I’ve been teasing the hell out of this book on my blog lately, but Jerry Johnson’s latest book “Ivory and Gold” is now available to purchase on Amazon. GO. BUY. IT.
In Mr. Johnson’s words: “An African adventure like no other. At the start of the 20th century the British East Africa Protectorate is a beautiful but savage country. A veneer of civilization overlays a prehistoric land where a man stays alive ‘by dint of his courage, daring, cunning, and ferocity,’ and can make a fortune smuggling ivory, gold and slaves from the jungles of the Congo to the black markets in Zanzibar.
Two American hunters, Kincaid and Gunner, are tossed back a hundred years in time and find themselves lost on East Africa’s Athi Plain where mischance – or great good fortune – makes them masters of a smugglers’ caravan on trek from the shores of Lake Victoria to the Uganda Railway at Nairobi, laden with £20,000 worth ($2.5 million) of illicit ivory, gold, and slaves.
To free the seventy natives held as slaves, they must survive assaults by askari military police, Arab slavers from Oman, Kavirondo tribal warriors, hired thugs in the streets of Mombasa, a lion’s mauling, and the mysterious wiles of a fierce and beautiful Baluba woman.”
There were a number of things that stood out for me when I originally read “Ivory and Gold.” First were the rich characterizations of the story’s two main characters – Gunnar and Kincaid, the American hunters that are taken from the Sandhills in Nebraska and transported to the Athi Plain. I always tell Jerry that I’m convinced he’s been hanging out with my uncles when I read his stories and essays – he convincingly taps into the idiosyncrasies of middle aged Midwestern men. The other thing that has stayed with me, way after the final midnight reading I had to finish the novel, are the lush scenes that Jerry paints. The adventure takes place in East Africa, a place of his childhood dreams, but his words make me crave a trip to the Sandhills as much as a safari adventure.
I think one of my emails to Jerry after reading “Ivory and Gold” said something like “where the hell did this COME from?” My curiosity was indulged in this blog post that Jerry wrote announcing the publication of his book and a narrative regarding the seeds from his childhood that had his fingers flying on the keyboard.
If you’re looking for an adventure story, this is one to buy. It’s a beach book, it’s something to crack open on a blustery winter day – this is a story that my sons will read to their children in the future.