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Lords and Lemurs Paperback – 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (2004)
  • ISBN-10: 0965929280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0965929288
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 14 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,130,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well-written mix of science (the lemurs) the people of this area of south Madagascar (the Lords)and some history, developmental politics,etc. The author has been visiting the country for decades and writes an engaging personal story travelling through the years, the issues and the history.I was particularly impressed with her forthright views on local politics, unusually bold by the standards of travel writers. However she is more than an observant traveller. Well worth reading.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9f43a690) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f488b94) out of 5 stars History and Natural History of a Neglected Island 13 Feb. 2005
By David B Richman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It never ceases to amaze me that people often think that history only happens to their cultures and possibly related ones. We, with good reason, teach American history in schools (although sometimes not well enough when you see polls showing that a unusually high number of our citizens cannot tell the Constitution well enough to distinguish it from the Communist Manifesto!) and to a lesser extent European and sometimes Asian histories. However when we were dealing with the two World Wars, others on the so-called fringes of the civilized world were doing the same. We tend to often ignore parts of the world that do not immediately impinge on us, but we may do so at our peril (as was graphically shown on September 11, 2001!)

It is one of the far-flung parts of the once huge French empire that is the subject of a very unusual book by the well-known primatologist Alison Jolly. "Lords and Lemurs" is mostly set in southern Madagascar in an area dominated by mimosa thorn scrub and populated by the native Tandroy, the French settlers and by several species of Madagascar's unique lemurs. Jolly writes a somewhat eccentric book about a very eccentric (from our view!) land. You find it difficult to dislike most of the people, even though some had to fight for the puppet government of Vichy during World War II and you find the fauna and flora fascinating.

Jolly does not spoon feed us. We are shown the horrors as well as the joys. Lemurs, we find, are not quite the cuddly creatures of Disney cartoons (they fight and sometimes kill even their own species), but they are for all that enchanting creatures (and who are we to throw stones anyway?) The people have not always had admirable intentions and are sometimes quite flawed. The French colonial government included some sadistic types who used their power to torture and rape and some natives staged somewhat brutal (if often also somewhat muted by today's standards) uprisings and sometimes threw their best friends in jail. On the other hand you see people go to extremes to help others in times of need in ways that make you admire their moral strength. You even understand the French fighting the British on Madagascar, despite the fact that the British forces are acting against Hitler and Tojo. Local conditions alter realities and "friends" may become bitter enemies. You are also to some extent shown the environmental successes as well as the stupidities. However, the book is mostly about very different peoples facing the often grim realities of life and often surviving.

If you would like to broaden your understanding of our world, both human and "natural" (a false dichotomy in any case!) read this book!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f480e7c) out of 5 stars Rare insight into Madagascar 28 April 2004
By Roderick Eime - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I had the great pleasure (and fortune) to meet Alison Jolly during my visit to Berenty in September 2003.
She graciously and eloquently addressed our small tour group and gave us a rare insight into her understanding of lemur behaviour.
The book is an absolute must for anybody with even a passing interest in Madagascar, anthropology and lemurs.
Most importantly, it documents this remarkable family (the de Heaulmes) and sheds light on the complex and mysterious history of Berenty and its part in the modern history of Madagascar.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fd3f240) out of 5 stars Rich, eclectic, and readable 19 April 2007
By John Uniack Davis - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This rich, unusual book is hard to categorize -- It is a fascinating combination of history and memoir by renowned naturalist Alison Jolly, who has been working in Madagascar since 1963. She uses her own experiences in primate research and environmental protection in Madagascar, as well as the reminiscences of her friends the de Heaulme family, proprietors of the Berenty Reserve and numerous holdings in and around Fort Dauphin in extreme southeast Madagascar, to comment on a wide range of issues such as colonization, Malagasy politics, ethnic groups of southern Madagascar, donor environment, food security, and so on. While this very readable volume focuses on the southern zone from Fort Dauphin to Berenty Reserve and Amboasary, it provides a wealth of contextual information about Madagascar in general.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f303294) out of 5 stars Stories about a special place. 24 Nov. 2004
By Bullwinklefody - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alison Jolly is a wonderful story-teller and makes Malagasy Madagascar and old French Madagascar come to life. The reader learns about a particular corner in southern Madagascar and the lives of its native tribes and French colonialists.

Lemurs brought Alison Joly to Madagascar but the fascination for this reader was her evocative portraits of people. Zebus and sisal rather than lemurs seem more relevant to her tale, until Prince Philip arrives and appears to shock an uncaring government that the country is committing ecological suicide. There is now a new government and it may be taking the environment more seriously. That would be a change in Madagascar!

As a former resident of Madagascar, I loved the book and the way Alison Jolly brings the place to life.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f30342c) out of 5 stars A testimony to Madagascar's past and future in the modern wo 7 Aug. 2004
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to neatly peg primate behavioralist Alison Jolly's wonderful Lords & Lemurs: somewhere between a autobiography, travelogue, geography exploration and social issue examination still doesn't aptly describe the magic of Jolly's encounter. Her focus on Madagascar's people, animals, and society brings to life the rugged individuals and colorful personalities - and issues - of the island, making Lords & Lemurs a testimony to Madagascar's past and future in the modern world.
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