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A Rock and a Hard Place: An American Geologist's Adventures in Africa

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  37 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Deadly Snakes. Heatstroke. Scorpions.

These are just a few of the obstacles that George Zelt encounters as a graduate student in apartheid-era South Africa. In A Rock and a Hard Place, readers will follow George as he explores this contradictory, beautiful country during a time of growth and oppression. With tales of finding refuge in a desert sandstorm, being stalked by a
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Greenleaf Book Group Press
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Carla (Carla's Book Bits)
Jul 28, 2019 marked it as gave-up-on
Shelves: nonfiction
Oh no no. The first chapter started with Mr. Zelt and his friend illegally mining rocks in modern-day Namibia. This is 100% me, and please call me overly sensitive. But as corrupt as the African government may be, it rubs me the wrong way to see a group of white men just doing whatever they want regardless of the law.

Cannot finish.

A thank you to NetGalley for providing me a copy in exchange for a review.
Celia Buell
Free in exchange for an honest review, via Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Greenleaf Book Group for listing.

For a geology memoir, this was actually really interesting. I have to say, though, I thought the conflict would take place and involve something that has a lot more to do with apartheid and the political and social climate in South Africa in the 70's. As it was, the conflict surprised me, especially as George Zelt moves forward in his actions against rival geologist Joost.

One thing that
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite what I was expecting, but I enjoyed the chance to read Mr. Zelt's story. It's quite a wild ride.
I enjoyed the hunt for gems, the travelogue and adventure side of the story, along with the chance to learn a bit more about Africa.
Having grown up in the 1970's I was aware of the oppression of apartheid and how awful it was for the South African people. (In my humble opinion, the author made it clear how disturbing it was to him, along with other often overlooked forms of ethnic
Rodney Harvill
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: geology
For the record, I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

For a simple title, there is quite a bit of meaning. This book chronicles George Zelt’s adventures in South Africa as a PhD Geology student who had to make months-long field expeditions into a sparsely populated region of Namaqualand, a place with many dangers such as its fauna and harsh climate, a place where he had to rely on himself to survive while studying its geology and collecting samples of Precambrian strata. A
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an adventurous nonfiction book that kept me truly interested. I suffered through heat and sandstorms, critters and characters, and more in my climate controlled home. But the descriptive writing made it a real experience.
Marvin Fender
I received this Kindle ebook from the Goodreads Giveaway program. The book is a memoir of a young mans African educational adventure in South Africa during the 1970's. "A Rock and a Hard Place" is an average biography with a over abundance of adjectives and metaphors over dramatized accounts with so little scientific information it leaves you totally lost when Mr Zelt refers to his field of study. I found the story interesting and for the most part Mr Zelts' story is inspiring and somewhat ...more
Zeb Kantrowitz
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley-read
George Zelt spent most of his life before he turned thirty searching for specific rocks in the Kalahari Desert/Namibia and Botswana. He was trying to prove that the rocks in this area were not what prior books on the area were from. It's way too technical for me to try and explain it, but the man whose he is trying to prove wrong is a professor at the University where he studying to get his PhD.

The early part of the book is really a travelogue by a 1980s vagabond who visits Rhodesia, South-West
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My friend Barbara and I have had somewhat similar experiences, but leaving out the snakes and rebels, thank you very much. Oh, and no nearsighted rhinos or hungry leopards. We've been opal mining in the Mojave Desert, getting stuck in sand in Last Chance Canyon, also in the Mojave. We hunted for tourmaline in the tailing of the Empress Mine near Fallbrook, CA, visited the Borax Mine in Boron, CA where we were able to pick up fragile calcite and interesting, fibrous ulexite specimens. While ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Note: I received this book as part of GoodReads' First Reads program

A Rock and a Hard Place details the life of a young American graduate student in Africa as he pursues his doctorate. His studies indicate that the head of the department at the university he's attending was wrong in his PhD dissertion, and he eventually has to attend another university in another part of Africa to finish his degree. Along the way he details many of the adventures he had in the field, hunting for diamonds and
Emmanuelle Works
Oct 20, 2019 rated it liked it
This one bothers me. It's written like a novel but is supposed to be a memoir. The author writes himself like a hero. He sounds like a typical privileged entitled arrogant white man, not actively racist but he's clearly comfortable among the colonialists and the system they created, and the fact that they, he, still benefit from it, in fact sounding downright like a jilted supremacist when describing how the Africans managed to kick out them out in some of the neighboring countries. His ...more
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of this book for free through a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

Enjoyed reading about Zelt's travels and studies throughout southern Africa. It's mainly a travelogue type book, with some memoir tidbits mixed in. There isn't much depth here, but it really isn't meant to have depth, as it's more storytelling. The leopard story was worth the read by itself.

Overall, if you like adventure, geology, travel or storytelling type books, give it a try.
I was really excited when I won this one on Goodreads.

Unfortunately the author ticked me off when in the first two pages he recalls when he and a friend sheltered in a cave during a sandstorm containing some tribal paintings and brags about leaving trash and human waste for future visitors to discover. A paragraph later they are digging up the body of a Bushman and looting his meager belongings in search of diamonds. Appalling behavior, especially from a scientist.
 Nyarlathotep Twelfth Month The Haunted Reading Room
Delightfully adventurous, reading George Zelt's nonfiction narrative of his decades in geology and petrology is akin to enjoying the wild adventures of his heroes, such as Mark Twain, Jules Verne, and Jack London. Mr. Zelt is well blessed with both the "stories to tell" and the talent and wit to express them well for the edification of readers, many of whom are "armchair travellers" enjoying vicariously.
Karen Stromberg
I won this through Goodreads.

I will admit that when I entered the giveaway that I didn't have high expectations. I thought it would be on the dry side but thought I would give it a try. I'm really glad I did. I found that it was almost a page-turner and wanted to know what happened next! It was fascinating to read.
Kayla Tornello
This book shows how the author traveled around Africa while he was studying geology in college. He gives you a glimpse of how brutal that environment is. He also manages to make the study of rocks somewhat interesting. The author also met some very interesting people in his journeys.

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. Yay!
Oct 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the best writing style but a lot of interesting and entertaining anecdotes from the author's time in Africa in the 1970s. The information on different types of rocks and other geological terms kind of made my eyes glaze over and I mostly skipped over those sections.
Christi Massey
Absolutely LOVED this book. I felt like I was right along with the author in his experiences. So atmospheric and so many wonderful anecdotes and pieces of history that will remain with me for a long time. An absolute GEM!
Becky Courage
What started off as a funny and adventurous memoir quickly became repetitive and boring. I DNFed this book about halfway through. Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy for review. Unfortunately, this was not the book for me.
Cristie Underwood
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
The author wrote a great account of the personal journey they embarked on. The honest and detailed writing made it easy for the reader to feel invested in their journey.
Oct 07, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I am looking forward to reading this book!

Thank you Goodreads for this opportunity to read something in a new genre! I will post a proper review when I have completed this book.
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unique read
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Goodreads Giveaway book
An interesting story of the early life of George Zelt and his endeavour to secure his PhD. I enjoyed seeing Africa through his eyes.
Kopf Karen
Given that I recently returned from Africa/ I found the book very engaging. However-the research stemmed from illegal work- not sure I would promote that.
This book started out exciting and then fell off. There was a lot of information to learn and stories to hear, but there was some drivel to get through to get to the good parts. The author went out of his way to put in stories that had no reason for being in this book. Apparently he is really proud of his sexual conquests and felt that he needs to tell everyone. Those stories did not assist the book or help to move the story along.
Oct 30, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Thank you for the opportunity to review this book as a giveaway recipient. I am excited to read it and will update my thoughts on this book soon!
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! I read memoirs of Africa all the time, and this one was at the top of the best list with its adventures and excitement. Well written and thoughtful.
Chuck  Woll
rated it it was amazing
Nov 06, 2019
rated it did not like it
Nov 25, 2019
Helena Wann
rated it it was amazing
Aug 26, 2019
Stan Semerod
rated it liked it
Nov 26, 2019
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