Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home

Boyd Varty. Random, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6985-9
Against one of the most picturesque locales in South Africa—the scenic Londolozi Game Reserve—Varty rethinks family traditions and changing social mores in this intense, insightful memoir that brings together several wise observations about the relationship between nature and humanity. The power of storytelling, Varty writes, is the blood tie that links his great-grandfather who started the reserve as a hunting ground over eight decades ago, and his father, Dave, who established the lush acreage into a nature preserve in 1973. This is more than a tame conservation story of lionesses, leopards, and elephants, but rather a transformative social awakening of Varty’s father and his confidante, Uncle John, of the racist apartheid policies following the bloody 1976 Soweto riots. Some of the most significant scenes in the book involve anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela who, following his lengthy prison stint, went to the reserve to rest and conduct terse phone talks with DeKlerk, the president of South Africa. Varty faces his own trials, overcoming a brutal crocodile assault that leaves him questioning his purpose, leading to a spiritual renewal that elevates this memoir above the usual wilderness narrative. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/2013
Release date: 03/04/2014
Compact Disc - 7 pages - 978-0-8041-6555-6
Hardcover - 451 pages - 978-1-4104-7468-1
Open Ebook - 196 pages - 978-0-679-60485-3
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