A Rock and a Hard Place

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 20 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

I enjoyed this book. The author takes us on a rollicking ride retelling his time as a PhD geology student in Africa. Geology information is dispersed throughout the story. The author made me feel like I was there with him. The descriptions of the landscape, rocks, people were well detailed. The author had multiple close calls with danger. He was able to survive with a little bit of knowledge and a lot of luck. What a great adventure. Thank you for allowing me to review an advanced copy.
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Delightfully adventurous, reading George Zelt's nonfiction narrative of his decades in geology and petrology is akin to enjoying the wild adventures of his heroes, such as Mark Twain, Jules Verne, and Jack London. Mr. Zelt is well blessed with both the "stories to tell" and the talent and wit to express them well for the edification of readers, many of whom are "armchair travellers" enjoying vicariously.
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The author wrote a great account of the personal journey they embarked on.  The honest and detailed writing made it easy for the reader to feel invested in their journey.
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George Zelt spent most of his life before he turned thirty searching for specific rocks in the Kalahari Desert/Namibia and Botswana.  He was trying to prove that the rocks in this area were not what prior books on the area were from.  It's way too technical for me to try and explain it, but the man whose he is trying to prove wrong is a professor at the University where he studying to get his PhD.

The early part of the book is really a travelogue by a 1980s vagabond who visits Rhodesia, South-West Africa and Apartheid South Africa (SA).  This part of the book is really a study in the sociology of the end of the British Empire and the Colonies they created in Southern Africa under the tutelage of Cecil Rhodes. He helps to show that except in the big cities and the areas settled by the Boers, people didn't make  much of the Apartheid laws.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the later parts of the book are Zelt's explanation as to all he is doing and what a good guy and pleasant person he is and is especially happy to be doing things that would get him in trouble with the government if they knew.  But considering he spends most of his time out in some water-less desert, who would have cared.  Once he leaves SA, he makes sure that everyone he meets or hangs out with, how 'cool' he was.  It gets boring real fast.  

A good writer should know when to stop, George Zelt didn't learn this or did his editor.
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Oh no no. The first chapter started with Mr. Zelt and his friend illegally mining rocks in modern-day Namibia. This is 100% me, and please call me overly sensitive. But as corrupt as the African government may be, it rubs me the wrong way to see a group of white men just doing whatever they want regardless of the law.

I'm very very sorry, cannot finish.
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