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Ivory, Apes & Peacocks: Animals, adventure and discovery in the wild places of Africa Hardcover – 6 Sep 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701186038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701186036
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 288,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Written by a consummate wordsmith, Alan Root’s enthralling memoir is the best true-life adventure story to come out of Africa for years. The final chapter, which describes Root’s last moments with Joan, I found almost too painful to read (5 star review)" (Brian Jackman Daily Telegraph)

"This is an entrancing book. Root is a natural story-teller, roaming East Africa before poachers began to decimate the wildlife. Against the staggering backdrop of East Africa’s landscape and wildlife, the darkness of its problems casts a growing shadow over this book... Luckily, Alan Root’s wonderful films remain, a testimony to the man of whom David Attenborough once said: ‘He made wild-life films grow up'" (Daily Mail)

"In a riveting memoir, Root offers far more than a few well-work anecdotes of cute, hand-reared animals who like to sit down to breakfast with you and curl up on the sofa after dinner...a truly compelling book, savage and sparkling by turns" (Kathryn Hughes Mail on Sunday)

"Root is aware that his magical life has ‘run parallel with a heartbreaking holocaust, as wildlife conservation has proved to be a disastrous failure’. This wonderful book can’t put it more honestly than that. Not only are the current generation of wildlife film-makers mere pygmies compared to Root, but soon they will not even be able to attempt matching his documentaries because the world he captured has ceased to exist." (Aidan Hartley Spectator)

"If Dame Daphne Sheldrick’s touching and romantic Love, Life, and Elephants has been climbing the bestseller lists in Britain and America, Alan Root’s Ivory, Apes and Peacocks is by far the deeper and more interesting read. The problems that beset Africa’s wildlife - population pressures, poaching, drought and disease - are all part of this story, though balanced here by Mr Root’s sense of fun and adventure" (The Economist)

Book Description

Breathtaking close-up look at Africa's animals and natural wonders from one of our great wildlife pioneers

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mr A Nut on 22 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having grown up watching documentary series such as Survival and graduating to the modern BBC series of 'Life' and 'Planet Earth' I was keen to read this autobiography of someone so involved in business end of the creation of such films. Alan Root's book gives us a wonderful insight into the adventures of the wildlife cameraman. I like to think that if i'd read this book twenty years ago, i'd have given such filming a shot myself, but am probably not brave enough! His narrative style and understated modisty of what must have been some exciting, and in places, truly terrifying events, result in a readable rendition of enviable adventure stories. The contents of the book seem to resemble an account of the Willard Price adventure books I enjoyed as a youngster. Root's obvious love of the flora and fauna come across in each chapter and I am found it a compelling read. For those who love natural history, the story of conservation as well as adventure, and would like to see 'behind the scenes' of those groundbreaking documentaries, this book is well worth it. My wife is now enjoying the book herself! It should come with a warning that it might make you want to say goodbye to health and safety and head into the wilds yourself to see what spots of bother you can get into. A great read!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jade D on 21 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a keen photographer and lifetime fan of wildlife and associated documentaries I found this book to be a perfect add on to my interest in the subjects. The writer is humorous and honest and tells a good tale. The subject material is treated fairly and with some sympathy. Well worth a read and for dipping into time and again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stel on 12 April 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A must read. Breathtaking, enthralling, gripping, thrilling, funny, self-deprecating, laconic, tragic, a veritable page-turner ... think of any term you might use to describe a beautifully written adventure story with larger than life characters and it's not sufficient to do justice to Alan Root's autobiography Ivory, Apes and Peacocks. Household names to my generation like Armand and Michaela Denis, TV Survival programmes, they were only a front for Alan's astonishing wildlife films. Alan and his first wife, Joan, introduced Diane Fosse to her gorillas in the mist; they introduced the world to air balloons for tourists. Alan discovered hitherto unknown characteristics of known and of legendary unseen species. He pioneered so many innovations in wildlife photography all the while honouring and respecting their natural habitat that he has won several lifetime achievement awards as well as the scars of a hippopotamus bite, a hand destroyed by a puff adder bite and life threatening encounters with silverback gorillas and with a motorbike in the vast uninhabited Congo rainforests. And if you want to read more it highlights the two problems with this book. 1: it finishes; 2: there's no promise of a second volume. Please, please somebody make a boxset of Alan's films ... Then we'd have multiple volumes to entertain and educate us. Did I like it? At least as much as you will!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Holt on 23 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this memoire of those carefree heady days in African learning and enjoying about the fauna and flora of Africa which I have only experienced as a tourist on short holidays.

What a marvellous childhood and young adulthood lead to Alan's immersion in his life as a naturalist and cameraman the product of which we take for granted back in the UK. Thanks so much for this book Alan... marvellous.

I hope Emily the chimpanzee really did clean the house!!!
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Firstly, let's get the carping out of the way. The book cover is visually captivating but the wacky typography doesn't really work. Nor does the title. I am relentlessly reminded of Lynne Truss's book Eats, Shoots and Leaves. Why not have something more literal? Also, the chronology in the main text is a bit confusing. And considering that the author is a photographer, the pictures are pretty dismal. Accompanying The Daily Telegraph review was a wonderful picture of Alan Root sitting at a trestle-table - and a leopard sitting on the other end of the table. No sign of it in the book.

All that said, the story is riveting. He writes well. How marvellous that he followed his instinct rather than opting for a conventional career. And he comes across as a wildlife photographer who pioneered clever innovations in desperately difficult circumstances at around the same time that David Attenborough was making his mark as arguably the greatest wildlife film-maker of all-time. Good timing, that. Moreover, after reading about his experiences as a balloonist and a pilot of light aircraft over the African bush, and his hair-raising accounts of encounters with animals, all I can say is that I would have been paralysed with terror; one is moved to say that Alan Root is a very brave and courageous man.

His account of a bifurcated life that he shared with two women ultimately becomes achingly sad. But this is finally relieved by a poignant allegro describing a meeting with a third woman with whom he has two delightful boys, a visceral yearning for children finally satisfied in his later years.

Very good. And written from the heart.
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