* In a real-life odyssey, Scottish-born Donald MacIntosh recounts tales from the magical fabled rainforests of pre-independence West-Africa
At the beginning of the 1950s, the interior of West and Central Africa was still known to most of the outside world as the 'White Man's Grave' and consisted of vast expanses of mysterious and threatening primeval forest. When Donald MacIntosh, 23-year-old Gaelic-speaking Scottish forester, was offered a position in Nigeria in 1954, it was a dream come true and he found himself posted to the hot, cloying humidity of those fabled lands. During the next 30 years he was to wander through some of the most remote areas of West Africa where he operated as a forest botanist. There he listened to the tales of ancient Africa from the lips of hunters, fishermen, chiefs and witch doctors from a vast diversity of tribes in myriad encampments. He drank palm wine with them and attended their village dances and ceremonies under the tropic moon. He had many adventures with the creatures of the forest, from the magnificent leopard to the instantly fatal spitting cobra. The sinister arcanum of primitive Africa is never too far away from the surface in this book, encountering a host of characters along the way - with exotic names like 'Magic T. Sperm' and 'Famous Sixpence' - whose stories are all told here.
Although Macintosh's African life was full of adventures and dangers, he never exaggerates them, and writes with a fluidity and understated grace which makes his book a pleasure to read. By turns beautiful, poignant and very funny, Macintosh rarely misses the mark, and this memoir should become a classic of the genre. --Toby Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. - Toby Green, Amazon.co.uk
Excellent... [Macintosh's] book, one of the surprises of the year, is a slender but richly entertaining memoir - Sara Wheeler, DAILY TELEGRAPH
A poignant and humourous storyteller of the West African bush to rival Gerald Durrell. - TLS
He writes with a charming insouciance that celebrates an Africa before big business tore the heart out of the rainforest. - SUNDAY TIMES
A superb raconteur. Like the cobras which inhabit this remembered world, his stories move with grace and speed - DAILY MAIL
This is a book written by someone who loves Africa, and who can write with real wit - WATERLOG
His fragrant book is a compost of anecdote, lore, survival tips and anthropological tidbits. The simplicity of life in the forest is matched by the charming simplicity of MacIntosh's prose. He is a natural writer, if such a thing exists, and his book is that best of all genres, a hybrid. Part memoir, part travelogue and part history, at its heart it is a threnody for lost trees, lost characters and lost youth ... he has the same profound and almost loving relationship with the African forest that Thesiger had with the sands of Arabia - OLDIE
[MacIntosh's] stories for West and Central Africa may sometimes be tall, but he can tell them. MacIntosh listens to chiefs, witch doctors and hunters telling their magical tales, drinking palm wine with them or lying out under the stars while drums beat a tattoo and weird ceremonies take place. There were some hair-raising encounters with cobras, vipers and homicidal buffalos, but MacIntosh, whose romantic attraction to the forest never falters, takes it all lightly - LONDON MAGAZINE
Donald MacIntosh is the son of a Perthshire woodcutter and studied forestry in Argyll. He spent 30 years as a tree prospector/surveyor in the rainforests of Liberia, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Nigeria. He now lives in the South of England and is still homesick for the Africa he knew.