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David Bristow received 174 rejection slips before Jacana published Running Wild. The Daily Maverick asked why he persevered...

Running WildFollowing in the footsteps of Jock of the Bushveld, Running Wild is an African story for all ages. It is a tale of resilience, of courage and endurance, a book that will uplift, enrich and warm every lover of the African bush.

The story of Zulu is based on the life of a real stallion that lived on the Mashatu Game Reserve. The versions of the story of Zulu are about as numerous as the people who recount them. The horse and the myth were at times indistinguishable. This account of his life has been stitched together from all those stories.

In February 2000, tropical Cyclone Leon-Eline resulted in a storm so severe that the horses of Mashatu broke out of their enclosure and roamed wild and free for days before returning. Zulu was the only one that did not return. He was thought to be lost to the scourges of the Bushveld.

Years pass before Zulu is discovered to be not only alive and well, but running as the lead stallion of a herd of wild zebras. He is recaptured and returned to the safari stables as a much bolder and wiser stallion – knowledge he passes on to the other horses as well as the humans of Limpopo Valley.

David Bristow has a degree in journalism. He is one of South Africa’s first full-time travel photojournalists and was the editor of Getaway magazine. David has written more than 20 books about Africa, taking a three-year sabbatical mid-career to earn a master’s degree in environmental sciences.

As well as travelling from Antarctica to Alaska, Hillbrow to the Himalayas, he has ridden horse safaris in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Kenya. David now lives on a lake close to the sea near Cape Town with his partner, one cat, two surfboards, three canoes and four bicycles. He has three children and a grand one.

Upon hearing that Bristow received 174 rejection slips before Jacana okay’d his manuscript, the Daily Maverick’s Tiara Walters was intrigued as to why exactly David didn’t just. give. up. Here’s why…

DM: I don’t understand. Why not just self-publish after rejection slip number 83, for argument’s sake?

DB: I really believed in the story, simple as that. I just had to convince someone else. As soon as Jacana heard the premise, they jumped at it, smart people.

With regards to self-publishing, or not in this case, it was about shelf space and numbers. If your book isn’t housewives’ porn or young adult fantasy, you don’t want to go that route unless you are serious about selling books. Making them is the easy part. This is not my first book by a long way so it was not what they call a “vanity-publishing” exercise. But it was my first paperback, so it needed to be a commercial success. I’ve thrown a lot of marketing resources at it, from serious media launches to talks at book clubs.

I think the story of Zulu has the potential of becoming a modern-day equivalent of Jock of the Bushveld. It’s the rollicking, true story of an African stallion that bolts from his stable during the cyclonic floods of 2000, joins a dazzle of zebras in Mashatu Game Reserve and, remarkably, rises to the position of lead stallion.

DM: So what was the problem, then? Were you not photogenic enough? I heard this might be a thing in the unsparing world of contemporary publishing now.

DB: Yup, ugly as original sin. My girlfriend calls me OS (although that might just be os) (os n. Afrikaans for bovine male. Sometimes used for pulling vehicles or carrying things). But also publishing is like that well-trotted-out saying about capitalism: it’s a kak system, but it’s the best we’ve got. Which I guess is my way of saying they know nothing. The accountants and marketing people make all the decisions. And they think only in boxes (very small ones usually), like, does this book fit neatly into one of our sure-selling categories?

DM: Is Zulu the only horse ever known to have “gone” zebra? Did you look for other, um, “horsebra” stories? Perhaps it’s not entirely fanciful to picture a dazzle of zebra running wild through the Namib, displaying suspiciously desert horse-like traits.

DB: In the wilds, yes, this is unique. In captivity zebras and horses, as well as zebras and donkeys, have been crossed. Crosses were common amusements in Victorian circuses, but it was always a zebra male and female horse (zorses). The other way around is not known to ever have occurred. Not even the equine scientists could tell me why.

Continue reading their conversation HERE.

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The rhino war in South Africa has entered its 10th year. How can we win this battle?

The rhino does not belong to us. It belongs to no one. All that we own is the responsibility of ensuring that it persists and that future books on the rhino are written about its expanded range and not its declining future. – Yolan Friedman (Endangered Wildlife Trust)

How is South Africa going to sustain the cost of securing rhino while the belief continues to persist that the enemy lies elsewhere in Southeast Asia?

The Walkers believe that the problem actually lies in South Africa’s own backyard.

This book discusses corruption and the criminal justice system, the need for more community engagement and the costs of protection. It also looks at how far have we come since the rhino wars in the 1980s and the rhino trade debate.

We have to shift from the negative to an element of the positive. People are tired of seeing dead and dying rhino. There is some optimism due to the excellent work being undertaken by the state and the private sector at many levels in security, tourism, community involvement and environmental education, as well as NGO support.

There are no easy solutions to this battle, but all is not lost.

It is the opinion of the authors that the private rhino owner, often working in cooperation with the state, will emerge as a key factor in the struggle to win the war. In order to have a victory, we need to have a battle. The time has come when one has to be ‘soft enough to wear silk and tough enough to slay the dragon’. Rhino Revolution testifies to the many people doing just that.

The rhino war in South Africa has entered its 10th year, and last year saw 662 rhino killed in Kruger alone – and over 1000 in total for South Africa. Clive and Anton Walker, authors of the bestselling Rhino Keepers (2012), have once again come up with a fresh, new look at the ongoing rhino crisis. With magnificent photographs and afterwords by John Hanks and Yolan Friedman.

Clive Walker entered the battle for the rhino with the founding of the Endangered Wildlife Trust in 1973. He co-founded the Rhino and Elephant Foundation and the African Rhino Owners Association, and served on the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group for close on 14 years. He served as a member of the South African Parks Board from 2000 to 2006.

Anton Walker, Clive’s son, grew up largely at Lapalala Wilderness, the reserve that was to become an important rhino sanctuary and a world-class environmental school in the bush. Anton joined the permanent staff of the reserve in 1996 and was the general manager of the 45 000-hectare sanctuary until October 2017. He has since taken up the position of director and curator of the Waterberg Living Museum in the Waterberg of Limpopo. His knowledge of both species of rhino is extensive in all areas of management, capture, monitoring, field operations and aerial surveys. His special interest lies in the fossil record of the rhino.

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"Few peers, and no superiors" - Jacklyn Cock's Writing the Ancestral River a lyrical and trenchant biography of the Kowie river

Jacklyn Cock has penned a love letter that is as hopeful as it is elegiac. Drawing on family connections to the Kowie that go back to the 1820 settlers, Cock asks big questions about the relationship between nature and culture, between humans and other forms of life, and about the place of rivers in human history. It is only by rethinking our relationship to nature that we can save ourselves.

Jacklyn Cock has made the story of a small and fairly insignificant river into a metonym of the biological glories of South Africa and the ecological devastation they have endured, and continue to endure. The result is at once lyrical and trenchant. As a history rooted in the landscape of South Africa, it has few peers, and no superiors.

Writing the Ancestral River is an illuminating biography of the Kowie River in the Eastern Cape. This tidal river runs through a formative meeting ground of peoples who have shaped South Africa’s history: Khoikhoi herders, Xhosa pastoralists, Dutch trekboers and British settlers. Their direct descendants in the area still interact in ways that have been decisively shaped by their shared history.

This is also a natural history of the river and its catchment area, where dinosaurs once roamed and cycads still grow. The natural world of the Kowie has felt the effects of human settlement, most strikingly through the development of a harbour at the mouth of the river in the 19th century and a marina in the late 20th century, which have had a decisive and deleterious impact on the Kowie.

People are increasingly reconnecting with nature and justice through rivers. Acknowledging the past, and the inter-generational, racialised privileges, damages and denials it established and perpetuates, is necessary for any shared future. By focusing on this ‘little’ river, the book raises larger questions about colonialism, capitalism, ‘development’ and ecology, and asks us to consider the connections between social and environmental injustice.
Jacklyn Cock is a professor emeritus in the Sociology department at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She has written extensively on environment, gender and militarisation issues and is best known for Maids and Madams: A Study in the Politics of Exploitation (1980).

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The Climate Crisis explores how people and class agency can change this destructive course of history

This volume reminds us that fossil fuel corporations, petro states and ruling elites are the key forces deepening the climate crisis.

Hurricanes like Harvey and Irma have once again demonstrated the ways that extreme weather events disproportionately impact working people, the poor and Black lives. The wealthy, meanwhile, take cover in their wine cellars on private islands. Only systemic change, led from below, holds out the hope for a safe and sturdy future.

This volume features some of the best thinking we have from the climate justice forces who are already mapping the way to that next world.’
— Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough, This Changes Everything, The Shock Doctrine and No Logo

Capitalism’s addiction to fossil fuels is heating our planet at a pace and scale never before experienced.

Extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels and accelerating feedback loops are a commonplace feature of our lives. The number of environmental refugees is increasing and several island states and low-lying countries are becoming vulnerable. Corporate-induced climate change has set us on an ecocidal path of species extinction. Governments and their international platforms such as the Paris Climate Agreement deliver too little, too late.

Most states, including South Africa, continue on their carbon-intensive energy paths, with devastating results. Political leaders across the world are failing to provide systemic solutions to the climate crisis.

This is the context in which we must ask ourselves: how can people and class agency change this destructive course of history?

Volume three in the Democratic Marxism series, The Climate Crisis investigates ecosocialist alternatives that are emerging. It presents the thinking of leading climate justice activists, campaigners and social movements advancing systemic alternatives and developing bottom-up, just transitions to sustain life.

Through a combination of theoretical and empirical work, the authors collectively examine the challenges and opportunities inherent in the current moment. This volume builds on the class-struggle focus of Volume 2 by placing ecological issues at the center of democratic Marxism. Most importantly, it explores ways to renew historical socialism with democratic, ecosocialist alternatives to meet current challenges in South Africa and the world.

Vishwas Satgar is a democratic ecosocialist and has been an activist for over three decades. He is an associate professor of International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He edits the Democratic Marxism series for which he received the distinguished contribution award from the World Association of Political Economy.

Book details

  • The Climate Crisis: South African and Global Democratic Eco-Socialist Alternatives edited by Vishwas Satgar
    EAN: 978-1-77614-054-1
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Watter plante is die vreemdste, grootste, kleinste, seldsaamste en lelikste op aarde? Botanicum beantwoord dié vrae en meer...

Botanicum is ’n pragtige volkleur boek wat ’n hele klomp raaisels om plante onthul.

Hoe het die eerste plante gelyk? Wanneer het die eerste woude gevorm? Wanneer het plante begin blomme dra? Watter plante is die grootste, kleinste, vreemdste, seldsaamste, lelikste en stinkste op aarde?

In Botanicum kan jy die mees eksotiese en veemdste plante bymekaar sien. Leer hoe plante al miljoene jare langer as ons bestaan en fassinerede dinge soos hoekom party plante groen is en ander nie en hoe party plante in water leef en ander in die lug hang sonder enige kontak met die grond.

Kom ontdek binne Botanicum die wonderlike planteryk in sy kleurryke, verrassende glorie.


The signs of invertebrates' day-to-day activities are all around us. Lee Gutteridge shows us where to look...

The Invertrebrates of Southern Africa

This book intensively covers a never-before-explored aspect of Southern African nature and is an essential new addition to the library of every nature lover.

It was researched and written over the last four and a half years to open a door to a little known micro-world that exists all around us. Invertebrates – which include commonly seen creatures such as butterflies, spiders, beetles, worms and scorpions – are everywhere.

The signs of their day-to-day activities are all around us if we know where to look.

The life cycles and behaviours of many animals are discussed, with a special focus on interactions between mammals and invertebrates – a fascinating subject in itself.

While working on this book, Lee Gutteridge spent many hours in the field with expert entomologists and arachnologists, many of whom commented that; even though they had spent a lifetime in the field, this experience, of invertebrate tracking, had changed the way that they see the invertebrate world.

With funding received from the Oppenheimer family, 250 copies will be donated to indigenous trackers, whose knowledge Lee appreciates and respects.
Lee Gutteridge is an experienced, enthusiastic and well-known wild life author, nature guide and trainer. With 25 years of experience in the bush, he has come to realise that guiding is not just about knowledge, but more importantly about how we share it with our guests from around the world. He personally trains for many well-known and highly experienced guide and tracker teams at some of the southern and central African region’s top lodges, with programmes focusing on a wide range of subjects including track identification skills.

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