In 1953 Hemingway and his fourth wife returned to the scene of his safari with his second wife in 1933. Look subsidized the trip with lavish fees: $15,000 for a picture story of the hunting, with photos by Earl Theisen, and another $10,000 for a 3500-word article that appeared in the magazine in January 1954. The government of Kenya, then a British colony, persuaded Philip Percival (who’d hunted with Teddy Roosevelt and with Hemingway on the first safari) to come out of retirement in the hope of reviving tourism which was being threatened by the Mau Mau rebellion.

After the safari, Percival, Theisen, Hemingway’s son Patrick, and his Cuban friend Mayito Menocal—who’d actually shot the leopard that Hemingway posed with on the cover of Look—went home, and Hemingway was left alone with his wife Mary and a cadre of loyal retainers. The action of this “fictional memoir” takes place...