Most helpful critical review
A very light and poor read
on January 25, 2015
‘Nicholas Best tells an immensely entertaining tale’ – Max Hastings, Evening Standard
‘An erudite, amusing and, even, gossipy book’ – Nigel Dempster, Punch
‘Anyone with experience of Kenya, past or present, resident or tourist, will enjoy reading Happy Valley’ – Country Life
‘First class… quite hilariously funny’ – Melbourne Herald
If one were to believe the views of the above "distinguished" reviewers one would certainly buy it. I receved my copy as Christmas present and have just read it on a beach in Antigua -- what it was apparently designed for. It is not immensely entertaining. It is certainly not erudite but yes it is gossipy (anecdotal). Anyone with experience of Kenya has read all this elsewhere before and will not find it very enjoyable -- very soon I was anticipating the next hoary old tale and was seldom disappointed. Not funny at all let alone hilariously so.
A more energetic editor/publisher would have have checked many of the statements in the book. There was no rinderpest in Masailand in 1883 -- the cattle were dying of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia and rinderpest did not arrive in Kenya until at least five years later. A Duke of Portlan never served in the Kenya administration nor supported the settlers -- a future Duke did. Probably very few of the settler were strong in the arm and thick in the head and certainly none that I knew. Much credence is given to Meinhertzhagen throughout much of the book yet it is now well accepted that he was a romancer if not an out and out teller of untruths. And so on and so on. If you want to know more about Kenya read some of the source books -- your money will be better spent.