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Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds (Story of Elsa #1)

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  29,049 Ratings  ·  223 Reviews
There have been many accounts of the return to the wild of tame animals, but since its original publication in 1960, when the New York Times hailed it as a "fascinating and remarkable book," Born Free has stood alone in its power to move us.

Joy Adamson's story of a lion cub in transition between the captivity in which she is raised and the fearsome wild to which she is ret
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 16th 2000 by Pantheon (first published 1960)
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Mar 29, 2016 Ana rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals, bios
This book turned me into a blubbering, weeping mess. Amazing, sad and uplifting at the same time.

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For more on this matter check out my other review-
Summer Lane
Jun 24, 2012 Summer Lane rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best animal stories of all time. Why? Because it isn't just about a lion named Elsa, it is about a companion, a friend and a loving creature who shared in the lives of Joy and George Adamson when they lived in Kenya. Originally penned in 1960, it is the touching tale of how they raised an orphaned lion cub named Elsa and she grew to be their nearest and dearest friend - she was family. I have rarely read a book so heartwarming. Elsa was really very magical and unique, and afte ...more
Jan 09, 2013 Jami rated it liked it
While I loved Elsa's story and enjoyed most of the pictures in the book, this was not the heartwarming story I remember from my childhood. I love Elsa, but I really didn't like the Adamsons. It may be because I keep comparing them to Lawrence Anthony, another conservationist, and I find that Mr. Anthony seemed to have more respect for the animals' right to exist in their environment. I couldn't lose sight of the fact that Elsa was orphaned because he killed her mother thinking she was a male lio ...more
Joanne Moyer
I saw the movie Born Free as a child and loved it. I probably read the book along the way too but as usual don't remember. The story of Elsa and the Adamsons is still an amazing one of
love and devotion between a wild animal and her 'pride', George and Joy Adamson. The descriptions of where and how they lived is really interesting as it's a way of life not many will ever experience
Noran Miss Pumkin
Aug 26, 2008 Noran Miss Pumkin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all young at heart
Recommended to Noran by: my loving mother
Shelves: me
You saw the movie, you sang the song, you begged mother for the vinyl, and she bought you the book as a surprise. Elsa had all our hearts back then, and her was amazing and truly free in the end. It was the Feel Good story of the decade. so, I think it might be time to bring it back once again for the new generation. What better message to save the Earth?
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Oct 15, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Animal Lovers
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Utlimate Reading List - Biography
This is the book the film was based upon, the story of Elsa the lioness, hand raised by a Senior Game Warden and his wife, Joy Adamson, and later released into the wild. This would be rated five stars except that I really try to be stingy with those. The book didn't make me cry, laugh-out-loud or change my thinking, and Adamson, while she writes well and fluently, doesn't have the impressive, lyrical prose of Beryl Markham and Isak Dinesen, two other European women who wrote celebrated memoirs a ...more
Jun 22, 2008 Zoe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the inspiration, true story Elsa, a lioness, who is raised by the author Joy Adamson, and her husband George. When George must go on safari after a man-eating lion, his hunting party is attacked by a vicious lioness. She is shot in self-defense, but they realize later with remorse that she had been trying to protect her young, three cubs who George brings back to camp. Though Elsa’s sisters are sent to a zoo when they are still cubs, Elsa remains in Kenya with the intent of joining her s ...more
Mar 04, 2017 Sally68 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ho un ricordo stupendo del telefilm tratto da questo libro...Allora ero una bambina, ma la vicenda di questa leonessa, di Joy e George che con cura allevarono questa cucciola mi ha emozionato nuovamente oggi, come lo fece allora.
Per il grande rispetto e amore che avevano per Elsa e per la sua natura, riuscirono a rimetterla in libertà.."
"Per quanto ci fossimo preparati al distacco e sperassimo di poter cosí dare a Elsa un avvenire migliore di quello che avrebbe avuto in cattività, il momento del
Chloe Playle
Apr 06, 2017 Chloe Playle rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-reading
I read this when I was young, and made me cry my eyes out. I still think of this book.
Apr 07, 2013 Robin rated it it was amazing
The author’s husband, in his duties as a game warden, was forced to shoot a lioness as she attacked. He then found her three young cubs (and felt great remorse at having killed their mother) and took them home. Two of the cubs were eventually sent to a zoo, but the smallest, Elsa, stayed on as a member of the household.

The bond between Elsa and the Adamsons is incredible. While raising Elsa as a pet, they rarely kept her penned up or chained and gave her a lot of freedom to still act like a lio
May 09, 2011 Iskreads rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 7th-sims
Born Free
By Joy Adamson
Review by Graham W

Born Free is an amazing story, that is also true and is unlikely to happen to just anyone. One of the people lucky enough to experience this was Joy Adamson, the author of the book.

Just being in a Safari car on a bumpy road is all worth it, even in tall grass never knowing what is coming around the corner. But as long as the truck is moving you can never take even a half decent picture, and when searching for lions, its just part of the adventure. But Jo
This is the 40th anniversary edition of this classic book, and it contains a new forward. I remember seeing this movie as a child, and it had a very sad ending that made me cry. This book, however, did not end on a sad note; now I think the movie may have included part of the storyline from the book's sequels.

Born Free is a cute, bittersweet story of a couple in Kenya and their lioness, raised from a cub and successfully returned to the wild. It took place in the late 50s and retains a tiny bit
Lisa Vegan
May 13, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loves animals, especially lions, or has any interest in Africa, everyone
I cannot remember how many times I reread this book; it was many. I also enjoyed Living Free and Forever Free although not quite as much, but it would have been impossible for me to not read those sequels as I would have been painfully curious about how the story continues.

I’ve cried a lot each time I’ve read it because the book is so emotionally moving. The story of Elsa the lioness and her humans and Kenya was completely engrossing. I read it first when I was about 12 and it got me interested
Apr 19, 2014 Eirian rated it it was amazing
I read this book fairly recently having adored the film as a child. I'm glad to say it quickly became one of my favourites. Although the story itself is obviously beautiful, and with the book including much more detail than the film which I was unaware of before, the really exciting part was the multitude of Elsa picture's which have been included! They are all black and white in my copy but to actually see Elsa grow up from a cub to a lioness alongside reading her tale was lovely. If you loved ...more
Oct 10, 2009 Kayla rated it it was amazing
This was a nice read. I enjoyed the story and the pictures of Elsa. The author starts the book off when she and her husband first find the lion cubs. She talks about their playfulness, shyness, and intelligence. I thought it was amazing how intelligent Elsa was. In many ways she was smarter than the typical canine. Elsa must learn how to hunt and survive on her own with only her human parents to teach her. There were many skills that she picked up from instinct alone. Again great book! This is w ...more
Kirsty Noah-whitlock
Bit of a hard one to review. I love Elsas story but not entirely agreeable with Joy and George, just because of some of the animals they killed for no reason to be honest. At times I felt like giving up on the book for this reason but I'm going to continue the trilogy and try reading Living Free to see how Elsas journey continues. I may even get a liking for Joy and Else you never know, watch this space xx
Apr 20, 2014 Fellini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Великолепная история! Впечатлилась ей ещё в детстве и вот недавно перечитала. С такой увлечённостью, с такой любовью к животным и наблюдательностью написано, что остаться равнодушным невозможно.
Я убеждена, что, помогая животным, мы помогаем себе. Если мы их уничтожим, будет нарушено равновесие в мире, частицу которого мы составляем.
Mar 03, 2009 Jen rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: big cat lovers
The mastercheese for lion lovers. Grab the hankies. Freedom!

Apr 27, 2015 JuliaOrlando rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in wildlife, particularly lions, Africa, memiors
A very enjoyable read by author Joy Adamson about how she and her husband hand raised a lion cub they named Elsa and how they released her back into the wild.
Jeffrey E
Dec 28, 2016 Jeffrey E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely tale.
Nov 04, 2016 Sally rated it really liked it
Just a lovely story. I feel like I received the affection that Elsa expressed to George and Joy.
Marty Essen
Anyone who follows my book reviews knows that I only give five-star reviews. Not that all the books I read are worthy of five stars—far from it—it’s just that as a busy author myself, I don’t have time to review books unless they warrant five-stars. I’m going to make the exception here.

I originally read all three books in the Born Free series when I was about fourteen. Had I reviewed them then, I would have given each book five stars. Unfortunately, this series hasn’t aged well.

First, there’s th
Re-read; First read this in 2005/2006 for school.

While this is a re-read for me, I did not remember much about this book or its content.

I found this book particularly interesting regarding the raising of a lion cub in captivity and the eventual re-wilding of said cub. I learned quite a bit about animal and lion behavior that I thought was unique in that this is told from the perspective of someone who reveres and appreciates the beauty of Kenya and the wildlife there. The author sees the liones
Sarah Beaudette
Sep 26, 2015 Sarah Beaudette rated it it was ok
Here's what I think modern readers are afraid to say: the Born Free legacy is incredible, but the book that started it all...isn't. Born Free was an exciting, eye-opening read in 1960 because it dispelled myths about the savagery of "darkest Africa," it was the most cutting edge information anyone had about lions at the time, and it sparked an interest in conservation, making wild animals personable and deserving of protection rather than fierce beasts to be hunted.

Joy and George Adamson were th
Pete daPixie
Feb 01, 2017 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: green, manimals, women
Joy Adamson's acclaimed book 'Born Free' was first published in 1960, its two sequels 'Living Free' and 'Forever Free' followed in 1961 and 1962 respectively. My 50th anniversary copy 'Born Free: The Full Story' appears to be an amalgam of the three. The book gives a copyright of 1966 and states that it was first published as 'The Story of Elsa'. All somewhat confusing, as is Joy Adamson who was born Friederike Viktoria Gessner.
One of the early and iconic books concerned with wildlife conservati
Kalie Lyn
Jan 25, 2012 Kalie Lyn rated it it was amazing
I heard of the Adamsons – Joy (the author) and George (her husband) – when I read the book A Lion Called Christian, in which they had helped rehabilitate Christian back into the wild. However, their work with lions had been going on for a while before Christian, so I was very excited to read Born Free and see how Joy and George got started.

And it all began with Elsa. Born Free is the account and adventure of Elsa the lioness’s life, and the difficult task Elsa provided for her human parents, Joy
Liebes Buch
Sep 28, 2016 Liebes Buch rated it it was amazing
Ich habe alle Bücher von Joy Adamson, die ich bekommen konnte, gelesen und bin ein begeisterter Fan.
George & Joy Adamson sind Wildhüter in Kenia. Dabei ziehen sie unter anderem das kleine Löwenbaby Elsa auf, das mit den Büchern weltbekannt wurde. Es entstanden auch Verfilmungen.
Eine Serie aus den 70er Jahren ist nun auf DVD erhältlich (Pidax).
Hier ist Elsa schon ausgewildert, lebt also selbständig im Busch, kommt aber immer wieder auf kleine Besuche zurück nach Hause.
Die Serie erzählt 13 in
Ron Christiansen
May 17, 2012 Ron Christiansen rated it liked it
Shelves: nf, animal
Read it as part of an independent study I'm doing with a student about the relationship between humans and animals--not my choice but still an interesting read and a seminal piece in 1960 setting out a different type of relationship with animals, particularly the feared and hated lion.

There is, as to be expected, a lot of anthropomorphism as Adamson ascribes all sorts of human emotions to Elsa. Yet it is simply amazing what they pull off--raising a lion and then successfully introducing it into
Aug 23, 2012 Lindsey rated it it was amazing
Born Free is about the first-ever successful attempt to release a wild lion back in into its natural habitat after being raised by humans. Being a cat lover anyway I knew I was going to like this. Also, Africa & Madagascar are my dream holiday destinations so it was instantly going to spark my interest and I had already seen the movie they made of this when I was a kid so I thought I’d give the book a bash. I wasn’t disappointed. The story of Elsa the lion is sad, happy, heartwarming, funny ...more
Kim Greenhalgh
Aug 16, 2012 Kim Greenhalgh rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: animal lovers
I have vague memories of watching Born Free when I was little but this is the first time I read the book. In Born Free, Joy and George Adamson raise Elsa, a lion cub, to adulthood in Kenya. It is an awe-inspiring story of happiness, love, heartbreak and perseverance.

A few years ago my husband and stayed at Joy's Camp, in Kenya. This was one of the locations where Joy, George and Elsa lived. It was an amazing stay vividly recalled while reading this book. The beauty of Kenya is beyond descriptio
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Tale Waggers: March Novel: Born Free 1 1 Feb 16, 2016 08:50AM  
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Joy Adamson (born Friederike Victoria Gessner) was a naturalist, artist, and author best known for her book, Born Free, which describes her experiences raising a lion cub named Elsa. Born Free was printed in several languages, and made into an Academy Award-winning movie of the same name. In 1977, she was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art. Born to Victor and Traute Gessner i ...more
More about Joy Adamson...

Other Books in the Series

Story of Elsa (4 books)
  • Living Free (Story of Elsa, #2)
  • Forever Free: Elsa's Pride (Story of Elsa, #3)
  • Born Free: The Full Story

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“It was nearly a week before we returned. We found her waiting, and very hungry. She was full of affection; we had deceived her so often, broken faith with her, done so much to destroy her trust in us, yet she remained loyal.” 7 likes
“Although the release was heartbreaking for the Adamsons, they were mindful that she had been born free.” 6 likes
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