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A compact volume identifying common bird, mammal, snake, lizard, insect, tree, and flower species found in the parks of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Princeton University Press publishes a wide range of good East African field guides, on mammals, amphibians, snakes, and birds, as well as selected parks and preserves.
In the West, many know of the pioneering work of Jane Goodall, whose studies of these apes at Gombe in Tanzania are justly famous. Less well-known, but equally important, are the studies carried out by Toshisada Nishida on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Comparison between the two sites yields both notable similarities and startling contrasts. Nishida has written a comprehensive synthesis of his work on the behavior and ecology of the chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains.
Tanzania and Kenya
Elephants in the Sarangeti National Park, Tanzania. Courtesy of David Berkowitz, Flickr.com.
"A magnificent contribution not just to contemporary African studies but also to the art of great historical writing. Anyone with an interest in either ought to read this book" (Historical Journal). A perennial required reading for Penn's African history courses.
"Babar for adults" (New York Times) follows a family of elephants through their daily lives and their seasonal activities. This 2000 reprint of the 1988 edition includes an update on the family's recent life.
Shetler writes a scholarly oral history of the region's "mythical time" and a more traditional history of the park's development. "She takes the reader walking with elders across the landscape as they recover their memories" (African Studies Review).
There are many great East African fiction writers with Ngugi wa Thiong'o being the most prominent, but Penn alumnus M. G. Vassanji brings a special perspective to Tanzanian life as an ethnic South Asian born in Kenya, raised in Tanzania, and now teaching in Canada.
Originally published in 1972, so very dated in many ways, but still a great East African travel journal. The Penn Libraries' copy is the old 1972 Dutton edition bound with Eliot Porter's photo essay, “The African experience.”
Giller Prize-winner M. G. Vassanji provides the reader an emotional novel of love and loss. Kamal Punja is a physician who has lived in Canada for the past forty years, but whom we first meet in a Tanzanian hospital. He is delirious and says he has been poisoned with hallucinogens. But when Kamal finds a curious and sympathetic ear in a local publisher, his ravings begin to reveal a tale of extraordinary pathos, complexity, and mystery. (From the publisher.)
Female Lion in Nduto Conservation Area, Tanzania. Photograph by Diana Robinson. Obtained on flickr with a Creative Commons license.