cover image Magnificent Africa

Magnificent Africa

Tom Schandy. Duncan Baird, $35 (216pp) ISBN 978-1-84483-069-5

Africa's economic struggles often overshadow its ecological riches, but Schandy's photos bring them to the fore. Schandy, a photographer who works extensively with the World Wildlife Fund, has journeyed often through Africa, and in this book he combines travelogue with history and science in the passages that accompany his stunning photographs. The book's largest section is given to the savanna region where wildebeests, cheetahs and giraffes roam, but he also ventures into mountains and forests, deserts and river and lake regions. There are many beautiful tableaux like the view of a Botswana sunset, but some graphic photos (a lioness devouring a wildebeest, a hyena trotting off with a severed antelope leg) won't appeal to the squeamish. Schandy's macro work-the giant lobelia's blossom of leaves and small creatures like chameleons-leaves as memorable an imprint as the magnificent landscape shots, including a particularly grand panoramic of Mount Kenya at sunrise. The text provides in-depth explanations of the natural phenomena in the photos, from relating the legend of the warthog's ugliness (hint: it has something to do with the perils of vanity) and the history of Mount Kilimanjaro to discussing how flamingos eat. Though the gorgeous photos could stand alone, Schandy's enthusiasm and awe are palpable in his writing, so that the words add to the photos rather than being mere afterthoughts, and the result is an engrossing journey through a singular land. 130 color photos.