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The Man-Eaters of Tsavo

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,743 ratings  ·  188 reviews
St. Martin's is proud to present a new series of the greatest classics in the literature of hunting and adventure, chosen from the personal library of writer and big game hunter Peter Hathaway Capstick. These showcase volumes will once again make available the true masterpieces of Africana to collectors, armchair hunters, sportsmen, and readers at large.

Considered one of t
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published December 15th 1985 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1907)
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K.J. Charles
The account of a big-game hunter and builder of the Mombasa railway, Col Patterson, who was also the guy who took on the notorious man-eating lions of Tsavo. These two lions are possibly the biggest man eaters in history, killing maybe 140 people and bringing the railway construction to a halt because of their nightly attacks on the workers' camps, and by Patterson's account were near-supernaturally cunning and deadly. A fabulous story, even with Patterson's truly weird decision to pause the sto ...more
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An account by Colonel John Henry Patterson of his time in Africa - while I expected a focus on Tsavo, it's in fact only about the first third of the book that deals with his time there and travails brought on by the titular pair of man-eating lions.

Written around the dawn of the 20th century (covering events from 1899 onwards), it's absolutely a product of it's time. "Natives" are described just as many of the game animals, and range from "low sorts" to those who welcome missionaries and as a r
Jessica Courter
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: histories
Of the last 8 books I've read, 6 of them I have given a 5 star rating, therefore when I picked up this book to read, I resolved, whatever it was like, not give it a 5 star rating. If I did, my friends were going to think I have no discernment and simply love everything I last read. . . However, there is no way I can give this book a simple 4 star rating. No, it's five star and deserves every one of them. The Man-Eaters of Tsavo is a beautiful recount of John Patterson's time in East Africa. Begi ...more
Roy Lotz
Dec 13, 2013 rated it liked it
The first half of this book is great. The second half is both boring and disturbing. Let me explain.

The first half consists of Patterson’s description of the title story, his battles with two man-eating lions in Tsavo. It’s really incredible that this happened; I thought that it was just a myth that lions could acquire a taste for human flesh. One suspects that Patterson could have been exaggerating, but the style of the book is so plain and direct that he comes across as honest, even humble. I
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
I love books about real-life sagas, and this one didn't dissapoint...
"Pools of blood marked these halting-places, where he doubtless indulged in the man-eaters' habit of licking the skin off so as to get at the fresh blood. (I have been led to believe that this is their custom from the appearance of two half-eaten bodies which I subsequently rescued: the skin was gone in places, and the flesh looked dry, as if it had been sucked.) On reaching the spot where the body had been devoured, a dreadfu
Nov 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I first came to the topic of the Tsavo man-eaters via the movie called "The Ghost and the Darkness", which is very loosely based on this book here. The movie went more towards action while the events in the book probably would have been better adapted into a thriller or maybe a light horror movie.
So when I read this book and heard the author's own account of the man-eaters I must say I was pleasantly surprised, and kind of disappointed in the movie. Especially since the lions in the book looked
Sep 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
After visiting the Field Museum in Chicago and seeing the pelts from the two infamous lions, The Ghost and The Darkness, I was struck by truly how huge these lions must have been. This is not only a record of an apparently unique natural incident of two lions which appeared to deliberately stalk humans and drag them back to their den to devour, but it is also an example of Victorian colonial expansion coming into conflict with the natural world.

The book is out of print and I had some trouble fin
Aug 01, 2011 rated it liked it
An interesting book, particularly when looked at from a historical perspective. The film "The Ghost and the Darkness" is based on this book, in which the author talks about his hunting adventures in 19th century British East Africa. The title is a bit deceptive - only about a third or so of the book is actually spent talking about the infamous man-eating lions; the rest are accounts of the author's hunts in Africa. For anyone who does read this, I urge them to do so with the context of time in m ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-non-fiction
The first few chapters were interesting although I found the continual "look there is a beautiful animal, let me kill it" rather dated. ...more
Jack Durham
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The book provides a great account of the lifestyle and happenings of British east Africa in the late 1800s. The book is nicely written; providing for an easy and enjoyable read; with the ease of picking up and putting down at one’s will.

However, it must be noted that the title can be slightly misleading - as that specific quest for the man-eating lions only hosts a portion of the book. The second half tells the author’s story of his remaining time in Africa. This may not be to everyone’s desire
Salem Lorot
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, africa
It was a beautiful experience to travel back in time more than 100 years ago in Kenya when Kenya-Uganda railway was being built. I got to witness the helplessness and bravery in dealing with the man-eating lions of Tsavo and hunting expeditions by Patterson and others.

I could not agree with certain things but in general, reading this book was enjoyable.
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Mildly interesting diary of some after work hunting by John Henry Patterson.

Honestly, I would have never of bothered with this if it weren't for the movie The Ghost and The Darkness. Needless to say, I was a little surprised at the difference from book to screen. I shouldn't have been, but was for some reason.

All in all, it was interesting enough, but I noticed in another person's review that they didn't think JHP had a respect or love for animals that other Big Game Hunt writers did. I kind o
Nov 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A reasonably good and interesting memoir about hunting wild animals in East Africa. John Henry Patterson became famous for killing the two man-eating lions of Tsavo, who are now on display in the Chicago Field Museum. Only the first half of this book is about the Tsavo lions, though; the second half is about his hunting other animals such as rhinos, etc.

Patterson seemed like a pretty likeable guy to me, modest, and not very racist by late 19th-century British Empire standards. The book made me f
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
The only reason I picked up this book because I was told the movie was exceptionally good and it was worth the read. But the book, in the end, was rather a disappointment. It was more like a narrative style of writing without any focused storyline attached to it.
There were bits of mind capturing moments which describes some leadership qualities of the writer, but other than that, the book was not so captivating.
And this is why I believe some spice elements needed to be injected into the movie
Dave Mansker
Feb 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I loved this book, it was nice to read from the viewpoint of someone living in the era and not a modern era writer's judgements thereof. The story seems nearly incredible, yet actually happened. Those familiar with the movie "The Ghost and the Darkness" will be familiar with a part of this story, but half the book deals with happenings after the events of that story. This is the book that inspired Theodore Roosevelt to go on African safari after he was out of office. ...more
Christopher Saunders
Engineer-hunter Patterson relates trying to build the Uganda Railway while menaced by (and menacing) assorted African fauna. The sections devoted to the Tsavo lions (roughly the first third of the book) are fascinating stuff. The remainder provides an often tedious account of Patterson shooting his way through Africa's wildlife. May interest sporting and travel enthusiasts. ...more
Isabella Panzica
Jan 09, 2021 rated it liked it
Around halfway through this book I felt like the book lost most of its suspense and it became painfully obvious that this was just a book glorifying some guy hunting lions. The beginning of the book was intense, suspenseful, and was a great page-turner. Though after (view spoiler) the book lost its suspense and was boring. I felt like if the author focused more on dragging out the events of the (view spoiler) ...more
RA Ratterman
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
The account of these Tsavo man-eating lions is an epic tale of terrible tragedies spanning several months. As this work points out, Britain's goal to use a railroad to bisect the country with the intent of eliminating the centuries-old Muslim-African slave-trade, was severely hindered by a pair of vicious lions. Murder plans directed at Colonel John Henry Patterson add a tinge of excitement to this page-turner. Predominately dishonest workers and skirmishes between those workers, create division ...more
Book collector
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
First things first. I disagree with trophy hunting fundamentally. Hunting for food, fine, for bragging rights, disgusting. So why read and indeed enjoy this book? Well it's to do with a movie called the ghost and the darkness, adapted from events in this book by William Goldman. I love that movie and when I found out about this book i wanted to read it. A guy at my local waterstones store sourced this stunning hardcover for me over 15 years ago now and I was so grateful to him for the efforts he ...more
Feb 08, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I alternated between struggle and enjoyment with this book. The chapters telling the story of the two lions that the book is named for were exciting and enjoyable, but that’s only a portion of the book. After that it tells a variety of stories about the author’s experiences in eastern Africa, which are somewhat less interesting, though still enjoyable. The part I found tiresome, though in retrospect I should have expected given the time that these stories occur, was the endless trophy hunting.

Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Man Eaters Of Tsavo is about a man named john patterson who is working on a railroad across Africa. This man was transferred to kenya from Mombasa to build a train track across a river. Patterson (also the author of the book) landed in a very beautiful place of kenya. From there he took a long train ride to to his living place for the time being. when he gets to tanzania he discovers the man eating tigers. In the book it exclaims that the tigers had such rough tongues that it could lick a ma ...more
Royal Hinshaw
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting book. While the famous man-eaters are the centerpiece of the book, there are other tales involving lions as well, some quite chilling. On the other hand, a good deal of the book is concerned with his hunting trips which he assumes his audience is most interested in. There are also his impressions of the country and its people as well as stories of dealing with his labor force which is primarily Indian. Unsurprisingly, some of his views here have not aged well. Patterson displays a ...more
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book The Man-Eaters of Tsavo is an amazing story written by J.H Patterson in the year of 1907. The book is about when the people of Tsavo (135+ men) were building a bridge across the Tsavo river. There were two male African lions who were in the area, to find out the rest you will have to read the book. The book was written very well and thoughtfully, and the author used very appropriate and advanced vocabulary throughout the story. In this book there are some twist that were not very expect ...more
Braden Lenz
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enter the bizarre world of colonial East Africa

Colonial east Africa during the time of this writing was still wild and presented dangers to those who wished to take it. Looking back from current times it seems like a different universe where railway workers would routinely be devoured by lions. After the lions were killed I found it still interesting to read about the colonels hunting exploits though it pains me to hear about so many now endangered animals being taken casually for sport.

On ano
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Took this after reading Jim Corbett's omnibus.
This book also gives various accounts of thrilling encounters with the maneaters here the maneaters being two lions which killed more than 1000 people. J H Patterson has beautifully described east Africa where he was in charge of the railway construction at the time when the man eaters wrecked havoc among Indian coolies and natives who worked in the construction. The description of the maneaters are very much enough to understand why they were calle
Pj Anderer
Stumbled upon a version of this for free on wiki source and decided to read it once I decided it was the complete book. A straightforward telling of the encounter with the lions that are the subject of the movie 'The Ghost and the Darkness.' Perhaps justified as the lions were attacking the camp, the further hunting in the book seemed a bit unnecessary. Interesting historical sketches including meeting the Masai named Lenana, after whom the point on Mt Kenya is named and descriptions of Nairobi ...more
Kaushik Samanta
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the year 1898, two man-eating lions 🐯 terrorised the land of Tsavo🌄🌿, killing over 100 men in a span of a year. They were so dreaded by the locals that they were believed to be devils in the animals' skin.
The Man-Eaters of Tsavo is a thrilling encouter of Col. John Henry Patterson 🔫 with two fierce lions. 🐯🐯
Then an engineer engaged on the construction of the Uganda Railways 🚂, Col. J. H. Patterson managed to kill the beasts with shear courage and fine huntsman skills.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I always rate my books against other books in the same genre. So for instance I might give a horror novel 4 stars and a classic of literature 3 stars, but I’m not comparing the two. So I give this 4 stars against other travelogue / memoirs written in the early 20th century/late 19th century.

The book is surprisingly readable for a memoir written by a Victorian era explorers, and the tale of his knight like quest against the Tsavo man eaters is inspiring. I often wish I’d been alive when most of t
Daniel Esquivel
Interesting narration on the events by the very man who lived the times when these lions triggered chaos in Tsavo over more than a century ago; if you have seen the movie "The Ghost and the Darkness" then you are familiar with the story, although the film is inaccurate in several detail.

The book describes how events unfolded (not in the detail I would have liked though) during the building of the bridge and how he killed them both (as opposed to the movie version) after several attempts.

I have t
Apr 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
It is a must-read book for everyone who plans to visit Kenya and, especially, Tsavo national parks. The book is the firsthand account of events occurred during the Uganda railway construction in late 19th century British East Africa. The lion man-eaters terrorized the construction workers for almost a year with more than 27 people died a terrible death. Many believed that lions were not lions at all, but devils or spirits opposing the construction. The book is written by James Henry Patterson, a ...more
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Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson, DSO, known as J.H. Patterson, was an Anglo-Irish soldier, hunter, author and Zionist, best known for his book The Man-Eaters of Tsavo (1907), which details his experiences while building a railway bridge over the Tsavo river in Kenya in 1898-99.

Although he was himself a Protestant, he became a major figure in Zionism as the commander of both the Zion Mule C

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