Another Book Review: Shadows In An African Twilight

Kevin Thomas

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Don Heath loaned me a copy of Kevin Thomas's Shadows in an African Twilight on my recent trip to Sweden to tour the Norma ammunition factory. It would be an understatement to say that getting my hands on this book was an added plus during the trip.

Kevin has written numerous articles for African Hunter in the past, and he combines a lifetime of experience with a dry sense of humour and a very light and lively style of writing that is easy to read.

When I first started leafing through Shadows in an African Twilight in Don's office, waiting for the coffee to arrive, I reflected that at over 700 pages covering three decades of an adventurous life, it would be awhile before I got around too reading the book and writing a review. I was wrong. It was too intriguing to leave on the bookshelf for long. The prolegomena read like a Who's Who of the legendary figures from the halcyon days of Rhodesia's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management, southern African professional hunters circles, and notable of the Rhodesian army, and these names come to life vividly in the ensuing pages.

Born in 1950, Kevin Thomas was privileged to have grown up in an African bush that was then as it should be without fences or conflict, other than that which is a natural part of wilderness. At the age of 17, he was successfully interviewed for one of a handful of cadet game ranger positions with Rhodesia's National Parks department. Kevin spent a number of adventurous years in National Parks, but having done his national service basic training, as the bush war intensified in the 1970's, he joined and passed the first proper selection course for the legendary Selous Scouts regiment one of the finest special forces that the world has ever seen. During the course of the war he was involved in numerous operations against insurgent forces. His account of the end day of the war and the poaching scandal that irreparably tarnished the image of the elite Selous Scouts regiment is the most accurate and unbiased I have read. Because of his National Parks background and his membership in the unit he was to become personally involved in the investigations and also personally targeted in the ensuing attempted cover-up.

Following the war, Kevin embarked on a professional hunting career in South Africa, worked for a time in the South African homeland of Ciskei, and almost as if it were obligatory wound up working for the PMC Erinys on security escort duties in Iraq. Having myself done a stint in the homeland of Bophuthatswana and then, two decades later, with the PMC Global Risk Strategies in Iraq, I found these parts of Kevin's story of special interest for the parallels.

Those 700 pages flew by, but Shadows in an African Twilight is definitely earmarked as one of the special few tat get re-read again and again. And on that note, I do have one bleat about this fine book. It is deserving of a hardcover edition, and the black and white photos that accompany the text do not do the story justice. It is certainly one of the most worthwhile books I致e read in a good number of years. I.J. Larives. African Hunter. Vol17 No4 2012.

The book along with Kevin's latest book Tracking the Memory can be ordered directly from Kevin Thomas website.
 
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