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American Hippopotamus [Kindle Edition]

Jon Mooallem , The Atavist
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In 1910, the United States—its population exploding, its frontier all but exhausted—was in the throes of a serious meat shortage. But a small and industrious group of thinkers stepped forward with an answer, a bold idea being endorsed by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and The New York Times. Their plan: to import hippopotamuses to the swamps of Louisiana and convince Americans to eat them.

The only thing stranger than the hippo idea itself was the partnership promoting it. At its center were two hard-bitten spies: Frederick Russell Burnham, a superhumanly competent frontiersman, freelance adventurer, and fervent optimist about America’s future—Burnham would be the inspiration for the Boy Scouts—and Fritz Duquesne, a.k.a. the Black Panther, a virtuoso con man and cynical saboteur who believed only in his own glorification and revenge. Burnham and Duquesne had very recently been sworn enemies under orders to assassinate each other. They’d soon be enemies again. But for one brief and shining moment they joined behind a common cause: transforming America into a nation of hippopotamus ranchers.

In American Hippopotamus, Jon Mooallem brings to life a historical saga too preposterous to be fiction—a bracing and eccentric epic of espionage and hippos, but also of a conflicted nation on the threshold of a bewildering new century, deciding what kind of country it would be, and what beasts it would eat.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 697 KB
  • Print Length: 71 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: The Atavist (12 Dec. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • : Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #110,507 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding. 30 Mar. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is quite the most amazing story. Beautifully written, and almost entirely unbelievable - yet completely true. Just a brilliant read.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Interesting, The larger than life characters were fantastic but essentially it is a story about something that never happened....
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  48 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proof that real-life is often stranger than fiction 23 Dec. 2013
By R. Atkinson - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Who would believe that two larger than life men, one a celebrated American scout and conservationist and the other a South African-German spy, each with orders kill the other in wartime, would meet for the first time while testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives in 1910 with a solution to the nation's much anticipated food crisis. And their solution? Import hippos and other African wildlife into America's underutilized national parks. Even back then the idea of America importing hippos and letting them loose in federal lands sounded loony, and yet editorials by respected American journalists embraced the concept. Although the bill ultimately failed, these extraordinary men nearly found the votes in Congress to make it happen.

This well-researched story is extraordinary and thoroughly entertaining. Mooallem gives the reader a good snapshot of both Major Frederick Russell Burnham, the "American scout" who was the model for the birth of the Boy Scout movement, and the "Black Panther," Captain Fritz Duquesne, a cunning psychopath who earlier in life had been sentenced to life in prison by the British and later was arrested by the FBI in what J. Edgar Hoover called "the greatest spy roundup in U.S. history." Interspersed are stories of Senator "Cousin Bob" Broussard of Louisiana, Theodore Roosevelt's African safari in 1909 and his almost successful attempt in 1917 to lead a U.S. Army Division of American Rough Riders into France, and the great quest of the New Food Supply Society to bring hippos to the bayou.

The one complaint I have with this story is that it lacks any photographs. Historical issues of Field and Stream include some great pictures of both Duquesne and Roosevelt on safari in Africa, and photos of Burnham and Broussard too are readily available. Given how easy it would be to add some of these to this ebook, the oversight is surprising.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating on many levels 8 Jan. 2014
By Tungsten Hippo - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Given my screen name, I almost felt I had to buy this book- and it was well worth the money and the time. There are indeed hippopotamuses in the book, but there is also a well-told biography of a fascinating man and history of events that are rarely covered in American history classes. I can almost guarantee that you will learn something new from this book, and have fun doing so.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What wonderful characters! 22 Feb. 2014
By Stephen Fleming - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved this book. Larger-than-life -- but real -- characters from a period in American history that makes everyone today look like thin paper cutouts. And I applaud the author for telling the story in less than 100 pages and being done with it, rather than trying to pad it into a 300-page book. Bravo!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dreaming Big 13 Feb. 2014
By MH - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This gallop through American history gives s glimpse of a time when big dreams seemed possible. This is a snapshot biography of two remarkable men, one with drive, talent and a sense of duty to his nation and the world; the other with drive, talent and a hunger for fame. This is one day placed read with two fascinating men. What a time they lived in!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Hippos and Men 10 Feb. 2014
By Cori C DiBiase - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A brilliant telling of an unlikely sub-plot in American history. The author manages to take a very complicated true story and make it clear and compelling.
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