Hermaphrodites or Mercenaries

Have picked the final book for my Africa Reading Challenge. In the end it was a toss-up between Sydney Brenner’s My Life in Science and Horn Of Africa by Philip Caputo. At one stage in my life I knew more about the vulva of the nematode worm than is healthy. Specificially, I knew more about its development than is required for a budding journalist. The reason, before you get any strange ideas, is that Caenorhabditis elegans is one of biology’s model animals and the vulva is a particularly good place to study programmed cell death in embryonic development if you happen to be a student of molecular biology. Brenner, a South African, was the chap who came up with the idea of studying nematodes so I thought maybe his memoirs might show a different side of Africa to the slightly worthy tomes I’ve been dealing with so far.
But in the end I picked Horn of Africa because it involves a foreign correspondent being signed up as a mercenary. Thrilling stuff indeed. I suspect it will turn out to a heap of tosh – despite a glowing quotation from the Dallas Morning News on the cover – but it fills my brief of not being self-consciously “about” Africa. And you never know, it might turn out to be as good as The Dogs of War.