Blood, Sweat & Fears

True Stories of Aussies in Africa

Non-Fiction - Travel
344 Pages
Reviewed on 01/15/2022
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Author Biography

Upon retirement, Brian Bassett looked for opportunities to pursue his desire to explore and learn, with cameras in hand, he and his wife Sue travelled to Africa in 2010 largely as tourists. He was captivated by Africa and her people. He knew he had to return, not just as a bystander, as someone deeply engaged in conservation projects. He recognised the potential of the countries and was determined to make a difference.

Africa was a natural choice, not only were a serious number of the animals vulnerable, but so were many of the communities themselves, those people attempting to protect the eco-systems, with distressingly limited resources with which to do so. ​

On a comprehensive range of subsequent trips, he completed an entry-level Ranger's Training Course, accompanied a wildlife veterinarian onto private game reserves and national parks throughout Southern Africa, and volunteered on numerous research projects in several countries.

He has amassed a considerable knowledge-base of African flora and fauna and bush-crafting during the months of travel throughout nine different countries in Africa. With this new knowledge, each trip takes him to increasingly more remote and exhilarating destinations, with inherent pleasures of meeting new people, closely interacting with wildlife, and producing a confidence he is making a modest but valuable contribution to the conservation of the natural world.​

    Book Review

Reviewed by Philip Van Heusen for Readers' Favorite

Brian J. Bassett loves Africa and wildlife. He shares his love in Blood, Sweat, and Fears. Brian’s wife, Sue, shares his passion and adds her love of photography. This book gets readers so close to wild animals that it might have an alternative title of Encounters of the Wildlife Kind. Brian and Sue have had many unforgettable encounters with wild animals during their trips to Africa. Reading this book will not only thrill you, but it will make you feel as if you are on safari with Brian and Sue. What would you do if your tent was rustled by an enormous African bull elephant during the night? Brian shares this experience as well as seeing thirteen white rhinos while on a walk through the bush. Can you imagine standing close to a wild white rhino that might charge at any moment while you have no protection? This book will get your adrenaline flowing!

Blood, Sweat and Fears is an adventure book in which Brian shares much information about the wildlife of Africa. You will learn about conservation camps and the animals that grace the lands. Brian writes most fascinatingly. Reading this book made me feel like I was standing right next to Brian as he helped Dr. Peter and his team perform medical work on wild animals. I felt like I was actually in Africa while I was safe at home, far, far away from massive, wild animals. Reading this book will probably introduce you to some animals you have never heard of before. The photos by Sue Bassett add to the story. If you love animals, you will absolutely love this book. If you are into conservation, this book might spur you into taking a trip to help with African conservation. I couldn’t put this book down.

K.C. Finn

Blood, Sweat & Fears: True Stories of Aussies in Africa is a work of non-fiction in the travel, memoir, and adventure subgenres. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Brian J Bassett. In this fascinating true-life account, we meet author Brian and his wife Sue on their travels from Australia to Africa, where they transform from wildlife enthusiasts into advocates for welfare and research. The book collects together some very exciting and emotional stories about different encounters with the wildest and weirdest animals of Africa, whilst also introducing us to the culture and attitudes of many different African countries.

Author Brian J Bassett pulls no punches in describing the dangerous realities of travel and exploration in Africa, and it certainly made me glad that I was reading from the comfort of my armchair and not there in the fray! I really admired and adored Brian and Sue’s growing commitment to conservation, and that was a message which really formed the true heart of the work as a whole. The narrative technique balances enthusiasm and excitement with a realistic sense of danger and kindness toward protecting wildlife, which will surely inspire anyone reading the book to participate in the cause in some way too. I think that “Why Rangers Really Wear Khaki” was probably my favorite chapter of all, although each one had its own humor, style, and central message. Overall, I would certainly recommend Blood, Sweat & Fears for fans of travel books and those wishing to know more about Africa in general.

Astrid Iustulin

What would you do if there was an elephant next to your tent? What if you saw a black or white rhino up close? Would you have the courage to track a lion? These are just some of the adventures that Brian J. Bassett tells in his book Blood, Sweat & Fears: True Stories of Aussies in Africa. Starting from Bassett's first trip to Africa, Blood, Sweat & Fears recollects the most incredible events that happened to him and his wife during their travels in this fascinating continent and their progressive commitment to it. Through a series of stories and photographs taken by the author's wife, Blood, Sweat & Fears introduces us to dangerous animals and all the unpredictable situations that can happen during a visit to Africa. Are you ready for a memorable journey?

Blood, Sweat & Fears is not a book for the faint of heart, but an adventure lover will treasure it. Brian J. Bassett relates his experiences in an exciting way that will thrill the reader. Although I have never been to Africa, Bassett's descriptions are so clear that I could imagine events and places as if I were there with him. He has a knack for relating critical situations, such as his close encounters with big cats. These pages are among the most impressive of the entire book. I must also praise the many stunning photographs that evoke the exotic atmosphere of Africa. Blood, Sweat & Fears is the perfect book for anyone who wants to discover this beautiful continent. I recommend it to readers with the spirit of adventurous travelers.

Sefina Hawke

Blood, Sweat & Fears (True Stories of Aussies in Africa) by Brian J Bassett and photographed by Sue Bassett is a non-fiction travel book best suited for a diverse audience of young adults and adults with an interest in Africa. Brian and Sue Bassett share their experiences in Africa as they progressed from mere visitors to researchers to rangers. The husband and wife pair shares their journey with a mix of words and images to educate, amuse, and amaze. Are you ready to follow Brian and Sue Bassett on their African exploration adventure?

Blood, Sweat & Fears (True Stories of Aussies in Africa) by Brian J Bassett is a well-written book filled with breathtaking images that provided the perfect lure to grab and hold my interest. I have thought about how Africa would be an interesting place to visit because the normal Africa travel books never managed to inspire me enough to actually look into the practicalities of traveling to Africa. This book did not suffer from such a deficit; instead, it pulled me in and made me feel like I was a part of the journey. I liked how the book has parts that made me laugh and parts that really grabbed my interest, yet the book also shared the nitty gritty of what it is like to be a visitor and volunteer in Africa. I really enjoyed the photographs that accompanied the narrative as they really helped me to create a clear picture in my mind of the couple’s experiences. Overall, this book is a worthwhile read that I would recommend anyone considering Africa as a destination should read before traveling there!

Leonard William Smuts

The African continent is renowned for its magnificent scenery and unique wildlife. It was to Africa that Brian Bassett and his wife Sue were first drawn in 2010, armed with cameras and open to experiencing it in its many facets. This and their later adventures gave rise to Blood, Sweat and Fears, an aptly titled record of their experiences. They return, not as conventional tourists, but as volunteers to assist in conservation and research. In doing so, they encounter Africa’s animals, both large and small, plus a wide variety of birds. They meet wonderful and hospitable people while experiencing life in the bush first-hand and without the frills of luxury accommodation. They assist wildlife veterinarians in darting animals for research and conservation purposes, also undertaking basic game ranger training. It is an arduous but rewarding time, leading to close encounters with dangerous species such as lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard, and rhino. Some of these interactions are a little too close for comfort, reminding them that nothing in Africa should be taken for granted - certainly not personal security. The book concentrates on their activities in South Africa and Kenya, expanding their already considerable knowledge and understanding of Africa and all its complexities.

Brian Bassett is a retired engineer from Australia, who has developed a passion for Africa. Blood, Sweat and Fears is a vivid and at times dramatic account of a magical time spent in the African bush, usually in remote areas and very close to nature in the raw. Extensive travels expose Brian and Sue to the full spectrum of the African experience, from culture, food, language, and friendship to the stark realities - and at times cruelty - of the animal kingdom. The book exposes the evils of poaching and the valiant struggle of conservationists to ensure the survival of the many endangered species. In that regard, tourist revenue is vital to fund both conservation and provide work opportunities for the local population, thus avoiding a clash between humans and nature. Africa is not just about the “Big Five” but provides a wide array of smaller but equally interesting animals, trees, plants, and colorful characters. The text is enhanced by a variety of photographs by Sue, which depict both the animals and scenery, rounded off with an excellent glossary. Brian captures all of this perfectly in a highly entertaining and descriptive account, making this essential reading for those who love Africa and its inhabitants.