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Zara's Tales.
Perilous Escapades in Equatorial Africa.

Photographs and text by Peter Beard.
Alfred. A. Knopf, New York, 2004. 176 pp., 100 color and black-and-white illustrations, 6¾x9¼".

Second Edition.

Peter Beard's adventures in Africa began in Nairobi, Kenya, in the 1950s, and, over the course of 40 years, have become legendary.

Born in New York City and educated at Yale, his love affair with the continent began in earnest during those school years when "to get away, to grow up, to graduate from graduating" he went to Kenya and purchased 40 acres of Mbagathi Forest at the very edge of Karen Blixen's famous coffee plantation, naming it Hog Ranch. There he lived for 30 "fast-moving, explosive, dramatic, surprising, shocking, frustrating, exhilarating, primitive, satisfying, down-to-earth, animal-ridden" years.

Photography had been a creative medium for Beard since his youth, a way of exploring the world around him; in Africa, it became a means of processing his experiences. He fastidiously kept diaries over the years into which he pasted contact strips and prints, drawing and scribbling both alongside and on top of the photographs, often mixing mud or blood or any other element of his surroundings right onto the pages.

Beard was involved in numerous conservation programs ranging from the relocation of rhinos to the study of crocodiles at Lake Rudolf. Each of these episodes were documented, forming the basis for his classic titles. Zara' s Tales is a verbal recounting of some of his most memorable stories, ostensibly his daughter's favorite tales, told in the first person and amply illustrated.

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