on 16 September 2011
This a story about the life of Joan Root which ends with her violent death, murdered in her home. I saw a TV programme about Joan Root's murder soon after her death and when I discovered this book last month I hesitated before buying it. The story begins optimistically when the Joan and Alan, blessed with youth and good looks meet and marry in the privileged white Kenyan community. They build a life together in the wildlife wonderland on the shore of Lake Naivasha and become pre-eminent in Alan's field of wildlife film making.
However there is trouble in paradise. The glory of the career dims when they are unable to have a family; Alan is eventually drawn away from Joan and they divorce; the paradise that was Naivasha is invaded by alien horticulture and wildlife poaching which destroys the lake ecosystem and its dependent wildlife; the response to that only worsens the ever more poisonous relationships; violence and murder become common-place and eventually claims Joan as its most high profile victim.
Joan lived and died in the vain hope that Alan would return one day and he did but only after she is murdered.
So be prepared for a compelling read but there is no feel good ending to this story.
This is the third book I have read about Africa in recent weeks and the theme running through all of them is of the grinding poverty of the native African people; the degradation of the environment and the destruction of wildlife. Very sad but we need to know. Joan tried to do something to counter all of these and paid with her life.
on 29 September 2011
This is one of these books that one cannot put down. The sheer courage and determination of this woman never ceases to amaze. She risked her life for her beliefs and paid the price. The book successfully describes the fine balance between progress in a developing country and the downside which she witnessed daily from her home on Lake Naivasha. On the one hand the importance of the flower industry, which brought employment to the area but over population and pollution meant destruction of the natural environment.
Her incredible life with her husband Alan Roots brought her both universal recognition and happiness. The sadness she felt when the marriage broke up must have been devastating for her. The book vividly describes her many acts of courage when she toured with her husband throughout Africa. It is an exciting read from beginning to end. Having spent a couple of nights on Lake Naivasha I can quite understand why she did not want to leave. It is an unforgettable place.
on 26 August 2014
A very interesting story of Joan Root and her film making husband in Africa. She comes across as a deeply caring person who found her true vocation in her support and protection of many native creatures around her 'beloved' lake. A very sad end to her worthwhile life.The attacks from some of the locals were quite horrific, and how anyone chose to stay put there with all of the atrocities going on amazes me. But, thank goodness there are people like Joan Root still out there making a difference.
on 6 August 2010
After spending many years in Kenya in the 70's, I just bought this book as a memory booster of my time spent there.
What a read! Not only is it very well written, but it is almost like a thriller & I just couldn't turn the pages quick enough. What an extraordinary life Jean Root had, with so much joy, but also a lot of heartache & a terribly tragic end.
But above all, it shows her passion for life & her dedication for her beloved Kenya.
on 10 October 2010
This book was first published on 2009, has 209 pages, 24 B/W photos, but no maps. JOAN ROOT was born on 18.1.1936 at NAIVASHA -Rough Water, as JOAN WELLS-THORPE to Kenyan parents. Her father Edmond Thorpe was British banker immigrated to Kenya in 1928 and became successful coffee farmer. Joan married ALAN ROOT in 1961 but they separated in 1981 and later devorced. He settled in NAIROBI while she received the Lake Naivasha farm. She received many threats and installed steel doors and bars on windows. On 13.1.2006, aged 69, Joan was murdered at her home by 4 men who were equited in august 2007. Her will stated that her land to be a admission free preserve. MARK SEAL sets out to write Joan's story with help from Alan Root and others.
Edmund Thorpe turned professional hunter to photo-safari buisness(Kenya thru the Lens) and Joan used to travel into the wild with him. Alan Root was born in LONDON on 19.5.1937. His family moved to Kenya when he was 10, lived at ATHI PLAINS. At 22, he filmed 'Serengeti Shall not Die' for Prof Grzimek. Then while filming at Ngorongoro Crater, he meets Joan. In February 1961, they married in Nairobi. Later Joan's parents divorce. On 23.9.1962, Joan and Alan rescued flamingo chicks at LAKE MAGADI (where I was born). In 1963, they buy KILIMANDEGE(Hill of the Birds) at Lake Naivasha, south road. Joan then suffers from Myaesthenia. Many small animals lived at their home.
Alan is bitten by a puff adder snake and looses a finger, after seriously ill. Joan was now 36 and they had no children. On 9.3.1974, they fly over Mt KILIMANJARO in a hot air balloon. On 3.5.1976, they launched 'Balloon Safari Ltd' in Kenya and Tanzania. At Mzima Springs, they are attacked by hippo, putting Alan in hospital. Joan starts to write in her diary. In 1982, Alan gets involved with Jennie Hammond, married with 2 children. On 6.9.1990, Joan and Alan divorce. On 9.1.1991, Alan married Jennie. Joan goes to London for a facelift. The Zwagers were the first to cultivate flowers on the shore of Lake Naivasha in 1990.
Joan was very upset to see what was happening to Lake Naivasha. Her mother died in 1989. In Feb 1997, her father dies. Jennie died on 11.1.2000. Then Alan marries Fran and they have a son - Myles Nicholas. Poachers on the Lake were armed and dangerous. On 25.11.2004, Joan gets carjacked, beaten and her money taken. On 26.9.2005, intruders come into her home. More threats are made and her car brakes are cut. On 13.1.2006 early morning, she was shot 5 times by intruders and she died. When you read this book, you too, could breakdown and cry, like Alan Root.
Other books with similar conservation theme are:-
(1) Leopard Girl, Audrey Critchley 1959
(2) God's Children with Tails, Violet Cambell 1961
(3) Twenty Animals, One Man, B Grzimek 1963
(4) Wild Lives of Africa, Juliette Huxley 1963
(5) Tsavo Story, Dame Daphne Sheldrick 1973
(6) Portraits in the Wild, Cynthia Moss 1976
(7) The Great Safari, Adrian House 1993
(8) All Things Wild and Wonderful, Kobie Kruger 1996 (2003)
(9) The Life in My Years, Virginnia Mckenna 2009
(10)Born Wild, Tony Fitzjohn 2010
Having born in Kenya, I enjoyed reading this book.
Read and ENJOY.
on 17 April 2012
My mother is extremely picky about books, despite being a voracious reader. She is utterly brutal if a book doesn't please her, but this is one she really adored. It was one of several I got her for her birthday, and is the one she keeps talking about.
I know it's a second-hand review, but still thought I'd pass it on!