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The Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson
How an Irish Lion Hunter Led the Jewish Legion to Victory

Denis Brian

With an Afterword by Alan Patterson

Cloth $26.95    |    978-0-8156-0927-8    |    2008

"John Henry Patterson (1867–1947) came from the Anglo-Irish military aristocracy and began his public career by bringing down the famous man-eating lions of Tsavo. He went on to distinguish himself in the Boer War, as a white hunter and bon vivant (possibly also a ladies’ man), and as a friend and safari companion of Theodore Roosevelt. By the outbreak of World War I, he had become strongly Zionist, and in that war he led a Jewish supply unit at Gallipoli and a Jewish combat force in Palestine. He never thereafter gave up his Zionist activities, being one of the organizers of the Jewish Brigade in World War II and dying only a month before Israel became independent. Readers could appropriately celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of modern Israel with this book—either that or the new Indiana Jones movie, for Patterson and Jones would have got along famously."

"Brian delivers a charming biography of modern Irish hunter and hero Patterson by highlighting his wide range of achievements: from hunter to war hero to family man. Patterson is portrayed as a most ambitious adventurer, risking his life during multiple African safaris—including an East African hunt in which he bested the man-eating lions terrorizing railroad workers—as a commander in WWI, and a fierce, unlikely warrior for Zionism. Brian offers personal letters between Patterson and his wife, Frances, which show the light-hearted and expressive side of this otherwise tenacious man. Coupled with Brian’s extensive research, it’s difficult not to be drawn into this multi-faceted account of a driven hero and his time. Chapters are chronological but also topical, making his long and varied career easy to index. The first full-length biography of Patterson’s life, it’s also provocative, insightful and thorough."
Publisher Weekly

In this biography of Colonel John Henry Patterson, Denis Brian reveals his subject to be a composite of diverse identities. An Irish-born soldier, lion hunter, bridge builder, East African game warden, author, man-about-town, and Zionist, Patterson’s life is a fascinating story, and Brian’s well-researched account gives a revealing look into the ebb and flow of circumstances that produced such a colorful character.

Brian begins the narrative with Patterson’s assignment in East Africa, where lion attacks were terrorizing workers on a railroad project. With the sure hand of the storyteller, Brian details accounts of Patterson quelling the rebellion and killing the lions himself. The colonel’s indomitable energy and courage become a consistent theme in the book as the author traces Patterson’s life from his days as a British socialite to his command of the Jewish Legion of volunteers who helped drive the Turks out of Palestine.

Patterson spent most of his later years as an ardent Zionist, working for the creation of a Jewish homeland until his death in 1947, a year before the birth of the state of Israel. Drawing on an impressive range of sources, Brian’s biography of this "Righteous Gentile" is an incisive portrait of a key figure in both Israeli and colonial British history.

Denis Brian is the author of The True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Ernest Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him and Murderers and Other Friendly People: The Public and Private Worlds of Interviewers.

Visit Denis Brian’s blog with a discussion of his book, The Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson.

6 x 9, 280 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography

The Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson

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