Monday, April 15, 2013

Lions and War


Man-Eaters of Tsavo. Written by John H. Patterson. Published 1907.

When I was little my parents watched The Ghost and The Darkness. They didn't let Ryan, William, and I watch it until the next night, which surprised me. I'd heard a lot of screaming in it and other frightening things and we were NEVER allowed to watch scary movies.

The movie was a little frightening, but on learning it was a true story I was instantly interested. And for my eighteenth birthday my family took me to see the two lions which are in the Field Museum in Chicago. Since then I've gone two more times to see it and researched the story, which lead me to the book.

Written by John Patterson on his own personal experience, the story is about his time in Africa where he was sent to oversee the building of a railway bridge. While there, two man eaters began to attack the workers, killing them in the night and dragging them off to be eaten.
Patterson, a hunter, would sit up almost every night trying to shoot them but the lions always evaded him. Only adding to his problems, the Africans didn't take very kindly to having a British man overseeing them and some even plotted his death - which Patterson continually managed to foil.

Of course, in the end, Patterson killed both the lions. The first lion Patterson shot took two bullets - one wounding it in the leg and the other hitting its heart. (I believe, I have some of my facts mixed up since reading the book.) The second lion was shot, at most, nine times before he died chewing on a branch still trying to get at Patterson.

The book also has some other stories in it, the completion of the bridge and other hunting experiences of Patterson's. I never finished the book but plain to someday.


I've been planning on doing a movie review for awhile now. Awhile ago, my dad was watching a movie which I caught about five minutes in. But I was glad I sat down and watched the rest of it.

Von Ryan's Express. 1965. Staring Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard.

Set in German occupied Italy during WWII, the movie is about American/ British Prisoners of War being held in an Italian prison camp. Most of the Italians, however, are getting tired of the Germans and many of them have befriended the prisoners, including Col. Joseph L. Ryan (Frank Sinatra.)

Trying to win the trust of the British soldiers, Col. Ryan leads the men - and some of the Italians who were guarding them - on a desperate escape attempt to get out of Italy. However, they constantly run into Germans and finally end up taking over a German train, posing as Germans as they ride across the country. But when the Germans catch on, they try to make one final attempt to cross the border.

I've grown up watching war movies, but unfortunately few of the old ones like this. The characters were well done and one couldn't help pitying them and rooting for them.

This is one of the best war movies I've ever seen, slightly behind The Great Escape which will always be my favorite. 


  1. Interesting story of the lions. Sounds like Patterson had quite a few adventures during his time in Africa.

  2. Wow, that's quite an adventure. Seeing a lion barreling at me would be terrifying... even though I hope to spot a cougar out here sometime.