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It is a given that if you love animals or have interest in conservationism, you will enjoy this book, but I honestly doubt there are many people that would not really be delighted with this true story of a man who makes a special connection with a herd of elephants in order to save their lives. Lawrence Anthony calls up vivid images of his preserve, Thula Thula, to the point that you feel that you have been there and the combination of his efforts to save the wild animals, the adventures and misadventures of his three canine companions, and the strange political climate he must maneuver through make this narrative as action packed and fast paced as any adventure novel. The real life characters, both animal and human, that populate this book are all unique and interesting and I ached to know the rest of their stories when the book ended. Anthony works hard to try to understand the underlying motivations of the humans and the animals he works with and has some surprising insights into elephants, dogs, rhinos, snakes, plants, and people scattered throughout the narrative. This would be a fascinating tale coming from anyone, but the book is so well written with imagery that effortlessly calls up the characters and the settings in your mind and made me want to want to listen without pause.
In addition, Simon Vance gives a truly masterful performance. His voice is quite pleasant anyway, but he really takes "ownership" of this book and I felt like I was listening to the author himself tell me of his personal adventure.
I don't give many 5 stars, but I have no reservations with this book - it's first rate all the way. I would recommend it to anyone over the age of 10. (There are some scenes in the book that would be a bit traumatic for young children, but older children will love the book as much as adults.)
One Note to Animal Lovers: As an animal lover myself, I am always attracted to books about the animal kingdom and also always hesitant to read them because I hate to read about any mistreatment of animals. This book does have its difficult moments, but the overarching feel of this story is so very positive and has so many interesting insights about the natural world that I think you will find it is worth reading and will leave you inspired and not depressed.
Discovering Lawrence Anthony within months of his death (March 2012) makes me hope that Audible will make his other books available at some point in the near future.
100 of 102 people found this review helpful
STORY (personal memoir) - Lawrence Anthony is "The Elephant Whisperer." He lives in South Africa and runs an animal preserve called Thula Thula. He is persuaded to adopt a herd of rogue elephants to save them from being killed, and he establishes a form of communication with them. Though they still live in the bush and remain wild, he learns from them and earns their respect. They form a strange bond, and his life is forever changed and enriched.
Much of this story is about the day-to-day running of Thula Thula. Anthony must deal with poachers, fire, Zulu tribal politics, animal attacks and running a preserve teeming with all kinds of creatures. In a place where only the fittest survive, there is the beauty of life but also the sadness of death. I'm an animal lover and must admit to shedding a tear or two, but I'm so very glad I heard this story. I was impressed with Anthony's patience and kindness, and I was amazed by the intelligence of the elephants! The message I take away from this book is one which is mentioned in the beginning, that there is much more to life than yourself, your family and your own kind. Makes me think...
PERFORMANCE - He does a good job. I liked his African tribal accent.
OVERALL - I'd recommend this book to everyone except younger children, due to some intense scenes. There is no profanity. Animal lovers who are softies (like me) will cringe and cry a little, but the book is wonderful so don't let that hold you back!
UPDATE AFTER THE BOOK - Mr. Anthony died in 2012 of a heart attack. According to news articles, two herds of elephants mysteriously traveled for 12 hours to his home shortly after his death. It had been approximately 18 months since their last "visit." They stayed two days, as if paying their respect, and then returned into the bush. Yet another example of the unusual communication and bond Anthony had formed with the elephants.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful