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Death in the Long Grass: A Big Game Hunter's Adventures in the African Bush

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,834 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Few men can say they have known Africa as Peter Hathaway Capstick has know it-- leading safaris through lion country; tracking man-eating leopards along tangled jungle paths; running for cover as fear-maddened elephants stampede in all directions. And of the few who have known this dangerous way of life, fewer still can recount their adventures with the flair of this forme ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 15th 1978 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 1977)
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Average rating 4.39  · 
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 ·  1,834 ratings  ·  111 reviews

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Zach Matthews
Dec 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Overwritten, with prose purple in the extreme, by an author of questionable moral character as a hunter and someone who was at best a serial exaggerator and possibly an outright plagiarist. All that said, this is one hell of a book. I haven't picked it up in years and I can still remember the opening line: "In four hot, still hours dawn will hemorrhage like a fresh wound in the sky over the eastern Muchingas..."

Capstick was a New York bond trader who left it all behind to become a "professional
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
Peter Capstick was a big game hunter in Africa during the 70's, and probably longer, but the stories in this memoir cover mostly the 70s.

This book feels like a collection of campfire stories, each tall tale as exciting as the last. One tends to believe most of the tales that Capstick tells, but only because he sounds straightforward, honest, and pragmatic. Even so, one could easily get the idea that Capstick was among the best hunters ever (as told by Capstick). How seriously you take the storie
Preston Fleming
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What most people don't understand about big-game hunting in Africa is that the animals have a much better chance against the hunter than one might expect. The late Peter Hathaway Capstick was born in New Jersey but realized his boyhood dream of becoming a big-game hunter and safari guide in Africa. Each chapter in DEATH IN THE LONG GRASS examines a different big-game animal by explaining why it is dangerous and telling stories about contests that the animals won. Once you've read Capstick's firs ...more
Jun 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People interested in plagiarism.
Peter Hathaway Capstick wrote books about big game hunting in Africa and I wish he hadn't. I've always been a fan of hunter/writers and had hoped Capstick would be a worthy successor to the long line of great hunting ones...J. A. Hunter, Karamojo Bell, Robert Ruark, Ernest Hemingway, Nash Buckingham and the greatest of all, Jim Corbett. I was shocked by the work Capstick foisted upon us. It's been several years since I read this book and I'm surprised I kept it in my library. I'll remedy that si ...more
An Idler
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is what it is. I don't really care how much of it is real, any more than I mind the bad editing and punctuation. This was a ripping good adventure book, full of wild tales and freak occurrences and death at every turn. What a book. ...more
Prashant Chaturvedi
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book covers a controversial topic, professional hunting or Game hunting, in Africa. I personally belong to the Disney crowd that author derisively describes in the book, who dislikes killing animals for fun. However, he gave a new perspective of life in the wild Africa and how the roles of hunter and prey can change quickly. A great (and sometimes gory) narrative that sure will send shivers down your spine next time you see a Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Cape Buffalo, Rhino, Crocodile and even ...more
K.M. Weiland
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm not a hunter, and although I'm not squeamish about killing animals when necessary, I don't find sport hunting appealing in the least. That said, this book is a riveting account of some of the scariest animals on the plant. Capstick shares stories gleaned from his own experiences on safari in Africa in the 1970s and seasons them with a rousing wit and a lot of fun. ...more
I bought this book from Book Club Associates, a division of WHSmith, I believe, when I was a teenager many moons ago. Published in 1977, Death in the Long Grass relates stories of big game hunting in Africa, as told by the hunter himself. He must have been a ‘larger than life’ kind of guy, and I certainly would have liked to have spent a couple of hours around a campfire listening to him, though I probably wouldn’t have been able to sleep much afterwards. His Goodreads biographical note says thi ...more
Anthony Whitt
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Heart pounding action straight from the true experiences of the author. Not for the squeamish. In his line of business the loss of innocent lives is common place and the details are brutal.
Timothy Smallwood

Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I am not a hunter. I have never shot an animal. I have on,t caught 3 fish in my entire life. This book was written in such a way that none of that matters! I really could feel and sense the expeditions as the author masterfully described them. Obviously the lions and elephants are amazing, but the animals that truly captivated me were the leopard and the Cape buffalo. Amazing animals indeed. I remain against the idea of sport hunting, but the
Death in the Long Grass is an outstandingly written account of the author's real-life adventures and experiences in Africa guiding big game hunters on safari. His stories are categorized by the different types of the most dangerous game of the African bush -- the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, crocodile, hippo, and the Cape buffalo, which many consider to be the most dangerous of all.

Capstick's colorful descriptions make their way smoothly into the stories and he takes the reader deep into the
Jan 11, 2012 rated it liked it
OK, so this Peter Capstick is an incredible writer. He can write a scene of a man being eaten by a lion like no one else. You feel every crunch of the powerful jaws of the man-eating monster....But his attitude is so Victorian -- all about faithful helpers with names like Silent from the indigenous population, the fatalism of the African, and the importance of a stiff drink at the end of the day when you're ready to recall all the animals you've slaughtered -- in loving detail. Had this book bee ...more
Chris Hamburger
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Capstick is a master story teller and a model hunter. He weaves the suspense of waiting for the perfect moment to strike the deadliest game in the most unforgiving terrain of Africa, with the facts of the hunter, target, and culture of hunting. he truly knows his craft. He takes you on first hand accounts of tracking tigers, leopards, lions, elephants, anything one might hunt in africa. He writes about trailing a man-eating crocodile that was reported at 15 feet in length. He was sleep ...more
Mike Disalvo
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Capstick invokes the feeling of sitting around the campfire listening to stories. He tells a story the way way Monet painted, full of color and brilliance. His stories make you feel the sun beating down on you,and hear the tiny rustle of the long grass that means a charge. When you read his book(s) your not going to feel like you reading, you'll feel like your there. No one has ever written better on hunting in Africa, not Ruark or Hemingway, I know I have a 250 volume collection of African hunt ...more
Sep 02, 2009 rated it liked it
I kind of hate this author. He seems to be a responsible hunter and a conservationist, however he also seems kind of full of himself. Initially, it seems self deprecating, but then eventually it's just annoying. The stories are interesting though (if you can get past the bullet and killing talk). A view of what for me is the 'other side' of the African tourism coin...and to be fair it is also the part that in some countries has a large (postive) impact on the preservation of wilderness and wildl ...more
Katy Rudie
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Riveting and intense. This book has all the excitement of an action movie yet it's REAL! I think he's an amazing narrative writer. ...more
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
How could I not love a book about hunting? Mahana, I'm going to Africa. ...more
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
With imagery so fantastic you have to read it to believe it, Capstick paints a picture of Africa so real you'll find yourself pining for your Disney movies, clutching them for dear life and praying that they were the reality instead of what is.
Normally I have a problem understanding writing that is read out loud to me but when my husband read to me the Leopards chapter, images of what was happening played in mind like I was watching a movie. His writing style leaves nothing to be desired.
Mahendranath Ramakrishnan
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have watched innumerable documentaries on widlife in the Serengeti, Masai Mara, Kruger Park, Okavango, Namib, Sahara, Kalahari deserts, etc. I am a big fan of those documentaries. But yet, I learned a LOT of mind-blowing facts that I did not know before.

The only reason that I am giving one star less rating is, the writing seems to be a bit dense for me at times and also that, it involves taking life for mostly unneccessary reasons. I will defend my position this later.

The author's humor is s
Jake Jeffries
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Normally this is not the type of book that I would read but it came highly recommended from my brother and I was curious about it due to the fact that the movie The Ghost in the Darkness is loosely based The Man-eaters of Tsavo which is referenced a few times in the book. In addition to being curious about it for that reason, learning about the dangers of certain animals is also of interest to me. Peter Capstick is a great writer and does a superb job of keeping you engaged in what is happening. ...more
J. Robert
Jun 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
I got about a third of the way through it and I had to stop. It is so poorly written and stupid. Constant hyperbole, everything is exaggerated; sometimes it's pure fiction (like elephants eating people). He loses all credibility from his exaggerations. The reader has no idea what is actual recollection and what is a story meant to thrill the least intelligent members of his readership.

Dangerous game hunting doesn't need exaggerated hyperbole and big fish stories to be exciting. It can stand on i
Michael Alford
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Many years ago this book was recommended to me, and for whatever reason I put off reading it for almost 2 decades. I cannot believe, looking back, that I cheated myself for so long. This book is remarkable, educational, insightful, well-written, and witty.
The author was a hunter in Africa, and each chapter is dedicated to some animal that can kill you deader than a hammer, including lions, cape buffalo, crocodiles, snakes, wild dogs, hyenas, rhinos and hippos. Each chapter is chock-full of stor
Harding McFadden
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Along with the late Jeff Cooper, Peter Hathaway Capstick is my go-to guy for gun writing, but to say so pigeon holes him too much. The guy could write! Solid, entertaining stories told by a fella with a back porch storyteller's flair for the dramatic. He could make you cringe, laugh, and choke up. Often brilliant, most times profound, he never failed to entertain, and possessed that gift know to so few writers: he knew when to stop the story. Would that there were more like him, but the rarity t ...more
Jonathan Oosterhouse
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A very brutal and sometimes cruel look at what African safaris are. Our author shares his hunting adventures of dangerous game that are truly scary. While he does describe hunting of African elephants, lions leopards, etc. he also describes how these hunting excursions take part of the very essential act of conservation for the better food of the individual species. Capstick also shows us that while nature is almost infinite in its beauty, it is just as if not more so deadly. A fantastic read fo ...more
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
I'm glad I didn't read this before my first trip to Africa! Divided into sections such as Lion, Elephant, Leopard and so forth Capstick shares his experience with each type of animal as a big game hunter and government culler. In addition he relates experiences of friends and others in the safari game in a sometimes delightful but often morbid style. Our photo safari in Kenya was deceivingly calm and the animals we saw didn't threaten us at all. But now I know they could have without warning. Gr ...more
Matthew Dambro
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful book about hunting in Africa. Capstick was an American Wall Street trader who gave up everything to live his dream in the wilds of Africa and South America. His take on hunting and life in general is a necessary and bracing antidote to the Disney anthropomorphizing of nature. He understands the delicate dance of life and death that is nature. He also understands a man's place in that dance. This is a must read. ...more
Ryan Rench
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Having watched the movie, I was interested to read the firsthand account of what it took to kill the lions. The preface to the book warned the reader that the construction explanations would be boring, so I followed the advice and skipped to the lion-hunting part, which was excellent.

The movie is obviously more dramatic and entertaining. The book is more of a journal. I enjoyed it for what it is, but it's not really a book I would spread around.
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is Capstick's first book. Capstick reveiws his personal adventures with, lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards, waterbuffalo, hippos, snakes, hyenas, packs of wild dogs, and much more.

However, one of the most interesting parts for me was Capstick systematic dismantelling of preservationism.

As far as Capstick's books go, this is the perfect appetizer.
Leah Alvord
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Written with a good deal of purple prose, and a lot of information in the form of anecdotes and facts not commonly dispersed. Overall, informative but not really entertaining. It was just okay for me.
Eric Heisner
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic read for anyone wanting to experience the danger and adventure of hunting in Africa. Mr. Capstick's style of writing had me laughing and highly entertained in the way he can turn a phrase. A must read for anyone who yearns for the old days of the Great Hunters. ...more
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Peter Hathaway Capstick was an American hunter and author. Born in New Jersey and educated at (although did not graduate from) the University of Virginia, he walked away from a successful Wall Street career shortly before his thirtieth birthday to become a professional hunter, first in Central and South America and later (and most famously) in Africa. Capstick spent much of his life in Africa, a l ...more

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