Saturday Snippet: An American with the Shangani Patrol

The so-called Shangani Patrol was a legendary encounter in 1893 between colonial forces and the Matabele tribe of Lobengula in what is today Zimbabwe.  The entire patrol was annihilated, after having killed more than ten times its own number in an epic fight through the bush.  In colonial Rhodesia, it was regarded in the same light as the fall of the Alamo in Texas, or the doomed fight of the three hundred Spartans at Thermopylae. In this excerpt from his book “Scouting on Two Continents“, the world-famous American scout Frederick Russell Burnham, a legend in his own lifetime, describes some of his experiences

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Saturday Snippet: Between silk and cyanide

One of the most remarkable autobiographies to come out of World War II was that of Leo Marks, who became the code specialist for Special Operations Executive (SOE), the clandestine operations department set up by Winston Churchill with the directive to “set Europe ablaze”.  SOE supplied arms, money and operators to resistance movements all over occupied Europe and throughout the Far East.  It made many mistakes and experienced many failures, but grew into a massive organization that made a measurable contribution to victory. Many years after the war, Marks wrote about his SOE experiences.  He battled for almost a decade to get

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The Panama Canal, faster than usual

Courtesy of Old Salt Blog, here’s a time-lapse video of a passage through the Panama Canal.  The trip lasts 11 hours, but the video takes less than 7 minutes – much more palatable in our high-speed world!  Note the “locomotives” on either side of the ship, hauling it through the locks.  They’re partly visible from time to time, as in the video ‘cover image’ below, on the right of the ship’s bow. The digging of the Panama Canal remains one of the great adventure stories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It advanced not only navigation, but also medicine,

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Saturday Snippet: Repairing a capitalist motorcycle in communist Yugoslavia

Tim Severin is almost legendary among modern explorers and historians.  From his college days, he’s specialized in studying an ancient voyage of discovery or some other historical travel narrative, and recreating it using technology of the period and in as practical a way as possible.  In doing so, he’s dispelled many myths, but he’s also proved that many stories thought to be myth and fable were, in fact, firmly grounded in reality.  (Two of the most fascinating are the legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece, and Ulysses’ voyage from Troy to his homeland of Ithaca, both re-enacted aboard a galley built in

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Mad dogs, Englishmen, Texans, visitors, and the midday sun

Today sees the annual Hotter ‘n Hell 100 bicycle race in and around Wichita Falls, Texas.  It’s so named because the temperatures usually hover at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit at this time of year, and the full-length race covers 100 miles (with shorter distances for less ambitious competitors). As I write these words, the competitors are pouring out of the city and onto regional roads, heading out on the opening leg of the race.  It’s relatively cool this year, thanks to some unseasonal rain showers, which are very welcome to those of us who live here, but resented by many riders

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A snippet for my Western fans

The third Western novel in my Ames Archives series, to be titled “Gold on the Hoof”, is complete, and currently going through the alpha/beta reader process.  Look for it next month, God willing.  (I’ll also be republishing new e-book editions of the first two books in the series.  They’re currently available in paper editions.) As a teaser for readers who like my Western series, here’s a brief snippet from the book. The feed barn was a different matter. The proprietor smiled unpleasantly as he said, “Prices have gone up. You owe me a lot more than that now.” Walt stiffened. “A deal

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Teaser

Here’s an excerpt from my current project – one of five books I’m working on (at various stages of research, investigation, writing and editing) at the moment. Please let me know in Comments if you like it. The noonday sun hung directly overhead, its heat seeming to sear through the cotton ghutra over his helmet, turning the metal into an instrument of torture that threatened to boil his brain. Taghri cursed softly to himself. The traders’ caravan had plodded its way through the heat for the past week. It would reach the city tonight. It couldn’t be soon enough for him. He

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That’s a heck of a ride!

Hawaiian surfer Koa Smith was in just the right place at exactly the right time to ride the wave of his life – and the whole thing was caught on video from two unique angles. Perched precariously on his surfboard, the 23-year-old from Hawaii rode a wave off the coast of Namibia, on the western shore of Africa, for 120 straight seconds. He stayed upright for nearly a mile (1.6 kilometers) as he traveled through an unheard-of eight barrels – the hollow formed by the curve of the wave as it breaks over the rider’s head. Almost as amazing, Smith and videographer

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Go away!

An elephant enjoying himself in the Chobe River lets tourists know, in no uncertain terms, that they’re too close and need to go away. I’d say he got his message across loud and clear! Peter  

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