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Something Of Value

4.34  ·  Rating Details ·  424 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Something of Value is a novel based on events that took place in Kenya Colony during the violent Mau Mau insurrection of the 1950s, an uprising that was confined almost exclusively to members of the Kikuyu tribe. It is a powerful, gripping, and sometimes shocking novel that presents an enlightening glimpse into the lives of all sections of the population in Colonial Kenya ...more
Hardcover, 1st edition, 565 pages
Published 1955 by Doubleday & Co
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 30, 2009 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it it was amazing
I was recomended this book by somebody and thought it was going to be a politically incorrect (honest) account of the communist funded Mau Mau revolution in Kenya. What it actually is, is a historical fiction account of it. I was truly blown away by this book. Even though it doesn't always portray the whites in a very good light idiots would say this book is racist because it shows the utter brutality and ignorant superstions of the blacks. These days you are only allowed to show the bad side of ...more
A surprising account of the Mau Mau Rebellion in British Kenya in the early 1950's. Why is it surprising? Mainly because it's brutal in it's accounting of atrocities committed by both the Blacks and Whites.I didn't expect that from a mainstream novel published in the mid-1950's. The book doesn't pull any punches and it doesn't let either side off. The book makes it clear both sides are to blame.

However, as another reviewer has pointed out, Ruark does write mostly from the white farmer's point of
John Rouse
Sep 13, 2013 John Rouse rated it really liked it
Robert Ruark, a journalist and writer of some success came to Kenya in 1949 to go on hunting safari. While there he became a close friend of the famed white hunter Harry Selby who owned a 40,000 acre cattle ranch in the White Highlands near Mt Kenya. During the next six years he went back several times and was a firsthand witness to the beginning of the Mau Mau rebellion and State of Emergency which began in 1952 up until the eventual suppression of the rebellion in 1956. The violence of the reb ...more
Ruark's "Something of Value" appeared in 1955, just at the end of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. I read it as a young boy and found it both exhilarating in its depiction of late-colonial Kenya and horrifying in its account of the Mau Mau and their atrocities. These days, of course, the Mau Mau are regarded as nationalist freedom fighters (though of course the vast majority of their victims were non-Kikuyu black Africans) and it's the British and their internment camps rather than the Mau Mau wi ...more
David Jarrett
Mar 31, 2014 David Jarrett rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adults only
Recommended to David by: Self
One of the books that made a lasting impression on me, first read fifty years ago, written by a man who actually experienced life in Africa, and more particularly, Kenya, firsthand. His narrative of the lives of two childhood friends, one a white Englishman and one a native black Kikuyu, tells the story of the violent Mau Mau uprising against provincial English rule in the mid-1950s. It is not a book for the faint of heart or the squeamish, but from other accounts I have read of Africa from the ...more
Sharon Lyons
Aug 16, 2014 Sharon Lyons rated it it was amazing
This book was one of the most influential books in my life with regard to understanding colonialism. It was years after I read it, when I came to understand what it had been about - as a young teenager without much teaching in real history, you don't get a lot of the subtleties of the world order and fading empires. This book, and The Real World of Democracy by CB McPherson should be read together.

The book shows how friends' lives can change dramatically because of the politics of their parents
Ted Lehmann
Feb 04, 2015 Ted Lehmann rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers
This is one of the seminal novels of my adolescence. Robert Ruark captured a culture in change and brought it to life. I've been thinking about it lately, because the current terror campaign being waged by ISIS is similar in so many ways, breaking all social norms to create dislocation, fear, and disruption. In retrospect, remember that Mau Mau leader Jomo Kenyatta became a respected African leader in later years. Probably won't happen today.....
Jun 21, 2010 Linsy rated it it was amazing
This book was phenomenal. Although a work of fiction, it has been said that this book is very true to the time of the Mau Mau uprising in Africa in the middle of the 20th century. Impeccably researched and beautifully written. Not a book for the faint of heart and not something that will make you feel happy; but, it will make you feel and stay with you for a very long time.
Chris Casey
Jan 17, 2016 Chris Casey rated it really liked it
This book came recommended (and as a gift) from my father who told me he counted it among his favorites. After one false start a couple years ago, I took it on again last summer and only just finished it. A large hardbound book, it only suited for nightstand reading, and I started and finished a few other books at the same time I plodded through this one. And at first, it was a plod. Always good reading, but pretty broad in scope and not afraid to spend many pages setting the stage. It's actuall ...more
Ross Morgan
Feb 16, 2013 Ross Morgan rated it liked it
On my second visit to Kenya in 2005 my cab driver told me how his grandfather fought for the British against German Askers as a soldier in the Kings African Rifles during WWI. His father and uncle then went off to fight for England in Burma during WWII. Being trained seasoned soldiers they were interned by the British sometime after the war after they had returned to Kenya. A visit to Mount Kenya – the land the Mau Mau was fought over intrigued me and reading this book, plus its sequel Uhuru pla ...more
Wenzl Schollum
May 21, 2013 Wenzl Schollum rated it it was ok
Shelves: africa
Racist and sexist - a book that could never be published in this day and age. The women are there to look pretty , have babies and pour their handsome men another drink. The "wogs" as they are called so often are there to do as they are told or take their punishment - be it a kick in the pants or tortured to death. The animals are there to be slaughtered for trophies or to clear the land for the white farmers.
The settler regime in Kenya was probably the most openly racist one in the British empi
carl  theaker
Oct 19, 2010 carl theaker rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-fiction

When I was a kid my Dad watched this movie about
19 times so by default, did we. My Mom eventually made
fun of seeing it yet again.

Years later I saw the book on a friend's shelf so
I read it. It is a good read; many insights into
Kenyan customs. A lot of Swahili is used so if you
follow along with the supplied dictionary in the
back, you'll have a basic knowledge, comes in handy
later for crossword puzzles.

Feb 17, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing
A slice of raw South African history, definatly not for the thinskined PC reader,or faint of heart.A real look at the thoughts of two oposing cultures,the start of all wars,the predictions of the fate of south Africa aluded to in the book are all too real, and this is woven into a great story.
Feb 13, 2009 Andrea added it
Shelves: africa, kenya
This book was published in 1955, so the MauMau period in Kenya that it covers was contemporary at the time. That's the only excuse I can make for this hysterical, fear mongering and racist book. While Ruark depicts plenty of explicit, bloody violence on both sides, the white settlers only become violence in response to the primitive treachery of the "natives." If you want to know something true about this period, two recent non-fiction books are helpful: "Histories of the Hanged" by David Anders ...more
Dec 06, 2008 Anne rated it it was amazing
Historical fictions are my favorite form of reading and they don't get better than "Something of Value". It is an extremely well written and historically accurate story; something all historical fictions should seek to be.
It takes place in Africa (Kenya), just after WWII, when the whole face of Africa was changing, after the British colonial period was losing its grip on the region. The relationship between the white colonials and the native Africans, which had developed an uncomfortable peace
Oct 10, 2013 Philip rated it liked it
This is one of those books that I'd always had an interest in reading but never gotten very far with. This time around was the magic number, I guess, because after a slow start the pace picked up and I was engrossed. The descriptions of safaris and animal life in Africa are suberb and no doubt accurate, the descriptions of native ceremonies (they were very big on circumcision for both males and females) and, ultimately, the atrocities committed by both sides during the Mau Mau uprising, are vivi ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Frances rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read
This gives a very different view of the uprising. The main theme is the wish to retain tribal customs. Foremost is the universal circumsicm of 14 year old children. After the "ceremony" they were sent aside from the village for a period, to feed and otherwise fend for themselves while healing took place. Those who returned after the requisite period of time were welcomed as adults.

This custom is among the causes that is being brought to the world's attention now. Perhaps if the British had been
Holly Munson
Apr 01, 2016 Holly Munson rated it it was amazing
Just looking for a book to read in the library, I picked this book up at random. That was over 30 years ago. I still think about it in an almost visceral manner. Few books have had an affective on me in such a way, that I think about the characters and situations as if I was a part of it. I would like to read it again to see if age has tempered my reaction to it.
Bill Gladstone
Mar 12, 2014 Bill Gladstone rated it it was amazing
I appreciate Ruark's writing style and found this book interesting as it touches on history of Africa I have also read about. It is NOT for everyone as it is quite graphic in violence, descriptions of hunting experiences and mutilation. If you can get past these issues, the story line is very interesting.
David Ward
Dec 05, 2015 David Ward rated it liked it
Something of Value by Robert Ruark (Doubleday & Co. 1955) (Fiction). This is a fictionalized account of the Mau Mau Uprising in British Kenya in the 1950's by one of the Great White Hunters of the day. There were plenty of atrocities to go around, according to Ruark's somewhat fictionalized report. My rating: 7/10, finished 1987.
Pamela Thomas
Feb 06, 2014 Pamela Thomas rated it it was amazing
Interesting and educational in the way of the early safari activities and the colonization of Kenya. Thought-provoking as to the impact of colonization on a savage and tribal nation. It led me to other books on the same topic, namely, Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart".
Jan 04, 2011 Sven rated it it was amazing
In nl: Iets van waarde
Sterk epos dat een scherp beeld schetst van Afrika ten tijde van het Mau Mau conflict ahv het leven van twee vrienden. Een blanke en een zwarte wiens leven op een schrijnende manier beinvloed wordt door de geschiedenis.
Spannend en leerrijk.
Jan 21, 2011 Gene rated it really liked it

This is a reread for me... great book and author.. Robert Ruark.. second time, always better

About..Kenya.. the Mau Mau uprising in with a real good story about two blood brothers ( kids )
then into adulthood..
William Clemence
Feb 25, 2016 William Clemence rated it it was amazing
Read this in high school. There were ignorant comments about racism but I found the salient point of cultures must evolve on their own. When forced by an outside culture the natural evolution is disrupted. It is on my re-read list due to the lack of good writing now published.
Aug 19, 2008 Margaretann rated it it was amazing
My most favorite book ever....

No one is listening to the African proverb Ruark quotes in the preface - the crux of which is that if you take something away from a people (or a person) it must be replaced with something of value.
Mar 11, 2016 Elina rated it liked it
Lai nu ko, bet par Mau Mau "varoņdarbiem" tagad ir gana spēcīgs priekšstats. Autors necentās izdaiļot vai noslēpt brutālās zvēresta ceremonijas. Sīki un grafiksi attēlotas lietas, kuras noteikti nevēlējos redzēt savā galvā.
Brian Trinder
Oct 28, 2012 Brian Trinder rated it really liked it
A great read about how lives were completely changed by "the winds of change" in colonial Africa. I felt it could have been edited down to a 300 page book as in places it was a bit long winded. Well worth a read if you are interested in the change from European rule to Indigenous rule.
Feb 21, 2008 Krista rated it it was amazing
My husband suggested this book about the Mau Mau rebellion and I was initially reluctant. However, Ruark is a brilliant writer and immerses you in colonial Africa and the struggle between the natives and colonials. One of my all time favorites. It has some intense parts, but well worth the read.
Oct 27, 2008 Paige rated it liked it
Interesting book, but a bit violent, all the same, good portrayal of what was going on in Kenya post World War II, also watched the movie with a young Sydnee Poirtee (sp?) and Rock Hudson.
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Robert Ruark was an author and syndicated columnist.

Born Robert Chester Ruark, Jr., to Charlotte A. Ruark and Robert C. Ruark, a bookkeeper for a wholesale grocery, young Ruark attended local schools and graduated from New Hanover High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. He graduated from high school at age 12 and entered the University of North Carolina at age 15. The Ruark family was deeply af
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“When we take away from a man his traditional way of life, his customs, hi religion, we had better make certain to replace it with
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