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on 12 October 2014
Having recently read the Born Free trilogy by Joy Adamson, I was intrigued to learn more about the Adamsons. The Great Safari, I suspect, tells its reader all they really need to know about them because it is so detailed and comprehensive in its coverage of both of their lives. Not just their lives since they met, but also their younger lives and the events that shaped their later lives.

I found it interesting and engrossing from its first to its last page, with no dips in its ability to capture my attention in between. Personally speaking, books that I can write this about are extremely rare.

It is a no holes barred biography, but I would say that poor Joy Adamson comes off less well than George. I found it hard at times, not to think that Adrian House was not being particularly biased in favour of George, who really does comes across as a hero, whilst Joy is most definitely the villain of the peace. For sure she would have been difficult to live with, (and it has to be acknowledged that House did know both Joy and George), but there would have been a reason(s) for this, which House does indeed touch upon, but overall I feel she deserves more compassion than has been metered out to her within this biography.

On the positive side House is quick to give credit to Joy for her numerous accomplishments. The great tragedy I would say, rather than simply a sadness, is that Joy was never able to find the authentic and enduring love match with a man, which she craved. Instead the great loves of her life were two big female cats, Elsa the lioness of course and later Pippa the cheetah.

For me the great appeal of this couple was their ability to live their lives for themselves, with a large amount of freedom, which enabled them to forge great connections with nature and the animal kingdom. In the last pages of his biography House quotes the following passage from Cyril Connolly’s The Unquiet Grave:-

The spiritual life of man is the flowering of his bodily existence: there is a physical life which remains the prefect way of living for a natural man, a life in close contact with nature, with the sun and the passage of the seasons, and one rich in opportunities for equinoctial migrations and home-comings. This life has now become artificial, out of reach of all but the rich or the obstinately free, yet until we can return to it we are unable to appreciate the potentialities of living.

If, like me, this passage resonates with you, you will definitely find much in this biography with which to connect.

In short it is an in-depth study of the lives of Joy and George Adamson, intelligently portrayed, which is well worth reading.
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on 28 December 2010
This book was first published in 1993, has 441 pages, 73 B/W photos, 27 colour pictures and 4 large maps with end paper maps of Kenya. The book starts in year 1906 and ends in 1993 with stories and chapters and happenings in those years in the lives of George and Joy Adamson. In Kenya, there are startling variety of climates, flowers, trees, fish, birds and animals. ADRIAN HOUSE first met JOY in 1959 and GEORGE in 1977. Joy wrote pocket diaries from 1945 to 1975 and George wrote daily diaries for 60 years.(JOY FRIEDERIKE VIKTORIA ADAMSON 20.1.1910 TO 3.1.1980, GEORGE ALEXANDER GRAHAM ADAMSON 3.2.1906 TO 20.8.1989). In Christmas 1942, George and Joy first met at a party in GARISSA, Tana River, Kenya. Earlier Joy (FIFI) had sailed for Kenya on 12.5.1937 and married PETER BALLY on 4.4.1938 in Nairobi. It was he who named her as JOY. George and Joy married in Nairobi on 17.1.1944.
From ISIOLO, Joy went with George to amazing NFD on Lake Rudolf (Turkana) She hated TERENCE (George's brother) and Katherine (their mother). Joy was known for her behaviour problems and bad temper. She was also gifted with painting flowers, portraits and fish. In June 1940, George joined the army and was released in August 1942. In 1947, Joy demanded divorce from George, on the grounds of cruelty! In the mean time Joy had her new affairs. On 10.6.1950, at the age of 75, Katherine Adamson died. On 23.3.1953, on leave to Europe, Joy and George drove 5000 miles through north Africa and Sahara. On return, George got involved in MAU MAU emergency.
In 1956, George brings home 3 lion cubs and Joy calls one of them ELSA. In 1958, Elsa was first taken from Isiolo to Maasai Mara for release, and then to Meru. In 1960, 'BORN FREE', Elsa's story was published. In January 1961, Elsa died of tick fever. After 25 years as Game Warden, George resigns on 23.4.1961 and takes Elsa's 3 cubs to Serengeti. Joy kept the royalties but gave a lot to wildlife trusts. On 14.3.1966, 'Born Free', the Movie was released. Joy suffered from recurrent malaria, kidney stones, insomnia, fluttering heart and loneliness. On 13.8.1970,aged 65, George (Baba-ya-Simba - Father of Lions) moves to Kampi-ya-Simba at KORA with his lions. Then 1 year old 'Christian the lion' comes to Kora from London. Joy buys a bungalow on Lake Naivasha and calls it 'ELSAMERE'(now a museum). George and his assistant TONY FITZJOHN, were both bitten by their lions and landed up in Nairobi Hospital. THERE ARE GOOD LIONS AND THERE ARE BAD LIONS, BUT THERE ARE NO SAFE LIONS. On 3.1.1980, Joy was murdered by a Turkana. Terence died in 1987. Tony Fitzjohn started his own KAMPI-YA-CHUI. On 20.8.1989, George was shot dead by Somali Shifta and his funeral was on 2.9.1989 and was buried next to his brother, Terence, in Kora.
This is the most detailed book on Joy and George Adamson. Adrian House compares Joy and George's accounts of events. He goes back to their birth places and narrates their stories beautifully. You come to know what Joy and George were really like. Other books with similar theme are:-
(1) Bwana Game, George Adamson 1968
(2) My Pride and Joy, George Adamson 1986
(3) Lord of the Lion, Sandy Gall 1991
(4) Born Free/Living Free/Forever Free, Joy Adamson 1960/61/62
(5) The Searching Spirit, Joy Adamson 1978
(6) last of the Free, Gareth Patterson 1994
(7) Return to the Wild, Norman Carr 1963
(8) On Playing with Lions, Virginnia Mckenna 1966
(9) A lion Called Christian, Bourke and Randall 1971(2009)
(10)Born Wild, Tony Fitzjohn 2010
Having born in Kenya, I enjoyed reading this book.
Read and ENJOY.
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on 29 October 2011
I thought this book was absolutely fantastic.
A fabulous insight into the lives of Joy and George Adamson and their conservation work in Kenya.
Adrian House compares Joy and George's accounts of events in their lives through their letters and dairies. He goes back to their birth places, homes, camps and tells of their adventures beautifully.Some of which are very moving.
You come to know what Joy and George were really like. I think I fell in love with George and the lions (just a little bit!) At times, I felt like I was there on Safari with George, as Adrian House really made the sounds and sights of the bush and lions come alive, fantastic photos too.

George said 'Often I am asked why I have committed myself to the lions. There is no material gain for me in the project. The answer lies in my regard for these noble animals. I cannot bear to see these highly intelligent and sensitive creatures treated as so much merchandise, shipped here and there over the world, mothers parted from offspring, brothers from sisters, friend from friend, regardless of their feelings and happiness. For what? To, provide profit for dealers, and entertainment for humanity. They too are living beings with emotions akin to our own. If I can bring happiness and fulfillment for a span into the lives of a few, and perhaps set the pattern for future rehabilitations, it will have been worth while.

I really lost myself in this book and as George says 'Korokoro' the lion's roar when translated into English goes: WHO IS LORD OF THIS LAND?... Who is Lord of this land?... I Am!... I am!... I am!'
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on 20 March 2013
This book gives you a much closer insight of two famous people who transformed the whole outlook on the preservation of nature and of course, those magnificent lions. The collection of "Born Free" MUST have this book, to make anything complete.
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on 25 December 2013
A well written, candid and revealing account of the lives of this couple and their involvement in conservation and the animals they saved and rehabilitated. Amazing story and quite different from how it came across at the time of Born Free.
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on 24 September 2013
as i am a fan of the George Adamson,enjoyed it from start to finish there was nothing to dislike about the book Yes i would recommend it to everyone who is into wildlife
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