Catalogue - Reprints (Africana General)
by Stanley Portal Hyatt
Books of Zimbabwe,
Facs. repro. 1974 edit. 301 pp; illus. 12 pp. photos.; new Publishers' Intro.
ISBN ISBNs 0 86920 004 6 (standard) and 0 86920 005 4 (de luxe).
A PUNGENT, perceptive and highly entertaining
account of trek-oxen, wagons and the ways of the transport rider
before the railways began to open up Central Africa.
Stanley Portal Hyatt came to Africa to seek his fortune during the 1890's, drove supply wagons through the virgin veld for some ten years of unremitting toil and was rewarded, eventually, with little more than fond memories, financial ruin and ill-health.
Hyatt writes fluently and knowledgeably about life on "The Road", about the unspoilt and sometimes savagely inhospitable countryside of early Rhodesia, about the skills and courage needed to get the wagons through. He writes lovingly of his fellow-riders, and of his animals. For contemporary society, and for commercially inspired "progress", however, he has nothing but bitter contempt.
The Old Transport Road is an informative and absorbing book. It is also a tribute to those who braved the trackless wilderness by ox-wagon - men who can legitimately be compared to the 19th century pioneers of modern America.
It is complementary to George Pauling's The Chronicles of a Contractor , which deals with another aspect of transport development in Rhodesia - the coming of the railways.
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