This is the story of Peter McKenzie, and the setting is colonial Kenya at the outset of the Mau Mau Emergency. McKenzie grows up on the family farm and becomes a professional hunter. His life is idyllic, and there seems not a worry on the horizon. However, the Mau Mau terrorists and the ensuing emergency puts a grinding halt to everybody’s life in Kenya, especially farmers in rural areas. It also puts a severe strain on McKenzie and his new bride. McKenzie and his fellow farmers and professional hunters are forced to kill Mau Maus rather than buffalo and elephant. They go about it in a most cunning way, and Ruark’s descriptions of these episodes must count as the most vivid and realistic ever recorded.
This gripping story is based on Ruark's own observations of life in East Africa during the Mau Mau emergency. Ruark, ever the journalist, was hunting with professional hunter Harry Selby at the time, and this fictitious account is probably the best ever written on those dark days of colonial Kenya.
Here is what Harry Selby has to say about this book:
"Something of Value is a novel based on events that took place in Kenya Colony during the violent Mau Mau insurrection of the 1950s, an uprising that was confined almost exclusively to members of the Kikuyu tribe. Robert Ruark, the author, happened to be on an extended hunting safari during the early stages of the rebellion. Being a journalist at heart, he took time off from the hunt to visit scenes where particularly brutal murders had occurred and was able to interview firsthand those involved—white settlers, people from various local tribes including the Kikuyu, police, army personnel, government administrators, and even some of the insurgents themselves who had been captured by security forces in the forests. This enabled him to produce in a very short space of time a book that offered a balanced picture of the background and causes that precipitated the events of Africa's first colonial uprising of the twentieth century. In my opinion Something of Value is certainly his best novel. It is a powerful, gripping, and sometimes shocking novel that presents an enlightening glimpse into the lives of all sections of the population in Colonial Kenya fifty years ago."— Harry Selby.