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February 22, 2008

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Two Books You Gotta Have

Book good. Not have to turn book off and on. Can read book in bathroom. Can throw book at cat when cat knock porcelain vase off shelf.

Anyway, here are two real good books that you should know about. The first is Wild and Fair: Tales of Hunting Big Game in North America, edited by Tom McIntyre and published by Safari Press. Tom has rounded up 23 people who have hunted a lot and can actually write and had them contribute short chapters on whatever they wanted to write on whatever type of hunting they chose.

This book will not relieve the heartache of psoriasis, or cure bad breath in dogs, or show you how to factor Chandler's wobble into a doe's estrous cycle. But, on the other hand, you can actually read the sumbitch for the fun of it, which is the object of the drill, and pretty scarce these days. Safaripress.com

The second book won't be out until late this year. It's the revise/update of Safari Rifles, written by Craig Boddington in 1991. (This one will be called, logically enough, Safari Rifles II.) Since then, the book has gone on to become the definitive work in the field, eclipsing even John Taylor's African Rifles and Cartridges. Craig has been on 75 safaris. I will say that again: Craig has been on 75 safaris, and has no axes to grind, so his is the most impartial and best grounded advice available. It's also a Safari Press book. Watch for it.


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Dave Petzal:
I will start my search for the book edited by Mr. McIntyre immediately. It sounds like a winner. Another book that should be on everyone's shelf is "State Of Fear", by Michael Crichton. This book, while a novel, is a real eye opener with respect to global warming. While he doesn't totally dispel the concept, he does make you think about it.
I'm going to start reading as much as I can about wildlife in Africa. The very idea that lions hunt porcupines just floored me! Also that vivid description of the hunt that both you and Ian put forth was excellent.
Thank you very much!


Thanks for the tip Dave. Thanks to you I will spend more on books this month than on primers and powder.


Thanks for the tip. Always on the lookout for a good read, especially this time of year. When the weather is uncooperative, I troll used book stores for treasure. A recent find is an old classic "The Upland Game Hunter's Bible" by some guy named Dan Holland. Perhaps you've heard of him? ;)


How does COL (USMC RET) Boddington pay for 75 safaris? Does he any kids and family or did his time in the Marines kill that.

If I spent that much time hunting on top of my time, deployed and in the field training, I would come to find only my things and a note from my wife.

How does he do it?

Yes, I am whining!! Go to hell!! Yes, I am jealous!! Go to hell!!



Jason B


In Peterson's Hunting Magazine, a reader once asked Boddington how he could afford all of the hunting trips he went on. In my opinion, Boddington was unfairly harsh in his response. I can't quote it exactly, but he basically said that he was not rich and if the questioner set his priorities straight, he could save up and afford them too. I'm not sure of the wording but I know it brought up priorities, and I know it was a little condescending. I'm sorry, but 75 safaris is about 74 more than the average F&S or Hunting Magazine reader could ever afford. It's great that C.B. can afford to do it, and writes great accounts of his hunts for us to read; but, I lost a little respect for him for the way he handled that question. His stories are about as close as I'll ever get to Africa, because my priorities ARE straight. He should have a little more respect for that.

WA Mtnhunter

I hear you. One of the magazines he writes for should be renamed 'Craig Boddington Magazine'. Darn near everything of substance is penned by him, advertised by him, etc. in that rag. I dropped my subscription.

He should clearly note USMC RESERVE (Retired) if he wants to use his "title". That would probably equate to 5 years active duty in his days (not now). Maybe I should add "Commander, USN Ret. (NOT RESERVE) to my handle below! LOL

Just finished reading "The War" by Ken Burns. Could not put it down. Much in the book is not on the DVD. Amazing what the greatest generation endured. Also good is "Stalingrad, The Fateful Siege:1942-1943" by Antony Beevor.

Dr. Ralph

Two books you gotta have... "Roughing It" written by Mark Twain aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens; "Candide" written by Voltaire aka Francois-Marie Arouet aka Monsieur Le Docteur Ralph... even your alias has an alias when guillotines are the prevalent political correctness enforcers.

Sherrill Philip Neese

I just finished reading the other two books you recommended last month. The Long Walk and Forgotten Soldier. Man oh man.... these guys were made of tough material. Both books were good, but, as with most books on the Russian Front, Forgotten Soldier was heart wrenching and tough to read. True it was from the perspective of a soldier in a reprehensible regime, but as you read you just hope things turn out well for him and his comrades.

One insight gained from books about the eastern front is that the Allies may have been the victors, but the Russians are the ones that broke the German war machine. When you talk with veterans of these campaigns from both sides, and read their books, it just leaves you in awe of what people went through. The battles, the casualties, the suffering, the scale of war... at times it's just terribly unbelievable.


Bernie Kuntz

I have never met the man, but I find Boddington's writing very good and not at all pompous. He is a retired Marine Brigadier General, but also a very productive writer of magazine articles and books. I suspect that is where he earns his hunting money. I believe he is divorced, I have seen pictures of Boddington with his teen-age daughter, and recently with a well-endowed woman who accompanied him on safari.

Sherrill Philip Neese

As for Craig Boddington... Although I retired from the Marine Corps as a Chief Warrant Office, I do not hold his being a regular officer against him. After all, not everyone can a technical expert in their field. ;-)

Seriously though, I really enjoy his writing, videos, and TV shows. I find him to be interesting, knowledgeable, and articulate. Some may be more knowledgeable about various subjects, but I always read his articles from start to finish.


Dr. Ralph

Bernie, I just have to ask you with which qualities she was well endowed? A well read woman who is attracted to someone who possesses the ability to produce her particular fetish is to be greatly appreciated if not completely spoiled... regardless of endowment.


I just finished reading Peter Hathaway Capstick's Death In The Long Grass. That is a book that will make you never want to go to Africa! Capstick makes it sound like anybody that goes on safari is lucky to come back with a whole hide. i did enjoy it though.

Jim in Mo.

Couldn't agree more. As an Army 'Specialist' I felt sorry for those stripe sleeved souls.
Only kidding of course.


First, my sincere thanks to all of you who post on DEP's blog. Your comments and observations this past week have been, for the most part, outstanding. I haven't enjoyed this blog so much in a long time. DEP: Thanks for the thought provoking "Rantings & Ravings" that elicit these responses. Hint To All: Read these posts from the "Comment Archive". You'll get em all in chronological order (if you haven't figured that out already).

Re Boddington: You might want to cut the guy some slack. He's been at this a long time and has paid his dues. Even if some of them probably were "subsidized", he's earned his 75 safaris. Personally, while I thoroughly enjoy his articles and books from a technical standpoint, I gravitate more to the "storytellers". Guys like Peter Capstick, Gary Sitton, etc. They made you feel like - and wished - you were there. Great storytelling, and great writing, is an art, not a science. Any of you remember the 8 or 10 articles in Peterson's HUNTING back in the 80's by Ed Nixon? A superb storyteller. I only wish he were still writing. And if you haven't read his stuff, look for it. You won't regret it. And thanks again for some enjoyable reading. Prevents me from doing anything remotely productive.

Jim in Mo.

I nor anyone else said anything insulting towards C.B. Nothing but total respect here for a man who has 'been there done that'.

Ralph the Rifleman

Dave, Thanks for the the tip on the two books. I have Craig Boddington's Safari Rifles-1991 edition, and to me he is a very "practical" writer that speaks from experience, so I will pick up his second edition when available.
I like CB's style of using tried, and true, calibers for hunting to which he writes about. His military record has placed him in combat situations as far as I recall, so he has earned his title I believe? As for 75 safaris he has been on, I am envious of that record, too!

Dave Petzal

Here are two more books, both new, that you pass up at your peril. One is David Halbertsam's "The Coldest Winter," about 1950-51 in Korea. The second is "The Day of Battle," by Rick Atkinson, on the Italian campaign during WWII. Both are so good that you stop periodiclly to re-read a paragraph and say to yourself, "How he write that good?"

And the lesson you take away from both books is that much of warfare is dictated by stupidity, incompetence, and ego on the part of people with stars on their shoulders, and that the men who pay for this are the ones with a single stripe or no stripes.



I am currently reading a book, "Secret Weapons of World War II" by William Yenne.
Germany started the development of the "atomic" bomb long before the US. The mindset was; "If we (Germany) haven't developed an atomic weapon, then the US is not capable either!" The German scientists captured at the end of the European campaign were absolutely stunned when the US dropped the first device on Hiroshima!
In 1942, Hitler cut off development of any weapon that could not be operational within 18 months of concept!

P.S. Wife bought the book for me at a "dollar store" for a buck!

Dick Mcplenty

Actually if hitler hadn't insisted on all design efforts being directed towards bombers instead of fighter air craft,things would have been alot differant for the allies. Germanys jet technology wouldn't be matched by america,until the 1950's. In the limited amount of battles that german jet fighters were involved,the loss to allies was great and the german pilots were some of the worst,due to lack of man power and training.

D. Morin

I agree with the analysis of Hitler and the role of the bomber vs fighter in the Luftwaffe WW11- a great fiction story-but highly believable totay is "The Eagle Has Landed"-the part about Fat Boy Goring and how his ego ran roughshod over the top German pilots is very insightful.

O Garcia

IT was the Russians who broke the German war machine. True. We may not like that, we may want to treasure the memories of Allied campaigns in North Africa, Italy and Normandy, but the truth is, most of Germany's strength was committed to the East. It was also because of the Russian campaign that the aerial Battle of Britain was called off.

About German jet technology, the axial flow engine of the ME-262 may be modern, but it was let down by the quality of materials available at the time. The centrifugal flow engine of the British Gloster Meteor (designed by the original inventor of the jet, Frank Whittle) was more reliable. Some Gloster Meteors are still flyin today, most ME-262s could only last five minutes before they required overhauling. So even if Hitler did not meddle with their jets, the Germans might still have lost. The 10,000 BF-109s that were lost due to that plane's faulty landing gear design were more significant setbacks than any ME-262.

Hitler messed a lot of things, which is good for the rest of humanity. Had he concentrated on the Mediterranean (where they had momentarily knocked out the British Royal Navy) and Middle East, then moved towards India, he still would have ended up with the "living space" (lebensraum?) he wanted for his Germans, and with much much MORE oil than what Russia would have provided. The Russian campaign was his biggest mistake.

Good for us he wasn't smart enough.

Dr. Ralph

Two Books You Gotta Have... "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson aka Dr. Gonzo and "The Hunter's Shooting Guide: Rifles, Shotguns, Handguns" by Jack O'Connor aka Cactus Jack

Keith H.

Mr Petzal,

I always look forward to your recommendations on books and authors. This post as well as the previous one regarding the current state of outdoor writing prompted me to remember an author I have not read in a long time. Any idea what ever happened to Clay Harvey? He published an excellent book in the early 90's titled "The Hunter's Rifle". I believe in was available through the North American Hunting Club. In it Mr. Harvey not only shared his view on rifles and cartidges but also those of other experienced gun scribes such as Jim Carmichael, Warren Page and yourself. Some of the material is a little dated but it is still a good reference point for cartridge selection/capability.
Thanks for your continued advise and razor sharp wit.

O Garcia

Actually, I should have written the ME-262 engine usually lasted 5 HOURS, not 5 minutes. Sorry, no edit function. Still, 5 hours is hardly "reliable". Scary plane, though. Swept wings, axial flow jet, very modern looking. The Germans really could build stuff.

My favorite book by David Halberstam is "The Powers That Be" about the histories of LA Times, Washington Post, Time and CBS up to just after Watergate. May not be to everyone's taste, though, especially because it is critical of Vietnam War. Halberstam died last year in a car accident.

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