We recommend these 3 summer reads.
There are song lyrics that go: ‘I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me’. However, there are people who talk to trees in the belief that they do listen. As I paged through this magnificent coffee-table book, the curious thought came to me that trees are actually doing the talking, if only we destructive humans would care to listen.
The book is a guide to the Champion Trees of South Africa, so designated and protected by an innovative law passed in 2002, to bring home to people the marvel of trees.
The criteria for selection is each specimen’s physical proportion, age and heritage factors such as the aesthetic, economic, historical and cultural attributes. The photography is nothing short of brilliant and there are brief accompanying descriptions of what makes these trees exceptional. A valuable addition to the nature lover’s book collection.
Authors: Enrico and Erna Liebenberg
Publisher: HPH Publishing
Reviewer: Leon Marshall
Price: R690 ISBN: 978-0-62065-226-1
Field guides to the natural world just seem to get better with every new release and Dragonflies & Damselflies of South Africa is no exception. If you’ve marvelled at the agile flight displays of these vividly coloured insects, wondered what distinguishes a dragon from a damsel, and been madly impressed by their acrobatic love life, then this comprehensive guide is for you.
Each of the 164 Odonata species that occur in South Africa is described in terms that are neither baffling to the layman nor overly simplistic to the professional. High-quality photographs of these ferocious little predators in their natural habitat, distribution maps, and diagrammatic illustrations made from scans of living insects, greatly enhance the accessibility of the information.
Whether you’re going into the bush, or sitting on your stoep watching Odonatas whizz by, this guide is worth having at hand. Before long, you might even know a species by its claspers and pterostigma.
Authors: Warwick and Michéle Tarboton
Publisher: Struik Nature
Reviewer: Andrea Abbott
Price: R280 ISBN: 978-1-77584-184-5
The book’s central character is of indeterminate race. He turns up in apartheid South Africa, so the implications are obvious. On fleeing the wrath of a racist policeman, following an entanglement with his daughter, he takes us to other parts of the world. Through his supposed gullibility, the journey becomes a commentary on the hypocrisies, depravities and downright barbarity of ideologies and their rulers.
First is Robert Mugabe followed by the likes of Idi Amin, Mobutu Sese Seko. There’s Soviet Russia and its Chernobyl disaster, the Berlin Wall and others. Neither do the Americans and British escape censure. Back in South Africa it is only Nelson Mandela who ultimately shines. This is taking satire to its extreme, where it’s very funny and at the same time very sad. It’s what makes it an extraordinary read.
Author: Christopher Hope
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Reviewer: Leon Marshall