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Something Of Value

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  467 Ratings  ·  52 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.

Mass Market Paperback, 11th Paperback Printing, 627 pages
Published May 1968 by Pocket Books (first published 1955)
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Elizabeth Vallentine original quote:
“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
original quote:
“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
― Robert Ruark, Something Of Value

I believe it is a Bosuto proverb, probably one of my most favorite quotes(less)

Community Reviews

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``Laurie Henderson
What a book! Where do I begin?

Robert Ruark, an African big game hunter from the American south, relates this true to life tale in a knowledgeable and intense manner - although all characters are fictional.

When the communists arrived in Kenya in the 1950's to stir up trouble, young Kimani was a willing convert.

But how could this happen? Kimani was the son of respected tribal leader, Karanja, headman of Henry McKenzie's vast Kenyan plantation and best friends with young Peter McKenzie.

When the y
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
May 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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
David Jarrett
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
John Rouse
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ted Lehmann
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is quite a book, written at the time it's set. Ruark holds nothing back as he describes the unimaginable barbarism ultimately both sides resort to during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in the 1950s. Brutality on full display, from a brutal time on a brutal continent.
Sharon Lyons
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Chris Casey
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Wenzl Schollum
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Holly Munson
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was perusing the shelves at the library looking for something to read and 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 affected 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 opinion.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jimmy Lee
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I purchased this book after seeing portions of the 1957 movie, which starred Rock Hudson and Sidney Poitier as the colonial and native Kenyan respectively. I found the book to be effective in showing the conflict caused by colonialism in Africa, less in-depth but still good at showing its effect on the native population, but highly efficient in showing the evolving - and differing - views of how life should be lived in Africa.

I believe the need to show the latter is what made the book so long, a
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
Oct 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Bill Gladstone
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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..
Aug 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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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
More about Robert Ruark...

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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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