Newsletter 128


Dear Collector

We are particularly excited by this month’s list, which includes a wide variety of fascinating books, ranging in subject matter from Sport to African Travel & Exploration, and from Crime to Natural History & Gardening.  Here are some of the highlights:

It has never been possible to treat water in Africa with indifference.  The precious substance is either alarmingly scarce, as in drought-stricken South Africa at present, or apparently inexhaustible, as in the great Congo and Nile rivers.  The residents of Barotseland in western Zambia live in a watery world.  Their Lituka, or ruler, was at one time the great Lewanika, noted for his courteous treatment of European visitors and clemency towards vanquished enemies.  D. W. Stirke writes in Barotseland: Eight Years among the Barotse, that Lewanika “had a hold on his people that no Murotse chief will ever have again.  He will, for generations, be remembered as the chief who did most for the improvement and consolidation of his people.  Lewanika travelled to England for the late King Edward’s coronation, and it was always a great delight to him to talk about the friends he made and the sights he saw while going to, staying in, and returning from England.”  We have Stirke’s uncommon work on the king and his people in this month’s list.

The sources and connections between the great African rivers were the subject of many nineteenth-century expeditions.  Livingstone, for example, set out to prove that the Lualaba was in fact the Nile.  He was unsuccessful in this endeavour, but the man who did solve the mystery of the Lualaba’s identity was Verney Lovett Cameron.  This month, we have his Across Africa, with its excellent map.  As Thomas Pakenham notes in The Scramble for Africa, Cameron became “the first European ever to cross south Central Africa from east to west.”  In the course of his arduous journey, “he discovered [what] would have been a crushing blow to Livingstone.  For all the evidence showed that the Lualaba was the Congo, not the Nile.  Yet Cameron believed that the unknown source of the Congo was in fact the greatest of all Livingstone’s discoveries.”

Fires are a continual threat when the veld is tinder dry.  Such fires have even been used as weapons of war, as recorded in Major D. Tyrie Laing’s The Matabele Rebellion, 1896.  The author, who commanded the Belingwe garrison, relates how the Matabele set fire to the bush in an effort to defeat his force.  A firebreak was hastily burned, one hundred yards beyond the laager.  “This was accomplished not a moment too soon, and a roaring mass of flames about three miles long, twenty yards broad, and three feet high swept past our position with a noise like a river in flood. … Every one knew we had had one of the narrowest escapes possible.”  Laing’s sought-after account features in this month’s Military History section.

Desert and semi-desert areas are vividly portrayed in Southern Africa’s Beautiful Deserts, The Big Picture, illustrated with photographs by Heinrich, Philip & Ingrid van den Berg.  The authors are Gordon & Cherie Maclean.  Gordon Maclean will be remembered as the longtime editor of Roberts’ Birds of Southern Africa, and as a leading expert on arid ecosystems in general, and the Sociable Weaver in particular.  This month we have a beautiful collectors’ edition of Southern Africa’s Beautiful Deserts, signed by the authors and photographers.

Further highlights to look out for this month include Callaway’s The Religious System of the Amazulu, S. P. Olivier’s Die Pioniertrekke na Gazaland, Major Henry Stabb’s diary, To the Victoria Falls via Matabeleland, Pieter W. Grobbelaar’s Kommandeer! Kommandeer!: Volksang uit die Anglo-Boereoorlog, T. D. Guernsey’s A Prospector’s Guide to Mineral Occurrences in Northern Rhodesia, J. E. Burrows’s Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies, several books on South Africa’s political history, as well as Crusader Rugby Club 1887 – 2012, and Vrystaaat! 100 jaar van hardlooprugby.  We trust that we have found something for you.  Here is the link:

Best wishes
Lindsay and Wendy

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