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The Lost World of the Kalahari

4.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0156537063
ISBN-10: 0156537060
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“No one can write more feelingly of Africa. An experience not to be missed.” 
— Elspeth Huxley

"An outstanding book -- I rank Laurens van der Post with the best writers of English-this book confirms my constant admiration and the nobility of his mind."
— Raymond Mortimer, Sunday Times

"I hope all those who are appalled by the destruction of Hiroshima will read this book-for a greater understanding of what man is capable of doing to his fellows in time of war."
— Daily Telegraph

"No one can write more feelingly of Africa -- an experience not to be missed." 
— Evening Standard
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

The distinguished explorer and writer recounts his rediscovery of the Bushmen, outcast survivors from Stone Age Africa. Faced with constant attack from all the peoples who followed them, the last of the Bushmen have retreated to the scorching depths of the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. After a gruelling trek, van der Post finds the Bushmen, thriving in one of the world?s most inhospitable landscapes, with their physical peculiarities, their cave art and their joyful music-making intact. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest/HBJ Book
  • Paperback: 279 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Brace & Company/A Harvest Book (November 3, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156537060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156537063
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This was a wonderful book. Although, at times the author brought down the pensive, spiritual level with his complaints regarding the practical complications of his expedition, overall, this book is extremely moving. The only way you could get a better idea of life in the Kalahari is by going there yourself; he describes, in beautiful, vivid language, the plant and animal life of the desert, the variety of cultures, and the consequences of the European settlement. The book unravels like a mystery, with the mysterious Bushman always lingering just out of reach, a figure between reality and legend.
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Format: Paperback
An older friend of mine met Laurens Van der Post in Australia and described him as "a wonderful man." A large part of the joy of reading "Kalahari," his best-known book, comes from the experience of his transparent honesty and honest heart. His writing style is as wonderful as the man was--unpretentious, without "side," and ever positive and life-affirming. Van der Post did a fine service in revealing how trivial and unconnected our modern traits of cynicism and meaninglessness appear before the Bushmen's selfless creed. This is one of the great books of pilgrimage.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book immensely. It really stirred and awakened my imagination. At the time, I was planning a trip to Southern Africa, and after reading his book, the Kalahari desert became a must see for me. As well as the Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe which Laurens Van Der Post mentions in his book, as the place where he joined the other explorers before and after his trips. Great historical book. Excellent vivid and vibrant descriptions of the desert and the bushman. I also recommend "The Cry of the Kalahari" by Mark and Delia Owens.
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Format: Paperback
I stayed up until three AM reading this book. It's both gripping, informative and inspiring. Van Der Post starts out telling us about the wild Bushman, untamed or corrupted by civilization, almost extinct in his time, certainly gone by now. Then he regales us with a wonderful story about his expedition into the deepest dessert areas of the Kalahari to find the last living indigenous Bushmen. There is magic in this book, in the panoramic, images he paints of nature scenes and spiritual moments of insight and mystic wonder. Part of the goal of the expedition was to create a documentary for BBC. I'd love to find a copy of that to view. The mixture of the gritty reality of mounting and carrying out a real safari expedition, blended with the wonder and surprise the author shares makes this a very special book. We have so much to learn from history's lost indigenous cultures. Books like these help remind us of the different, incredible ways one can be human. If you like this, you will most certainly also like Original Wisdom, by Robert Wolff.
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Format: Paperback
van der Post has put his soul into the making of every sentence of this beautiful book. His words are polished to the un-self-conscious ornateness of patterns of rock burnished by wind.
Even if Spode were half as odious as the author portrays him, he would be a real pain to deal with. What van der Post does not seem to realize, though, is the necessity of this counterpoise; if he had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent him. Spode's sourness sweetens van der Post's aim.
The book overpowers as a sunrise does. You may shut your eyes or turn away, but there are rich beauties to savor. My only regret is the lack of photographs.
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Format: Paperback
Nobody captures the mystery and beauty of Africa like van der Post. This book is the first in a set of two (the second in the sequel is 'The Heart of the Hunter') documenting his journey into the remote desert and swamplands of Botswana, seeking Bushmen who still follow the original hunter-gatherer way of life.

There has been some question of the veracity of a few of the incidents he relates; in particular, one scientist questions the claim that one of the Bushmen said his people could communicate 'by wire' with each other over distances of multiple miles (it sounded like telepathy if I understood the description accurately). People know when the person they're talking to is receptive to their ideas and it makes sense that a Bushman would say something to van der Post, who is very open to concepts like this (consistent with Jung's hypothesis of a 'collective memory'). A scientist however, would project a more sceptical attitude which would make a person less likely to confide such and idea to him or her.

Another event that a westerner would question is their encounter with what his guides called 'the spirits' of the Tsodilo Hills. Without going into too much detail, a team of geologists from Columbia University had a similar issue with their equipment suddenly malfunctioning in a similar situation (documented in the book 'Fieldwork: A Geologist's Memoir of the Kalahari' by Christopher Scholz). Whatever the reason, equipment malfunctions in bushman sacred sites are not limited to van der Post's experience.

This is an excellent book. I highly recommend both this book and 'A Geologist's Memoir of the Kalahari' to anybody interested in Africa.
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Format: Paperback
Laurens van der Post is frequently and correctly cited for his effusive language and exaggerations, but this account of the Bushmen and their environs is fairly close to the truth and makes great reading. I ordered this copy to replace the one I lent to my professor of African Studies at the Air Force War College (which he kept). He thought it was one of the best expositions of the life and circumstances of the bushmen and based on my limited knowledge from classwork on the subject it seems to be on target.
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