Chrissie's Reviews > Green Hills of Africa

Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway
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it was ok
bookshelves: audible-uk, bio, tanzania, 2-itunes-library, 2018-read, travel, sports, classics, returned

This is non-fiction. It is about a big-game hunting safari taken by Ernest Hemingway and his second wife Pauline Marie Pfeiffer in December 1933. They traveled to East Africa. Aided by native trackers, they hunted buffalo, rhinoceros, kudu and sable antelope. These were the big attractions of the hunt. More important still was who of the hunters would achieve the biggest kill. In my eyes, the competition between the men was extremely childish, the hunt itself gruesome and revolting.

The book is composed of four parts: "Pursuit and Conversation", "Pursuit Remembered", "Pursuit and Failure", and "Pursuit as Happiness".

In the first and second parts, Hemingway expresses his personal views on a number of American and European authors. He refers to Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Sinclair Lewis, James Joyce, Rainer Maria Rilke, Leo Tolstoy, Gustave Flaubert and Fyodor Dostoevsky for example. He speaks of which of their works HE admires most, but there is not deep analysis of any of the writers. This did add a speck of interest, but I do not see why it is found here in this book on African hunting!

The second part has a flashback to earlier hunting in the Rift Valley of Tanzania.

The third part—look at its title: “Pursuit and Failure”. It is full of grumbling, complaining and whining. Men behaving as small boys.

The fourth part gets a bit better. The “little boy”s became less sour when they manage to kill more animals. Hemingway waxes lyrical when with a possibility of success, he describes virgin forests and lands of pristine beauty. He has the eyes to see the nobility, the beauty and the intelligence of the Maasai people. Unfortunately then he reverts to the hunt, to the tracking of blood trails and gruesome slaughter and skinning of his prey…..and again his fixation on who got the biggest and the best kill.

I am generous when I give this two stars; most of it I did not like at all. Parts not disgusting or childish were instead boring. This could have been so much better had Hemingway stopped pouting and observed with open eyes the landscape around him and its people.

The audiobook is narrated by Josh Lucas. It was OK. At times, particularly in the beginning, he speaks so softly, mumbling, making it difficult to properly hear what is said. It does improve. I have no idea if the African words were properly pronounced, but clearly, he loved the swearing in Hemingway’s text. Hemingway speaks to us in the first person. The intonation used is not how I imagine Hemingway sounded.

I usually enjoy Hemingway’s prose style, but there are only a few such lines here.
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Reading Progress

March 10, 2018 – Shelved
March 10, 2018 – Shelved as: wishlist-b
March 10, 2018 – Shelved as: audible-uk
March 10, 2018 – Shelved as: bio
March 10, 2018 – Shelved as: tanzania
March 10, 2018 – Shelved as: own-unlistened
March 10, 2018 – Shelved as: 2-itunes-library
March 10, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018-read
March 18, 2018 – Started Reading
March 18, 2018 – Shelved as: travel
March 18, 2018 – Shelved as: sports
March 18, 2018 – Shelved as: classics
March 19, 2018 – Shelved as: returned
March 19, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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message 1: by Petra (new)

Petra Hemingway is hit-or-miss for me so far. I haven't read his non-fiction. This one sounds like it's not one for me. Thanks for taking one for the team, Chrissie.


message 2: by Terris (new)

Terris Too bad, Chrissie :/


message 3: by Chrissie (last edited Mar 19, 2018 09:50PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Chrissie Yep, Hemingway is hit or miss for me too! I have everything from 1 to 5 stars for his books.The Sun Also Rises is my favorite followed by A Farewell to Arms. For Whom the Bell Tolls I gave 1 star. I have several 2s too, and biographies about the man are to be avoided b/c they just make you more and more pissed at the guy.

Thank you for appreciating my review.


message 4: by Manny (new)

Manny When Hemingway is bad, he is really bad. I have purposely not read this one because I am aware of the slaughter scenes, and frankly I don’t want to read them, nor do I feel they deserve to be read. Such cruelty because one can is not a positive to the human heart. Thanks for the thorough review. I was not aware of some of the other aspects of the book. Still it doesn’t deserve to be read.


Chrissie Manny, it could have been so much better!


message 6: by Faith (new)

Faith Justice Thanks for the review, Chrissie--I think I'll skip this one. Hemingway is a product of his times and the hyper male milieu of war. Like Teddy Roosevelt, he provides a conundrum for me. I admire his writing and his adventurous life, but society has (generally) turned away from rampant disregard for animal life/glorification of the great male hunter. Both men deserve to be remembered for their good works and their flaws (in the eyes of modern society) put in context, but not emulated.


Chrissie Faith, you express yourself so very eloquently! I agree with your sentiments.


message 8: by Faith (new)

Faith Justice Thanks, Chrissie!


Chrissie Faith wrote: "Thanks, Chrissie!"

I wanted to tell you what I was thinking when I read your message.


message 10: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks Considering that the last northern white rhino male has just died, yuck and fie on big game hunters!!


Chrissie Bad news for sure!


message 12: by Terris (new)

Terris Manybooks wrote: "Considering that the last northern white rhino male has just died, yuck and fie on big game hunters!!"

I saw that today too! Too bad :'(


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