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The Rose-tinted Menagerie [Paperback]

William Johnson

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More About the Author

William Miles Johnson (aka William Azuski) spent his formative years in the UK, studying ancient history and literature before dropping out of college to pursue a path on the open road. He travelled widely through the Mediterranean until a chance encounter threw him headlong into an unexpected calling -- ecology and conservation.

Johnson went on to head an international conservation project to establish marine protected areas in the militarily tense Eastern Aegean, where the hostile powers of Greece and Turkey confront each other across a narrow stretch of sea, and where shadowy areas of the state apparatus appeared to have forgotten that the Colonels had fallen five years earlier.

Those experiences formed the basis for his first book, THE MONK SEAL CONSPIRACY, published by Heretic Books, London.

Hailed by critics as "A ground-breaking work of great importance" Johnson's second book, THE ROSE-TINTED MENAGERIE -- a history of animals in entertainment, from the circus amphitheatres of ancient Rome to the oceanaria of the 20th century -- was published by Heretic Books in 1990, and was chosen as an Observer Book of the Year.

With introductions by Desmond Morris, Richard Adams, Virginia McKenna and Sadruddin Aga Khan, the book also features in-depth investigations into the international trade in dolphins, and animals used for military purposes.

With the title still in demand, Iridescent Publishing republished the illustrated English edition of THE ROSE-TINTED MENAGERIE in 2012 in ebook form:

An outspoken critic of the failings of international conservation NGOs, a subject featuring prominently in his articles, as well as The Monk Seal Conspiracy, Johnson's "End of the World" satire / black comedy MAKING A KILLING was published in 1996, its story centred around a life-and-death Earth Summit, held in the troubled Caribbean paradise of San Pimente.

To mark the 2012 Earth Summit II in Rio, MAKING A KILLING was republished in 2012 by Iridescent Publishing in ebook form:

Johnson subsequently turned his attention to more academic titles, with two Leiden-published titles focusing on Europe's most endangered marine mammal, the Mediterranean monk seal, and its role in the history, culture and ecological decline of the Mediterranean Sea. MONK SEALS IN ANTIQUITY and MONK SEALS IN POST-CLASSICAL HISTORY were published by Backhuys Publishers in 1999 and 2004 respectively.

Of British and Yugoslav parentage, Johnson also writes under the name William Azuski.

Drawing on his years in Greece, 2013 sees the publication of TRAVELS IN ELYSIUM, a metaphysical mystery set on the Aegean island of Santorini (Thera).

"This extraordinary novel, part murder mystery, part metaphysical thriller, kept me guessing until the very last page. The intellectual duel between the troubled hero and his ruthless mentor is mesmerising. William Azuski's treatment of the Atlantis legend is completely original and I have rarely read a novel with such a strong sense of place. The bizarre landscapes of Santorini and the daily lives of its people, both ancient and modern, are vividly evoked. Anyone who enjoys the work of Umberto Eco, Orhan Pamuk or Carlos Ruiz Zafón should try this book." -- Geraldine Harris, author, Egyptologist, and a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the Educational Freak Show 17 July 2012
By Waltzie - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"The Rose-Tinted Menagerie" is a top-notch expose not to be missed. Spending almost five years traveling worldwide from across Europe, into the former Soviet Union and in the United States, William Johnson interviewed circus owners, dolphin dealers, law makers, councilmen, former trainers and workers, to get answers behind the curtain of the circus industry, the traveling sideshows, and ever-popular marine parks and dolphinariums. Nor does he cut any slack for the exploiters and the lawmakers, unable to live up to their duties to prevent such abuse from happening.

While the original printed copy was published in 1990, and several facilities followed in the novel have closed since, it still remains as a damning - if not haunting - testament to humanity's inclination to exploit any living creature for the sake of the almighty dollar. Additionally, the investigative piece remains relevant due to the parallels mentioned in the pages continue to run rampant in the circuses and marine parks of today.

While most animal rights-themed investigations would try to sucker punch the reader with an overflow of emotions and exploitative drama, Rose-Tinted Menagerie does not. Johnson proves his point through available reports, documentation, interviews of the proponents and opponents of the circus and dolphinarium industry, as well as logical questioning of how and why these `freak shows' are considered acceptable in society. From the account of the Swiss entrepreneurial dolphin dealer that abandoned his own dolphins at an Egyptian hotel pool, to the reports of CITES and other fauna management organizations standing idly by as the animals plucked from the wild and into the confines of captivity, Johnson leaves no stone unturned as he untangles this web of questionable morals and ethics, animal abuse, "edutainment" and corruption.

For those who seek for the bitter truth on the other side of the performing stage curtain, look no further: this book is just for you. While occasionally overwhelming with information in some pages, it is worth your time. But be warned: the ringmaster and his staff will flippantly attempt to make you wear a pair of rose-tinted glasses before pick up a or download a copy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a nice copy, and quick delivery. 31 Mar 2014
By C. Bruce - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thanks for providing a lovely used copy of this hard-to-find book. So impressed with it, I've ordered digital copies for friends with e-readers. I think this is one of the most important books written in the last 50 years. Thanks again.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of circus history and animal entertainment 29 April 2005
By Janta - Published on
For anyone interested in circus animals, and the history of circus animals, this is a must-read.
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