IN BRIEF

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The Independent Culture
The Danakil Diary: Journeys Through Abyssinia 1930-34 by Wilfred Thesiger, HarperCollins pounds 18. In 1930 Thesiger was invited to attend the coronation of Haile Selassie; after the ceremony he spent a month hunting, following the river Awash into hostile territory patrolled by ferocious tribesmen. "Don't go further down the Awash than Bilen," Sir Sidney Barton warned the 20-year-old. "It would rather spoil the effect of the coronation if you got yourself cut up by the Danakil." A Frenchman had been murdered there three years previously; all that remained of the body - one leg - had been taken to Addis Ababa and formally decorated by the Emperor.

Fascinated by the area, the people, the game (Thesiger's lust for hunting makes strange reading now) and the mystery of the Awash's unknown destination, Thesiger organised another expedition after leaving Oxford. This fascinating narrative is culled from his diaries, supplemented by letters to his mother: "I am very careful about boiling all water and sleep under a net and take quinine."

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