LIVES: AFRICA

As a Reuters correspondent based in Nairobi in the early 1990s, Aidan Hartley was a member of a small clique of nomads who risked their lives reporting from some of the world's most hellish places. He trekked with Ethiopian rebels, watched Somalia collapse into famine and anarchy, and was an eyewitness to the Rwandan genocide. In between, he partied hard, made enduring friendships and agonized about the plight of the continent of his birth. Now he's written a lyrical, mesmerizing account called "The Zanzibar Chest: A Story of Life, Love, and Death in Foreign Lands." Wanderlust comes naturally to Hartley, 38: the son of a British adventurer who developed agriculture in Africa and Arabia, Hartley grew up in Tanzania and Kenya and fell into journalism in his early 20s. During his years in the field, Hartley lost four close friends to a mob in Mogadishu, two more in the crash of a hijacked Ethiopian jet and one to a heroin overdose. Hartley was lucky: he married, fathered two kids and now lives on a ranch west of Mount Kenya, not far from his birthplace. Except for a column in The Spectator, Hartley says he's through with journalism--though he'll clearly never get Africa out of his blood.