Shadows along the Zambezi


It's a great read. I recommend it to all!  Well done Diana.

B. Rank - U.K.,WhatsApp, April 14, 2024.

Outstanding Movie

This would make an outstanding movie with Attenborough cinematography, Wilbur Smith action, and DiCaprio reprising his role as a former Selous Scout in Blood Diamond.

Ant W. - New Zealand, WhatsApp, April 14, 2024

Great book!

Shadows along the Zambezi is a great book about a country that tries very hard to protect its animal life. Written as a suspense novel, it is a page turner.

Grace Dotson Webster, Facebook, June 3, 2022.

Enjoyable Book

I thoroughly enjoyed this book especially as I am familiar with the setting. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Africa and wildlife.

Margaret Finn, Facebook, June 3, 2022.

Excellent book

This is an excellent book.

Antionette Taljaard, Facebook, June 3, 2022.

Five Stars

A tension filled book about elephant poaching in Zimbabwe.

 Cherop,, June 17, 2020.

A rip-roaring adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat

I love this book so much that I have bought additional copies to give to family members as gifts. Diana M. Hawkins, who was born in Rhodesia and still has family in Zimbabwe, writes from personal experience. Her characters feel as if they were friends writing to you from the continent of Africa. After reading this book in hard copy and again in digital, I knew that I needed to take the time to recommend it to others. Diana M. Hawkins must've done a great deal of research about the wildlife, who are also featured as characters in this book. I began reading a chapter about the elephant family the American character was tracking to the granddaughter of one of my friends. She grabbed my Kindle and started to read the whole book from the beginning. She is a bright 10-year-old, and she finally gave me back my Kindle. The book begins with a horrific incident that is replaying in South Africa in the present. It follows people who want to save wildlife and the people of Zimbabwe. Equal time is given to poachers, traffickers selling to Chinese businesses, and corrupt officials in Zimbabwe. It's a rip-roaring adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You might learn something, as well. I don't want to give anything more away. I just suggest you treat yourself to this book.

Marty Snowden,, August 24, 2019.

Hard To Put Down

I found this wonderful book to be absolutely engrossing. It is obvious from the first pages that Diana M. Hawkins has intimate knowledge of the interior workings of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and all its intricate politics. Her characters and their stories are so compelling that you feel them, even the conscienceless villains who squander the gifts of the land which come from God. Without including any spoilers, the picture painted is so vivid that it draws in all the reader's senses. The politics are timely as Zimbabwe's neighbor, South Africa, has not learned from Zimbabwe's mistakes of the last few decades and are repeating the egregious land grab tactics that starve their own constituents in the electorate. Thus, this book is very hard to put down. As a suggestion, get all your chores done before you begin reading.

M. Snowden,, June 18, 2019.

Mesmerizing Africa

Sitting down with Shadows along the Zambezi I was immediately transported into the mesmerizing Zambezi wilderness; the sounds, sights, smells and mystique that is undeniably unique to the African continent. Novelist Diana M. Hawkins’ mastery of the descriptive narrative reveals the close-knit social structure of the African elephant and its habitat in an authoritative but eminently readable style. At the same time, the author highlights the very real and tragic plight of these magnificent leviathans as humankind’s insatiable greed for wealth from ivory decimates whole breeding populations. Into this rich but disturbing ecological milieu, the author has masterfully woven a tale of courage, determination and romance, borne out of empathy and common purpose. Political depravity and its impact on innocent lives in today’s Zimbabwe permeates the story as two conservation-driven individuals venture into the dangerous realm that is the illegal international trade in ivory. Suspense, action, love . . . ingredients that will transfix and enthral the reader to the very last page of a very commendable book.

Gerry van Tonder, author, researcher, historian, Barnes &, May 2019.

I so enjoyed this book

I so enjoyed this book, and towards the end I could not put it down only finishing at 2 am! Having lived most of my early life in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, so many places had a lot of meaning to me. Diana’s knowledge of every detail in this book is incredible. Sadly, so much of this story is fact and very true. It made me cry and at times it made me smile. I hope that it might awaken the world as to what is going on in many African countries, and instead of so many people burying their heads in the sand, perhaps they might stand up and do something. Smuggling and hunting are very soon going to leave the world a very sad place when there are no animals left. Now I am off to read her next book 'Shadows over an African Heart.'

Dulcie Beak,, November 27, 2018.

A love story so cleverly written

Shadows Along the Zambezi is all-at-once a fascinating look at Zimbabwe, an education, an exciting adventure, and a love story. It is so cleverly written that you feel intimately associated with the characters, and the country, and at times it is difficult to take a break because you want to find out what happens next. It is also noteworthy that the author knows every little nook and cranny in that part of the world when she talks about the plight of the white farmers the streets, roads, rivers, animals (particularly elephants), and the people. An excellent-star read!

Norman Currey,, September 25, 2017.

Five Stars


Bok Boy,, September 4, 2017.

Loved it, a real page turner!

The mystery and intrigue all through the book kept me spellbound.

Avalon,, August 25, 2016.

Four Stars – A must read!

A tender love story set against the horrors of the wholesale slaughter of elephants, Shadows along the Zambezi is part love story, both human and animal, history lesson and an eye opening and unsettling look into the greed that can drive humans. The author grew up in Zimbabwe; the intimacy with the setting serves the reader well--no surprise therefore that a genuine love of place and habitat is evident. Readers unfamiliar with the world of ivory poaching will not be able to look at these magnificent creatures ever again in the same way. A page turner that will hold your interest from start to stop!

Anonymous,, July 25, 2016.

Five Stars – Couldn’t stop reading it.

Hope there is another book by this author, couldn't stop reading it.

Amazon Customer,, May 26, 2016.

Five Stars – Enjoyable!


Mrs Dorothy Arnett,, 22 May 2016.

Could not put it down

Her knowledge of the country is incredible and attention to detail. Being born in Zim I could not put it down. This review was given to me by my husband Andrew who was born in and grew up in Zim until the family had to leave when Mugabe came to power.

MollyG,, 9 April 2016.

A tale of Africa with a ring of truth

Highly recommended for fans of African historical fiction, and also for anyone who wants to better understand the on-going threat that poaching poses to the wildlife of Africa. “Shadows along the Zambezi” is the thread of a fictional story woven into a broad tapestry of actual events. It tells of valiant efforts by a few to stop the wholesale poaching of Zimbabwe's wildlife, especially elephants. This poaching enriches Zimbabwe's corrupt, dictatorial government under Robert Mugabe. It also tells of the suffering of the Zimbabwe people and the harsh treatment of farm owners under the Mugabe regime. Although written as fiction and set in 2008, sadly much of the story is based on real events that still are occurring in Zimbabwe to this day. Zimbabwe continues to be run by its autocratic, aging despot, Robert Mugabe, and his inner circle of lawless government ministers, abetted and supported by the Communist Chinese government. Mugabe's government, then and now, sacrifices the people and the wild animals of Zimbabwe in order to increase its hold on power and to allow a few to gain great personal wealth by dispossessing others. “Shadows...” is a tale of Africa with a ring of truth, highly recommended for fans of African historical fiction, and also for anyone who wants to better understand the on- going threat that poaching poses to the wildlife of Africa, a relentless slaughter opposed by only a few brave souls.

Paul Forbes,, March 06, 2016.

Fast-Paced, Fact-Based, Inspirational African Action Adventure.

This book is simply a marvelous blend of fact-based fiction, skillfully woven into an exciting African adventure. What fun! I was hooked from the first paragraph. For those from Rhodesia, (Zimbabwe), you are going to love how the author incorporates fond memories and familiar places like, Karoi and Kariba. Getting to know the people, their lives, trials and strengths is captivating. This book has heart and soul and includes just the right amount of romance sprinkled into the danger and excitement. If you've never been to Africa, this book takes you off the beaten track, providing behind-the-scenes glimpses into the multi-cultural lives of the people in Zimbabwe. You'll get a sense of how they bravely face tremendous day-to-day hardships in their own lives, and yet they still manage to go to great lengths to protect and preserve the dwindling animal population. These tenacious, courageous survivors go to great lengths so as to remain in the country that they love. Travel through the bush, vicariously observe and learn about the habits and lives of various elephant 'families' because this book not only entertains but educates and perhaps even inspires.

Lux,, February 14, 2016.

This might not be to many people’s likings but the sad truth. I look forward to her next book

Di has a good knowledge of the Zambezi Valley as well as Africa as it is today, this might not be to many peoples liking but the sad truth. I look forward to her next book.

Alistair Holmes,, February 2, 2016.

Five Stars

Intensely gripping insight to the horrors of life in Zimbabwe.

Silly,, January 13, 2016.

A fantastic Story

Knowing the area, it is a fantastic story, but actually much of it is true and not fiction as one would think. A brilliant book. Brought back many memories.

D Bester,, 7 December 2014.

There is so much more to be told and understood and this author is very good at doing it

This is a writer who could go from strength to strength. She tells a memorable and exciting tale against a very real background. There is so much more to be told and understood and Diana M Hawkins is very good at doing it . I am looking forward to her next book.

Zizi, Amazon, November 8, 2014.

Good read and informative

I like to read about south Africa. This book ticked the box; very good read and informative. I’d like to read more.

Steve Green, Amazon, Oct 16, 2014.

Love Conquers (nearly) All

Although this is basically a love story, the author has woven it into a novel that clearly expresses her love for the country of her birth and of its wildlife. Having grown up in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) myself, the story brought back poignant memories of a lifestyle second to none. Sadly, the story also reminds us of the country’s continuing slide into anarchy and the ongoing destruction of its natural habitats. As does the author, I greatly admire the efforts of the people involved in the protection and preservation of Zimbabwe's beautiful wildlife and its environments. I take my hat off to you all! Altogether a good, entertaining read. I look forward to the sequel.

Mr. K. B. Barnes (UK), Amazon, Oct 9, 2014.

Big disappointment

I managed to finish this book, but it was a great disappointment especially after the high star rating given in reviews. The subject of the book, the poaching is important to read & learn about, but the writing didn't flow & I could feel nothing for the authors characters.

Mrs. M. Collins "Donny" (Spain), Amazon, August 22, 2014.

Excellent read

This was an excellent read couldn't put it down. It took you to the highs and the depths, very well written.

Phillip Morrall, Amazon, 16 July 2014.

A very good book

Memories, some good, some bad. What more can I say?

Mr. Anthony king, Amazon, November 21, 2013.

Highly Recommended

This has got to be one of the best books I have read that highlights the plight of elephants in Zimbabwe. The author has used her vast knowledge of elephants and the Zambezi Valley to weave a story of horror, intrigue and love in an oppressed country. The story is fast moving and very believable. Highly recommended for those concerned about the future of these magnificent animals - and who enjoy a good book. Well done.

Ken Tilbury, Amazon, November 20, 2013.

An exciting story of Zimbabwe

Diana is a talented writer, and I enjoyed the story! It was an exciting experience to read, and the background of Zimbabwe makes it unusual. Well done!

Stylus, Amazon, November 11, 2013.

White Gold

Elephants have roamed the Zambezi Valley for thousands of years. A young American biologist, studying them, is soon enthralled by these gentle giants as much as she is with a young farmer pilot who shares her passion. The author immediately captivates the reader, engaging them in the day-to-day lives of specific herds, while naming and describing individuals. We are engrossed to the point of almost 'bonding' with these animals, so the possibility of any harm befalling them becomes personal. The couple is faced with the danger of a confrontation with a ring of armed poachers amidst an ever-growing political unrest. Tensions rise to fever pitch. Man's greed knows no bounds as poachers butcher these priceless relics for their ivory, the 'white gold' of the East. An impossible situation develops, ingeniously portrayed as devious tactics between sinister characters turn chaotic. The author brings into play her experience of flying along with descriptions of some of the most breathtakingly beautiful country in Africa. This virtually factual fiction will steal the hardest of hearts and hopefully make the world more aware of the ongoing plight of the African elephant. Up against lawlessness, corruption and ruthless government-backed thugs, rampant unemployment, and starving masses, what chance do these magnificent animals have in a country run by a deranged despot, which is on the brink of anarchy, and facing total collapse? Yet there are still a few who try to make a difference. It would not surprise me if we soon see 'Shadows along the Zambezi' on the big screen. In fact, rumor has it that there are already rumblings!

Greer Noble "Wild Africa" (London & Kenya), Amazon, Sept 30, 2013.

Have not read it through

Probably sometime I will go back but it just wasn't the kind of story I expected but I didn't read enough to get enthusiastic yet at least.

Galilee M. Weldon, Amazon, August 15, 2013.

Zambezi Shadows

What a wonderful read! "Shadows along the Zambezi" has a compelling story line, a strong sense of authenticity due to the author's growing up in Zimbabwe, a clear clash between the values of wealth and power and the value of life itself. Diana Hawkins exudes love and respect for the elephants and her knowledge of these wonderful creatures, their daily habits and relationship patterns is extensive and comes through in vivid and realistic detail. This book has made me read with new eyes recent articles in the New York Times about the horror of elephant slaughter. In 2012 I was fortunate to spend a week in Zimbabwe visiting in several communities, my first step into Africa. In the midst of their troubles, the Zimbabweans are people with great heart and great hope for the future. The author is definitely a spokesman both for the people of that land and for the elephants.

Nancyo, Amazon, July 8, 2013.

Good background but too many commas

This book gives some great background information on Zimbabwe's political and social turmoil, as well as on the nature of elephants along the Zambezi. What the author needs, however, is an editor! The book is rife with punctuation errors, including an abundant misuse of commas. At times there are two periods, open-ended quotation marks and even a main character's name, Piet, is misspelled as Pete several times. So many errors distracted me from the storyline itself.

Elizabeth S. Hulsey (Hillsborough, CA USA), Amazon, June 17, 2013.

Worth Reading

Enjoyable reading, seeing I lived in Rhodesia for over 25 years I have become a collector of any books written over Rhodesia now of course known as Zimbabwe

Rob, Amazon, 18 April 2013.

Atrocities in Zimbabwe Come to Life

I have been interested in the plight of Zimbabweans under Mugabe for a very long time, primarily because of my teaching responsibilities...and I think far too few Americans truly understand the horrors that have happened there to native white Zimbabweans and many of the native blacks, too. This book, although fiction, is able to enlighten them through an easy-to-read story and if I were still teaching I would encourage my students to pick up this book. The emotional and physical turmoil is there. The roller-coaster ride of the currency is there as well as its final capitulation into uselessness. I was captivated by the story involving the confiscation of the farms and the poaching of elephant tusks - the romance wasn't even necessary to me. I had an understanding of the plight of the people, but not the story surrounding the wildlife. Diana Hawkins makes her points while bringing life to this aspect of the story. I learned a lot about elephants and I always think a book is much better if one learns something after having read it. This is one of those books!

B. Diekema, Amazon, March 11, 2013.

Eye opener

My wife read this book, and here is her review: Shadows Along the Zambezi is an interesting account of what has gone on in Zimbabwe. Hawkins weaves a human love story amidst the heartbreaking story of the fate of the elephants and the struggle for survival in a frightening political atmosphere. The depiction of the elephant herds is beautiful, and "witnessing" the birth of an elephant is heartwarming. The book was an eye opener for me.

Richard C. Highfield, Amazon, February 8, 2013.

Healing love story emerges

Shadows along the Zambezi is set in 2008, Zimbabwe, as the country’s reels from numerous politically inspired terror campaigns, including the often violent, land distribution scheme. Its main characters are Piet van Rooyen, a commercial farmer, turned environmentalist, and Jessica Brennan, an American wildlife biologist, conducting a study of elephants in the eastern Zambezi Valley. They are joined by Piet's former neighbor, Angus McLaren, another dispossessed farmer who narrowly escapes with his life when his farm is overtaken by so-called veterans of the independence war. Together the trio wins over the local National Parks chief, Hector Kaminjolo, and professional hunter, Blair Nisbet, who both step in to champion their cause. Despite the terror that surrounds them, Jessica and Piet are reminded of the best of human nature as they discover love. Against a backdrop of kidnappings, murders and international intrigue, their healing love story emerges

Anonymous,, February 78, 2013.

Great Book

Very informative about what was going on in Africa at that time. Very engrossing story

Francis T Gardner SR, Amazon, February 7, 2013.

Five stars Excellent Read

Having lived in Zimbabwe from the early 50's until 2002 this book peaked my interest straight away especially as I lived in a farming area and experienced the farm invasions and general upheaval first hand - This book took me back to it all, it is very well written and the authors knowledge and love of elephants and Zimbabwe shines through, right from the start of reading this book I was transported back in time, so descriptive was this book, I had difficulty putting it down - Many of my ex Zimbabwean friends will be getting this book in their Christmas stockings this year.

Lesley Strasser, Amazon, January 24, 2013.

A good read

I just finished reading this book. From this book I have gained a better understanding of the atrocities that are occurring in Zimbabwe to both humans and elephants. It is a page turner from the first chapter to the end. The action-packed adventure is about relationships with people to people, people and elephants, and elephants to elephants. It's a great eye opener and a good read.

Chris Kessler, Amazon, January 20, 2013.

Dynamic, Terrifying and Brutal

In Zimbabwe, Africa, when environmentalist and anti-poaching enforcer Piet van Rooyen, and wildlife biologist Jessica Brennan discover the freshly mutilated corpses of an entire elephant herd, they realize they are dealing with a group of professional poachers. In a country where greed, corruption, savagery and lawlessness extend to the highest authorities, they know they are in for the fight of their lives if they are to save the other herds in the Zambezi valley. Along the way, they discover love. Although the characters in this book are fictional, most of the appalling and shocking events depicted actually have taken place and are still happening today in Zimbabwe. Author Diana Hawkins shows her extensive knowledge and love of elephants and the illicit poaching operations that may yet wipe them all out. Dynamic, terrifying, and brutal, the book will draw you in with its poignant romance, the almost human bond the elephants have for their herd members, and the stunning scenic descriptions, and you'll find it almost impossible to put it down.

Trish Jackson (Florida, US),  Amazon Verified Purchase, January 15, 2013.

Good Read

Enjoyed from the very first page. Ms. Hawkins shows that she is familiar with Southern Africa and is not afraid to show some of the warts, but she also shows the beauty of the countryside. The love story was a bonus.

Anonymous, Barnes &, January 4, 2013.

Gripping, intriguing story of love and passion in Africa

This is the story of a man, tortured by his past, and driven by his passion to protect Zimbabwe's wildlife from poachers and corrupt government officials, while rediscovering love and trust. I highly recommend this book to all who love animals and those who protect them.

Delmar S. Hawkins, Amazon, January 4, 2013.

Interesting Story Line

A lot of the history about Zimbabwe's troubles under President Mugabe. I have enjoyed reading this book.

Jeannette Kelly, Amazon, January 2, 2013.

BLUE INK Professional Review

In Diana M. Hawkins’ atmospheric thriller, love blossoms between an elephant researcher and the head of the Zimbabwe Wildlife Protection League as they battle poachers and corrupt government officials. In 2008, seven years after the brutal murders of his wife and children during one of the violent farm invasions sanctioned by President Robert Mugabe, Pieter van Rooyen focuses his energies on trying to save the wild animals in Zimbabwe’s national parks. Their beleaguered and underfunded staffs are virtually helpless to stop rampant poaching, as we see in a gut-wrenching scene where a dozen men wielding automatic rifles slaughter a family group of elephants for their ivory tusks. Jessica Brennan, a doctoral candidate studying elephants in the Zambezi Valley, joins forces with Pieter to pursue the poachers, who are working in collusion with a phony Zambian travel agency supplying a Chinese diplomat. Hawkins grew up in Zimbabwe, and her firsthand knowledge is evident in vivid evocations of its wildlife and landscapes – and in her bitter depiction of the shambles Mugabe and his cronies have made of the country. Hawkins’ skills as a novelist are sharp as well: Jessica and Pieter’s pursuit leads to her kidnapping and a confrontation in a Zambian warehouse, both excitingly described. The capable assistance they receive from the Zambian police quietly makes the point that not all African governments are in bed with wildlife killers. The ups and downs of Jessica and Pieter’s relationship aren’t as interesting as the interactions of the elephants that Hawkins lovingly delineates, but their romance makes a serviceable engine to drive the plot alongside the satisfying tale of the poachers’ comeuppance. What will linger in readers’ memories is the beautiful, sorrowful portrait of Zimbabwe, a nation whose leaders have squandered its magnificent natural resources for short-term political and financial gain.

Shadows Along the Zambezi BlueInk Review, January 2013.

A must read for anyone interested in Africa

This book is a must read for anyone interested in Africa! I have family in Zimbabwe so I've long since followed the plight of the Zimbabwean people and the toll Mugabe's so- called reforms have taken on them and the local wildlife. What I especially like about this book is that despite the fact that it is fictional, it gives you a real feel for what it is like to try to survive in an environment made hostile by the very people that are supposed to protect you, both for the Zimbabwe citizens and its wildlife. I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the elephants. Their gentle souls and amazing spirit in such a tenuous time really shone through and touched my heart. The other thing I really like about this book is that it really is more than another adventure/romance story, it is a journey of how two people stand up and say this isn't right and we're not going to stand for it. Jessica and Van Rooyen really do give em hell... they also give each other hell, but I'll let you read and find that out on your own. I'm giving a copy of this book to everyone I know!

Lori White,, January 2, 2013.

Real Page-Turner

What a wonderful book! The first page grabs you and won't let go! Subsequent pages keep you spellbound while educating you about the wildlife of Zimbabwe, especially elephants. The love story is just the gravy!

Dorothy A Jones,, December 22, 2012.


I read Shadows along the Zambezi and enjoyed it. Educational for people who don’t know Kariba and Zimbabwe and good for those of us who lived in Kariba to hear the old familiar names.

Fern Graham, Facebook, December 5, 2012.

A wonderful story

Shadows Along the Zambezi is an engaging story by an author who has put her heart and soul into every page. This novel has it all - romance, action, humor, and heartbreak. The author's love for her homeland of Zimbabwe and her enchantment with African elephants shines through in every detail.

Joanna "Jojo" (Afghanistan), Tucson, Arizona,, November 17, 2012.

This book doesn't disappoint

Shadows along the Zambezi is a perfect blend of romance, history, drama and nature. The story is well paced and the characters believable and relatable. Hawkins with her beautifully penned words dramatically paints the African landscape and shows the real horrors of the ivory trade. In reading this novel, I laughed, I cried, but most importantly I came to understand the political and economic issues facing the people of Zimbabwe. Hawkins clearly shared the history and current political environment that stokes the ivory trade and killing of some of the world's most magnificent animals. It's good to know there are people whose mission it is to protect the elephant and others who support the people of Zimbabwe so they can live in concert with wildlife instead of conflict. I highly recommend getting this book. It doesn't disappoint.

Margaret Burkholder, Tucson, Arizona, Barnes &, November 7, 2012.