On Leopard Rock: A Life of Adventures

Written by Wilbur Smith
Review by Gordon O'Sullivan

The popular historical novelist and adventure writer Wilbur Smith, now in his eighties, has finally told his own story. On Leopard Rock is Smith’s first autobiography, although he has often pillaged his family history for some of his most famous books, particularly the hugely successful Courtney series.

In On Leopard Rock readers are taken on a whistle-stop tour of Smith’s life as Wilbur hunts, fishes, flies, drinks, hangs out with celebrities, womanises, and of course writes his multi-million selling novels. When he sticks to his adventures, of which there are many, the book is an entertaining read; Smith’s life has been so eventful that his escapades keep you turning the pages. On Leopard Rock is subtitled “A Life of Adventures”, and his autobiography would have been far more enjoyable if Smith had restrained himself to narrating those thrilling episodes. While he can be humorous and self-deprecating, Smith is overly keen to give the reader the benefit of his out-of-date opinions. Thus, for example, what he sees as political correctness is characterised as a blight on modern life, and critics of big game hunting are simply ignorant do-gooders. Unfortunately, this is a hit-and-miss memoir.