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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Bull offers real

Author joins fans tonight at Iconoclast

Express Staff Writer

Like an old fashioned adventure writer, Bartle Bull combines daring-do with wit and panache, all the while injecting fascinating history lessons and spot on characters.

His latest book, "Shanghai Station," is no different. Before page seven the reader is drawn in, longing to be where the characters go, to know more, to stay in tune, to keep reading.

His protagonists, a Russian Count and his son, are living in exile in the wild and racy ethnopolitcal city of Shanghai. Itís epic, fascinating and exceptionally readable.

Bull is appearing at Iconoclast books in Ketchum, tonight from 6-9 p.m., for a discussion of this new novel. This alone is cause for celebration as Bull is a fascinating character himself.

Three previous historical adventures are set in Africa. The trilogy began with the excellent "The White Rhino Hotel" in 1992. That volume, set in Kenya at the end of WWI, was a sexy tale immersing the reader in a gaggle of English expatriates, including Anton Rider, who is busily pursuing the married Gwen Llewellyn. Set in 1935, "A Cafť on the Nile" and published in 1998, finds safari guide Rider still obsessed with Gwen, now his estranged wife, while other group members carry on with their own self involved agendas.

"Itís rather naughty," Bull laughed. "My job is to have a bad imagination."

Finally, published in 2002, "The Devilís Oasis" is set in 1942, when General Rommel's desert war was romping across North Africa and into all the main characterís lives.

"Iíve always been interested in travel," Bull said recently. "I first went to Africa in 1959 to write my Harvard thesis on Rhodesian, now Zimbabwe. What all these books have in common is Colonial history, the layer of European with rich African culture boiling underneath. Itís the same in Shanghai, where it was the Chinese, the Brits and the French."

Often writers are quiet types, unable to put two words together in speech. Not so Bull, whose history reads a bit like one of his own characters.

British by birth, Bull was educated at Harvard and Oxford, undergraduate as well as Law School.

He is a member of the Explorerís Club and the Royal Geographical Society. He worked in Hong Kong for a trading company, was the editor of the Harvard Crimson, the host of a cable TV show, is the trustee and agent for the estate of Eugene OíNeill, and practiced civil rights law in Mississippi. He also has written for such papers as the New York Times, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal and a host of magazines.

Bull was the publisher and president of Village Voice newspaper in New York City from 1970 to 1976. That position, alone, would have taught him about adventure. As well, he was Robert Kennedyís New York City campaign manager in 1968, and worked on half a dozen other political campaigns.

And despite all of that extra curricular activity, Bull is a fiction writer who creates "wing ding adventure stories," according to the Boston Globe, and "pulse with entertainment value," according to the New York Times.

"When I finished the three African novels, I wanted another place that was exciting as Cairo was during WWII," Bull said. "Shanghai was a place where East meets West. It was just extraordinary."

So, itís this Bull whoís in Ketchum, skiing and showing up at Iconoclast to hang with some of his fans.

"Heíll read and answer questions," Iconoclast owner Gary Hunt said. "Itís a party, too, wine and cheese, meet the author. Heís cool. Heís got a big following around here, too."


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