risk and self reliance. --Svenja Soldovieri

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Title: No Picnic on Mount Kenya: A Daring Escape, A...
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