Monday, April 23, 2007

Book Circulation Day

Today, for the Book Circulation Group, I will pass on to the next reader this book: My Heart is Africa - A Flying Adventure, by Scott Griffin. Obviously I misunderstood the dust jacket in that I thought Scott was going to Africa to fly the medical personnel of the Flying Doctor Service to their various emergencies. However, as an experienced business man, he went there to organize the chaos in which the FDS found itself.

In 1996, he flew his single-engine Cessna to Kenya, where the headquarters of the organization were situated, although his wife wisely flew by commercial flight. His two years in Kenya were rather frustrating work wise, as the politics which adversely affected the funding for the FDS were never really resolved, although he was able to make some operational changes for the better. He met some very eccentric characters in Africa, crashed his plane several times, was arrested in Tanzania along with his wife and, in his tiny plane, he managed to circumnavigate the African continent, flying over mountains, deserts and jungles. His experiences gave him a feel for the great problems there but he came away with a great appreciation for and love of Africa.

I found the book quite interesting, a quick read, well enough written. However, quite early on in the book, he made a serious factual misstatement which then caused me to wonder how accurate he was with the rest of his background material.

He wrongly identified Louis and Mary Leakey as the discoverers of a fossil skull of Homo habilis in 1972 at Lake Turkana, Kenya, when it was actually their son Richard who found it. He also incorrectly called the fossil the 3 million year old Lucy, which was a more complete skeleton, was in fact Australopithecus afaransis, and was discovered by Donald Johansen in Ethopia in 1974. Lucy has always been a great interest of mine, so this was a very glaring error. As an aside, Donald Johansen wrote a fascinating book about his discovery, sadly out of print, called Lucy, the Beginnings of Mankind.

On the way to the gym, I will pick up the book, Theft, by Peter Carey, two time Booker Prize winner. It is described on Amazon.com as "a magnificent high-stakes art heist wrapped around a fraternal saga". Reviews are mixed by readers, ranging from two stars to five stars. Hmm, we shall see.

24 comments:

Lee said...

Aaah...Peter Carey...now he does cause conflicting critiques. You either love him or loathe him, I would imagine. I love him. He is so quirky...never expect the "usual" or "norm" from Carey. My first guests when I was on Newry Island were a husband and wife who had an auction house in Sydney, wherein the sold rare books, manuscripts, journals and the like of authors. They met Peter Carey. They were selling his journal notes when he was writing "Oscar and Lucinda"...they said his amount of research on glass-making was endless and precise. I asked them was Peter Carey in real life how I imagined him to be from his writing...kinda different and a wee bit crazy...very avant-garde..their answer was "Yes" to all of the above. They said he was a very interesting fellow.

jmb said...

Well in that case,Lee, I might find it interesting. I read Oscar and Lucinda, but not the Kelly gang book which I always meant to or anything else by him for that matter.
As I said, we shall see.
regards
jmb

Voyager said...

Having just come back from Tanzania a couple of months ago, I'll look for this book. And my moher used to volunteer for flying doctors. (She is a nurse).
Thanks for the tip, I'm always looking for a good read.
Voyager.

Ian Lidster said...

Don't you hate it when a book contains relatively 'glaring' errors. I am like you and it tends to cast doubts on the rest of the material. I mean, even I knew 'Lucy's' ethnicity. I blame that on sloppy editing by 'ignorant' editors, and there's a lot of that around in the publishing world today, unfortunately.

Ian

Ellee said...

I would love to read this book, I would love to be part of your reading group. How do you find time to read and write blogs?

jmb said...

Hi voyager,
I just went over to your blog and bookmarked all your Tanzania posts to read later. I'd so love to go.
I think you might find the book interesting.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi Ian,
That's what I thought when I read this error. Where the heck is the editor? Mind you why didn't he do his homework. Double check your facts before you put them out there in a book! No excuse with the lovely internet out there.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi Ellee,
I'm retired, that's how I have time to read. Well I've always been a reader, even when I was working full time. Plus reading is like a job for me, comes before a lot of other things. Too bad I don't get paid to do it.
regards
jmb

ipanema said...

I think I've read a review of this in another site. I'm familiar with his "Oscar and Lucinda".

It's great to have time to read.

jmb said...

Hi ipanema,
I enjoy reading a lot, but in this group I don't get to choose the books. The just come rolling around to me in turn.
I am hoping for the best.
regards
jmb

Donnetta Lee said...

jmb: Just saw you on Pam's blog.I noticed the picture of the little Westie, so had to come say hello. I used to raise Westies and find them such sweet spirits. I have 2-3 years to go before I can retire and READ! Til then, I read in snippits and blog a bit. Nice to visit you. Come see me sometime!
Donnetta

jmb said...

Hi Donnetta,
I loved my Westie, Cleo, so much and that's why I chose her for my avatar.
They have the most adorable personalities and she was our joy for 14 years.
I've always been a reader, even before retirement. You see a lot of posts about books on my site.
Thanks for stopping by
jmb

Josie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josie said...

JMB, Thank you for stopping my blog :-) Oh, silly me, I deleted my comment and was going to post something else.

It is my ambition to go to Africa one day. I would imagine it's like no other place on earth. Can you just imagine circumnavigating the continent of Africa in a small plane? What an adventure.

Josie

Janice Thomson said...

I love to read about Africa...Sir Laurens van der Post was my first introduction to that fabulous and intriguing country when I was younger.
It is hard to finish a book once you find a historical mistake...it leaves you with a bad taste. This is supposed to be one of the jobs of an editor, to verify authenticity and like Ian mentions there seems to be a lot of that going around lately.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I was just thinking, reading this post, that that seemed like my kind of book, then read about the Lucy error and wondered. [I remember all that controversy.] But it's certainly a book I might look out for. Will be very interested to learn what you think of the Peter Carey. I love his early works.

jmb said...

Hi Janice,

I was furious when I saw the error. I wanted to write to him at once to tell him. Well email him anyway. But I did finish the book.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi Josie,
I'm glad you came back. Like you I want to go to Africa to go on safari, which I posted about recently.
I am reading voyager's posts about her trip to Tanzania which she told about in a comment above.
regards
jmb

jmb said...

Hi WCLC,

Actually the book was interesting, but, when so much of it is telling you the backstory and after the error, I began to wonder. Hopefully it was a one time only error.

I'm reading the Templar Legacy by Steve Berry at the moment. (I hope he did his research.)Then Peter Carey next.
regards
jmb

david santos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sienna said...

Gday! JMB!!

How are you?

I finally got here, I have to say I adore your little dog and then I read down the posts and realised her name is Cleo and from the sound of it she is no longer with us...so sorry, but what a beautiful little dog.

I also wanted to say what a beautiful place you have chosen to also make home...Canada, the pictures and way people describe it...an amazing and picturesque country, and the people!

I live in the Mallee, Victoria Australia, have travelled a fair bit...(Italy is one of my obsessions)ashamed to say I have never been to Canada, (family has, and loved it)...say, do you ever travel back to Oz?

So glad to meet you, glad you dropped by, (reading is another passion of mine).

Your quilts are incredible, just beautiful work...very clever idea both sides, and love the child's quilt...nice work.

Pam

jmb said...

The post deleted was a spam post. I will not put in a catchpa for the moment, since I hate filling them in myself, and hope that this is a single event.
jmb

jmb said...

Hi Pam,
I was trying to figure out where you were. Since I am a Sydney gal I didn't recognize any name, so Victoria explains it.
I do get back now and again. In fact I am trying to persuade my husband to go visit his brother and sisters. I have no relatives left there now.
My brother in law breeds racehorses in a very small way and we go to the country races when we are there. I just love that, but I see you have harness racers.

Thanks for the kind words.
regards
jmb

Sienna said...

Sydney is getting (was?) a lot of rain..160 to 200mm (eastern seaboard), perhaps not right at Sydney.

Which is wonderful, but it still is not falling into the required catchment areas.

I have just completed my Diploma of Thoroughbred Studies, spent a year at Ballarat University...must all be educated now. So we are dual licence...breed, train, educate on the farm thoroughbreds and standardbreds...our love and passion, the little foal currently berthed on my blog at the minute is Brockie, a thoroughbred foal..his great great great grand dam was the last female horse to win the English Derby.

My cousin (you may have heard of him?) is Roy Higgins the ex jockey, won two Melbourne Cups, '65 on the wonderful Light Fingers and '67 on Red Handed.

I believe you are the first (part?) Australian I have met here in blogworld cyberspace, maybe Australians are a quiet lot, ha ha.

All the best,

Pam