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Paradise of Thorns

By: Hartley, Aidan

0008353964 / 9780008353964
Published 04/03/2020
United Kingdom
159 x 240 mm, 270 grams 336 pages
General (US: Trade)  Learn More

From the Samuel Johnson Prize shortlisted author, a powerful literary memoir about life in rural Nairobi, one of the last true wildernesses of the world. Aidan Hartley grew up in Kenya, moving from farm to farm across Africa with his family.

As an adult he moved to England to study, then became a war correspondent in Africa, and then, when he couldn't resist it any longer, a farmer in his own right. Aidan's farm today sits in view of the Kenyan Mountain.

His work is dosing sheep, dipping cattle, fixing machinery, responding to the night alarms of rustlers entering the valley on elephant raids.

Living here, injury means relying on a manual called Where There is No Doctor, and the home medicine chest complete with blood coagulants for gunshot wounds. Laikipia is a beautiful, wild place. Sometimes peaceful, and sometimes dangerous. It is also a landscape tragically at risk. Across the course of Aidan's life, the nature around him has changed.

The wild hunting dog, cheetah, rhinos, elephants - even the giraffe and lion - face oblivion.

Whole forests have been torn down. Kenya Mountain on the horizon is losing its tropical icefields - they will be gone in a handful of years. Paradise of Thorns is a restlessly inventive literary memoir: the story of Aidan's departure from cities and the irresistible move back to his real home.

It is part glorious testament to the extraordinary heart of rural Africa as a place which is fast becoming lost; part antidote to the false impressions imposed on the country over the years; and part adventure story of drug trade, cattle raids, gunfights, tragic losses, ambushes, posses and battles.


1DBK United Kingdom, Great Britain, 1HFGK Kenya, 3JJP c 1945 to c 2000 (Post-war period), 3JMG c 2010 to c 2020, BM Memoirs, HBG General & world history

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