Man Magnum Magazine - Book Review - Shadows in an African Twilight

Kevin Thomas

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Man Magnum Magazine - Book Review - Shadows in an African Twilight, August 2011

When I was a boy living in South Africa, ‘the Rhodesias’ represented the Africa I craved but had seen little of. My first trip to Rhodesia was in 1966; I was so captivated I made it my second home. One reason I found his book so compelling is that I was in some of the same places and at much the same time as Kevin and can well understand the way he lived, hunter and fought.

Kevin Thomas, professional hunter and regular Magnum contributor, needs little introduction to our readers. He was born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia in 1950, and grew up in the remote and pristine Save river valley, spending most of his boyhood hunting. He was fifteen when the Rhodesian government announced UDI and had little idea of what this would bring in his life. On graduating from high school he entered the cadet game ranger scheme of National Parks & Wildlife Management and began a life of high adventure. He worked with young men who would later become wee-known as game rangers and professional hunters: Oliver Coltman, Rupert Fothergill (Operation Noah) Tommy Orford, Paul Coetsee, Mike Bromwich, Barry Duckworth, Spud Ludbrooke and many more.

Shadows is 700 pages long and covers Kevin’s life until 2008. His adventures as a game ranger were so numerous and interesting that it becomes impossible to choose examples to relate in a book review. Suffice to say, it is very well worth reading, and contains rarities such as witnessing the last ever (formerly annual) Shangaan fish drive.

By the mid 1960s, the bush was picking up, and by 1967, ZIPRA guerillas were already trying to find a way through Wanke, the Zambezi Valley and other National Parks and Controlled Hunting Areas to infiltrate the country. Game rangers were among the first civilians to become involved in counter-insurgency operations, as they knew the areas involved, were generally excellent trackers, good shots and could survive in the bush.

Around this time, when Kevin married Brenda, they lived in a tented camp on the Sapi river near its confluence with the Zambezi. He was twenty-one and she nineteen – it was to become a lifelong partnership. Much of his work, under regional warden Paul Coetsee, involved problem animal control and his adventures were many and hair-raising, especially with lions and elephants. But this book is not just about adventures – Kevin is a keen observer and constantly describes and explains various phenomena, teaching the reader much of interest about the bush and its wildlife.

Inevitably, due to his fluency in local tribal languages, Kevin became increasingly involved in counter-insurgency work, and was particularly successful with the ‘pseudo operations’ pioneered by Mike Bromwich. These involved pretending to be fellow insurgents (or sympathetic to the cause) in order to obtain information on their movements and positions. In 1974 Kevin joined the regular army and soon became a member of the newly formed Selous Scouts. This section of the book cannot be described as a ‘light read’, but it is a must read if you want to know just what a dirty business was can be and want an understanding of how complex and risky, difficult and dangerous there operations were…and how important the role of intelligence gathering.

After the war, Kevin and his family moved to South Africa, where he worked for Dr Ian Player’s Wilderness Leadership School. He went on to become a professional hunter, operating in various parts of southern Africa. The next section includes highly informative material on various game species from the biggest on down, and how to hunt them. It is filled with Kevin’s personal anecdotes, and there is a section on rifles and calibers. Kevin eventually settled in the Eastern Cape, and there are sections on hunting with dogs, and on the safaris industry in the East Cape.

In 2003 Kevin worked in the security sector in Iraq, and he describes his experiences and the characters he met during the conflict. Today he is back in the Eastern Cape and is still an active professional hunter.

In its own way, this book is Africana – it provides a partial history of wildlife management in Rhodesia as well as being the best account of the bush war I have yet read. It is wonderfully informative ‘how to’ on African hunting and, in addition to being a useful reference work, it is an exciting and intriguing read. My only criticism is that I think it should have been split into two books, one on Kevin’s bush war and Iraq experiences, and a second on his game ranging and hunting life. This massive softback sells for R300 (postage excluded) Ex-Rhodesian servicemen, civil servants and pensioners can buy it for R200, but Kevin makes that offer only once he knows who the buyer is. It can be ordered directly off his book website Kevin Thomas Website. I regret that due to pressure of work (and the length and complexity of Kevin’s story), I have been tardy in writing this review, and of the 2000 books printer, only 400 now remain, so get in quick.

Gregor Woods. Man Magnum Magazine. South Africa. August 2011.
 
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fhm3006

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I gotta have a copy !
Deffinately sounds like my type of reading.

Thank you for the post:thumb:
 

James.Grage

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Kevin

Have you read the book....

I have found that book review are hype and put together to help generate books sales.

I have bought books over the years that have received great reviews only to find them duds in my opinion. And i have bought books with poor reviews only to find them great in my opinion..

With that said what is your personal review of the book?....
 

AfricaHunting.com

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James,

Kevin Thomas is actually the Author of this book entitled Shadows In An African Twilight.

Here is a review of his book from an AH member: Shadows In An African Twilight - Great Read

Kevin shared numerous stories on AH, if you are interested they can be found by clicking here.



Brief overview of Kevin's book Shadows In An African Twilight

Book Front Cover
shadows-in-an-african-twilight-f.jpg



Here are some excerpts from the book

chapter-01.jpg


Chapter 1 - Page 26
Before the ZANLA terror gang could ignite the petrol-soaked family the dying Oberholtzer in a desperate bid to save his family crashed the vehicle through the boulders. Rapidly weakening from his mortal wounds, he managed to drive on for another 100 metres before veering off the road and overturning the vehicle.

Chapter 3 Page 84
Len, very bravely and driven by desperation for the safety of his new bride immediately attacked the lioness bare handed, at the same time shouting for Jean to exit the hut.

chapter-03.jpg


Chapter 4 Page 102
A clearly distraught Mostert then grasped my right hand and blurted out ‘Alf has just been killed by an elephant … he shot one… and then another killed him!’

Chapter 7 Page 190
The minute he had seen the insurgents, Wales had quickly turned his radio off, to avoid blowing our cover if the Fire Force commander suddenly called him. Tinarwo and TT Morrison did some slick talking while I hung onto their every word. Things seemed to be going well until a terrorist, whom we were later told was Billiards, asked who I was.

chapter-07.jpg


Chapter 11 Page 349
In tandem with the gutsy game scout’s sideways leap, the buffalo, and as it was dropping its head for the closing phase of the attack, suddenly collapsed, its forequarters going first. My last round together with all of the others that it had absorbed like blotting paper had obviously done their work.

Chapter 15 Page 428
Whilst he was doing this, I quietly nudged my tensed up client and pointed with my out-thrust chin, the lion, by then standing staring down at the grass under which his prize was hidden, suddenly belted the giraffe shoulder with an almighty downward blow of his right paw, sending a shower of grass and dust in all directions.

chapter-15.jpg


Chapter 18 Page 485
It was only after they were ordered to cut the stomach open that the grisly truth became apparent, for inside the croc, were indeed the remains of an adult African male of approximately thirty-five years old.

Chapter 20 Page 520
We were off to one side watching the exercise, when without any warning a mamba suddenly appeared from inside the dead tree. It struck the Vadoma on the face before retreating back inside the tree; ...

chapter-26.jpg


Chapter 23 Page 587
During the follow-up you will need to use solids only because the aim is to obtain maximum penetration and to break the animal down as quickly as possible, if necessary breaking heavy bones in the process, and in the event of a charge, stopping it before it closes with you. Solid bullets are designed for this kind of performance.

Chapter 26 Page 665
As the beleaguered SET fought their way on, Vehicle 1 suddenly began smoking heavily due to hits in the engine compartment, and both front tyres had been shot out. In Vehicle 3 – the main fire support platform – things were looking equally bleak, with Jacques Oosthuizen, a dedicated shooter, badly wounded and out of action.


Here is a little bit about KEVIN THOMAS, GAME RANGER, SOLDIER & HUNTER

The Author, Kevin Thomas
kevin-thomas.jpg


Kevin Thomas was born in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, in 1950. He grew up in the remote Sabi Valley where the wild environs would have an indelible effect on the rest of his life.

Upon leaving school he joined the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management where he served as a game ranger for close to six years, some of which were spent in the Zambezi Valley.

During this time he met his wife, Brenda, and due to the escalating bush war, and following a short-lived safari venture, decided to join the regular Rhodesian Army. As fate would have it, he ended up as one of the founder members of the Rhodesian Army's Selous Scouts, a formidable counter-insurgency unit.

When his career as a young soldier came to a controversial end he again took up the pastime of professional hunting and wildlife management in South Africa and Zimbabwe. More recently he worked in Iraq for two years as a Security Escort Team project lead. This is his first book.

Kevin is an accomplished hunting writer and for more than a decade now, has been a regular feature writer for African Hunter magazine. His hunting articles have also appeared in Successful Hunter.


Book Back Cover
shadows-in-an-african-twilight-b.jpg
 
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James.Grage

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Thank You Jerome

I have seen this book advertized and your giving it a good review i will look to obtain one to read and add to my library..
 
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richteb

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Another great read is the ongoing autobiograhy by Ron Thomson set in Rhodesia around the same time. Would not be suprised if these two authors new each other from their days with the Game department.

Will definetly try and get hold of Kevins book.
 

fhm3006

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I gotta have a copy !
Deffinately sounds like my type of reading.

Thank you for the post:thumb:



My copy ordered yesterday and Kevin just confirmed it has been dispatched to me!
I quote in his words: "Your book went off this morning, suitably inscribed and signed"
 

DOC-404

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My copy ordered yesterday and Kevin just confirmed it has been dispatched to me!
I quote in his words: "Your book went off this morning, suitably inscribed and signed"

..the nice thing to do,as a friend,would have been to get two copies..!
 

AfricaHunting.com

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Another great read is the ongoing autobiograhy by Ron Thomson set in Rhodesia around the same time. Would not be suprised if these two authors new each other from their days with the Game department.

richteb, Ron Thomson is a member of AH and he has also shared numerous stories on AH, if you are interested they can be found by clicking here.
 

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