Killing giraffes in the name of sport — and the Empire

An image from James Greenwood’s ‘Wild Sports of the World’. It was a different kind of book to his previous undercover work. It is an extraordinary book, writes our columnist. And it could only have been written at the highpoint of British imperialism. It is soaked in the rhetoric of Empire and is just about the last period of time in history in which somebody could write about ‘sports’ of the world as constituting only the hunt of big game.

This week, just as the House of Commons in London plunged ever deeper into the Brexit abyss, a beautiful hardback book revealed itself in the second-hand section of Chapters bookshop in Dublin. It was a glorious and timely coincidence.

The book was more than 120 years old and was rooted in those years when the British Empire was at the zenith of its power.

The book is James Greenwood’s Wild Sports of the World and a badge pinned inside its cover told the story of its origins. It recorded that on April 5, 1896, the president of the local Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Henry Whitwell, presented it as a prize at a meeting in Birmingham.

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