Interesting and well written. Filled with pertinent information, yet a bit long-winded at times.
The book is not merely a biography covering the lifeInteresting and well written. Filled with pertinent information, yet a bit long-winded at times.
The book is not merely a biography covering the life of one man, Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859). It starts with a description of the world he was born into - Prussia, Pre-Romanticism and the eminent philosophers, poets and writers of the time, i.e. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich von Schiller, to name but a few. Humboldt came to spend long hours with Goethe. These prominent thinkers influenced who he was to become. Their lives and the lives of others Humboldt associated with are discussed. Another two such men are Simón Bolívar and Thomas Jefferson. Humboldt’s theories, experiments, books, travels and companions are covered. The book does not conclude with his death. It continues, showing how he directly influenced others, in particular Charles Darwin, George Perkins Marsh, Ernst Haeckel and John Muir. It is through these men that ecology, conservation and preservation has become what it is today. Others are mentioned too. The book ends with the hope that we reclaim Humboldt as our hero or at least re-acknowledge the importance he has played in how we view nature. Humboldt's thoughts and writings lie at the beginning of a chain of men who have brought us to where we are today in the field of environmentalism.
How much do we learn about Humboldt’s personality? Well he never kept his mouth shut, and he was indefatigable. In a conversation you couldn't get a word in edgewise. Being with him must have been quite a strain. Whether he was homosexual or not is unclear. How he could have possibly had time for anything other than his artistic, philosophical and scientific pursuits is the prime question. He seems to have had neither the time nor the interest for a lover. He was a fervent abolitionist.
The audiobook narration is by David Drummond. I found it too fast, particularly in the beginning. There is just too much information to absorb. Later it gets easier. Some words are unclear. Narration does not influence my rating.
Rivers, minerals, lakes, parks and many, many places are named after this Prussian. I didn't even know who he was! It is stated that more places have been named after this man than anyone else. His views have shaped our very concept of how we see nature. He realized back in 1800 the interrelationship between all aspects of nature. He understood that nature is one unified whole, and that an interdisciplinary approach is essential to solving problems, one such being climate control. ...more
It is difficult for me to find good dog books. I have been reading them for years and years, both fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction has to give meIt is difficult for me to find good dog books. I have been reading them for years and years, both fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction has to give me something new. Fiction has to capture the immense love I feel for my dogs, and that is pretty darn hard to do.
This book of non-fiction gave me food for thought. It taught me things I had not known before. It has already helped me rethink how I communicate with my dog. What has been learned about dogs in the last decade is more than all that learned in the previous century. This book, published in 2013, has spanking new information. It is a book about the latest scientific studies on dogs’ cognitive abilities.
Dog training is a work in process. Your dog’s needs and behavior as a puppy, as a healthy adult and finally as he grows old are all very different. What worked with one of your dogs may not work with another. Each dog is an individual, even those of the same breed. All of this means that a dog owner has to keep learning. This book is filled with scientific studies that illustrate the latest theories. Some studies contradict others; divergent theories are expressed. I appreciate this. Exactly how the tests are preformed are carefully detailed. The results too.
There is fascinating information on how dogs became domesticated. Dogs are superbly equipped at reading human gestures. Which do they react to most readily - sound or movement, smell or touch or eye contact? I had no idea that eye contact was so important!
This is not a book to be used as a guide for how to train your new puppy - how to choose your pup, toilet train them, walk with them, teach them to come, sit and lie down. If you are looking for that then read The Art of Raising a Puppy. This is instead a book that helps you understand dog behavior. Knowledge of new scientific theories can help you alter your training methods to achieve better results.
At the end the book quickly discusses topics as varied as the role of dogs in Japan and in China both today and in the past, the cruel blood sport dog fighting, puppy mills, hormonal effects on canines and humans, gender specific behavior variations and the benefits of animal assisted medical therapy.
The audiobook narration by Fred Sanders is way too fast! Slow down, buddy! While dog owners read this book they have to have time to think. We dog owners are always being told the right way to train our dogs, and of course everyone says something different! Each must in the end decide for themselves which theories and which training methods make the most sense.
If you love your dog you want to understand all you can about them. With this understanding you can more easily train your dog. The better behavior your dog has the more you can do with them and the deeper you relationship grows.
I am impressed by this book. It gave me much more than I expected. I picked it up because I had heard it was humorous. It certainly was. It is also weI am impressed by this book. It gave me much more than I expected. I picked it up because I had heard it was humorous. It certainly was. It is also well written. It has history, brings to the fore environmental issues and pulls at your heartstrings. What more do you want from a book?!
I am now in love with Magellanic penguins. Go take a peek at them on Google. Juan Salvador was just such a penguin, but what a penguin he was! He was a listener. He spoke with his eyes. Tell me, who got the better deal? The penguin, Juan Salvador, saved from an oil slick off the coast of Uruguay where thousands of penguins died OR those humans who came to know him - the author, the Bolivian boy Diego whom he swam with, Maria or the other attendants and teachers at St. George's College? Was he a savior or was he the saved? That is the question. I learned so much about these marvelous creatures. I learned with my head and with my heart.
The author, Tom Michell, was an assistant master at the above named, rather exclusive boarding school in 1975 - 1976. It’s located in Quilmes, outside Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was 23. He never planned on caring for a penguin. He planned on teaching and seeing South America - its people, its wildlife, its landmarks, its night sky constellations, its flora, its fauna. In fact, he does both! And in this book he articulately depicts his emotional and intellectual experiences. He must have been a marvelous teacher. He cared for those kids and he cared for Juan Salvador. He briefly fills in the history of the time. Rampant inflation and the beginning of the Dirty War. In March 1976 Isabel Péron was ousted by a right-wing coup d'état. A military junta was installed headed by General Jorge Rafael Videla.
The auiobook narration by Bill Nighy was expertly executed. You should hear him relate the college rugby matches or how Juan Salvador flies through the water. The lines sound just like the British school teacher the author was, but never stuffy. Couldn’t have been better. Perfect. ...more
OK, this is an anthology. Some of the essays are clearly better than others. I certainly didn't love them all! I have put my star rating for each essaOK, this is an anthology. Some of the essays are clearly better than others. I certainly didn't love them all! I have put my star rating for each essay on the content list provided below. When I look back on this book my overall feeling is that if these stories had never been written so very much would be lost. In this respect, for the sake of the best stories/essays, the book is in my mind worth five stars even if some are not that good. As a whole I am giving it four stars. I really did like the whole reading experience. I am really glad I read this book.
How can I describe it? Who will enjoy this? It is not going to fit everybody. I am going to speak about the best stories / essays. As stated below, some are fact some are fiction ,but all are based on the author's interviews with real people - fishermen, gypsies, colored folk, denizens of the Bowery. The characters are those who are ‘down and out’. Are you able to look with compassion on such people? Are you curious about New York and its environs at the turn of the 20th Century and through the Depression? Do you want to get under the surface, to really comprehend people who are not like YOU?
New York City is so diverse; you cannot capture the whole city in one book. If I have to pick one group on which the book focuses it would be the fishing folk. I knew very little about fishing .......baits and nets and barges, culinary tricks, the fishermen's life on New York's waterfront. Not today, but back then. How was life there in the harbor back then. (I am dying to know how much of this world remains.) You leave the book with an understanding not only of the factual details, which I will surely forget, but also about a whole other way of living. This I will not forget. When you read the book use Wiki. Look at maps of the harbor and images of the fish and the boats and the people there. It is pretty amazing how people’s life trajectories can be so varied. What the author does is start with the facts and then he goes deeper and deeper by looking at people who everyday live with those details, those things just described. Mitchell goes from things and numbers to soul. From the outer to the inner. The facts become utterly fascinating because they are tied to flesh and blood people.
It is important to read this book with Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker. Mitchell used shorthand to record what people said. He had a knack for listening. You may wonder otherwise how Mitchell was he able to capture such long soliloquies and dialogs?!
What makes a book really good? Along with facts you must be lead to care for the people, so much so that you need to understand their circumstances. Then the details and facts have meaning. Yet you can bend the truth with facts. A talented author can make a message more meaningful and sometimes more truthful through additional fictional elements and composite characters. My favorite section was Old Mr. Flood, a mixture of fact and fiction. Here the author starts with the facts and real people. He has listened to them, and that is an art in itself. Our words, ordinary people's words are history, just as much as dry facts, and they are so much more interesting. Mitchell captures the spirit of a group of people. The following are some of the lines that I loved, all taken from the stories in the The Old Mr. Flood section: -(He) “didn’t see any reason mixing whiskey with water since it is already wet.” -“It’s not what I did I regret; it’s what I didn’t do.” -“It’s easier to have to do with a cranky man, than one that always has a smile on his face.” -“It takes almost a lifetime to learn how to do something simply.“
I very highly recommend listening to the audiobook. I absolutely adored the narration by Grover Gardiner. He reads slowly. He captures with his intonations the character of the people talking. Absolutely wonderful. Could not be improved upon. You do not need the paper book, but sit by your computer and look at maps of the city. Look at the fish and the fishermen and the barges. It is all there on internet and easy to see. Rarely can a book's maps be as informative as what you can find on the net. I don't even know if the paper book has maps or pictures.
At the end of my review is a list of the stories/essays and how they are arranged in the book. I have indicated how I reacted emotionally to each one. 1 star means bad, boring 2 stars means it was OK 3 stars means it was good, interesting, but not emotionally captivating 4 stars means I liked it A LOT 5 stars – these are utterly amazing!
I have for clarity indicated which are fictional and which are factual, also which stories were added by the author and thus not to be found in previous collections.
Joe Gould's Secret can be classified as a novella, but it concludes the set of stories found in The Bottom of the Harbor. It is a perfect ending to the anthology. It was the last of Mitchell’s writing, published in 1964. Joe Gould and Joseph Mitchell, they share an understanding about writing, about what should be written and why sometimes you just cannot write any more. The two men are not the same. There is a lot to think about here.
Still in the book's first section:
Some sketches are marvelous because they capture an individual or the feel of a place. Some you read for the interest of the topic covered - Calypso music, gypsies, the Bowery, the New York waterfront or the Fulton Fish Market. The setting is New York City, the early 1900s and the Depression years.
Up in the Old Hotel is split into three sections: "McSorley's Wonderful Saloon", "Old Mr. Flood" and "The Bottom of the Harbor". Each section is composed of different character sketches/essays. Some sketches are factual, some fictional. All in "The Bottom of the Harbor" are factual. The stories/sketches in "Old Mr. Flood" are fictional. The stories/sketches in "McSorley's Wonderful Saloon" are factual OR fictional.
Does it really matter if a fictional composite figure is created by Mitchell? He based even his fictional characters on real people he has rubbed shoulders with. Sometimes you can say more, get closer to the essence of a being through fictional characters. Facts can misrepresent the truth. (Harold Ross, the editor of The New Yorker, where all the sketches were originally published, was fully cognizant of the situation.)
When I have finished the book I will add a complete list of the names of the separate stories. The book starts with an introduction by David Remnick and then an author's note which explains how Mitchell organized this, his last anthology. Seven additional sketches were added: The Gypsy Women, The Spism and the Spasm, The Deaf-Mutes Club, Santa Claus Smith, The Mohawks in High Steel, The Kind Old Blonde and I Couldn't Dope It Out. The Mohawks in High Steel was used as an introduction to Edmund Wilson's Apologies to the Iroquois with A Study of the Mohawks in High Steel. None of the other additions had been reprinted. All sketches from his previously published collections McSorley's Wonderful Saloon (1943), Old Mr. Flood (1948), The Bottom of the Harbor (1960*) and Joe Gould’s Secret (1965) are in this anthology, but reorganized.
*According to the author's words in Up in the Old Hotel. Other sources set the publication date for 1959!
Audiobook Contents: Introduction, by David Remnick Author's Note
McSorley's Wonderful Saloon
Section 1 (factual) --The Old House at Home (4 stars) --Mazie (3 stars) --Hit on the Head with a Cow (2 stars) --Professor Sea Gull (2 stars) --A Spism and a Spasm (added) (3 stars) --Lady Olga (3 stars) --Evening with a Gifted Child (2 stars) --A Sporting Man (3 stars) --The Cave Dwellers (4 stars) --King of the Gypsies (3 stars) --The Gypsy Women (added) (2 stars) --The Deaf-Mutes Club (added) (2stars) --Santa Claus Smith (added) (2stars) --The Don't-Swear Man (2stars) --Obituary of a Gin Mill (5 stars) --Houdini's Picnic (2stars) --The Mohawks in High Steel (added) (3 stars) --All You Can Hold for Five Bucks (3 stars) --A Mess of Clams (3 stars) --The Same as Monkey Glands (3 stars)
Section 2 (fictional) --Goodbye, Shirley Temple (2 stars) --On the Wagon (3 stars) --The Kind Old Blonde (added) (1 star) --I Couldn't Dope It Out (added) (2 stars)
Section 3 (fictional) --The Downfall of Fascism in Black Ankle County (2 stars) --I Blame It All on Mamma (2 stars) --Uncle Dockery and the Independent Bull (2 stars)
Old Mr. Flood - (fictional)
--Old Mr. Flood (5 stars) --The Black Clams (5 stars) --Mr. Flood's Party (4 stars)
The Bottom of the Harbor – (factual)
--Up in the Old Hotel (4 stars) --The Bottom of the Harbor (3 stars) --The Rats on the Waterfront (3 stars) --Mr. Hunter's Grave (5 stars) --Dragger Captain (3 stars) --The Riverman (4 stars)
Out of Africa was first published in 1937, after the author's return to Denmark. Shadows on the Grass consists of four more essays. The first three we Out of Africa was first published in 1937, after the author's return to Denmark. Shadows on the Grass consists of four more essays. The first three were written in the 1950s and the last, titled 'Echoes from the Hills', was written in the 60s. They just add a few more details about events and characters mentioned in the original book.
The movie Out of Africa, starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, was produced and directed by Sydney Pollack. It was based not only on Blixen's Out of Africa, but also Judith Thurman's Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller, Errol Trzebinski's Silence Will Speak and Blixen's Letters from Africa, 1914-1931. The movie and Out of Africa / Shadows on the Grass are quite different. The movie is best classified as a couple's love story! The book, if it is to be classified as a love story, is of a love between a woman and a land, Africa, more specifically the Kenyan highlands and the Ngong Hills, southwest of Nairobi where she had her coffee farm. She moved here in 1914 after marriage to her Swedish second-cousin, Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke. She remained almost eighteen years, running the farm alone after she and her husband were divorced in 1925. Much of her writing is under the pen name of Isak Dinesen, her father being the Dane Wilhelm Dinesen.
This book is not an autobiography of her life. She writes of the land and the people on her farm. She says very little about family or her personal relationships, except those with her workers. In fact not one word is mentioned of her husband, and very little about her lover, the English big game hunter Denys Finch Hatton. What you are told is of his airplane crash in 1931 and of his burial on her land. In fact you do learn who she was by following her thoughts and what she does. The book is more a set of essays on events that occurred on the farm and her relationship with Kikuyus, Somalis and the nomadic Maasai. It is not complete and it is not told in chronological order. One whole section is devoted to short, short tales about animals, about African folklore and about customs. These read as fables, each with a message. She loved the Africans for their stories! She is a lovely storyteller herself. She writes about the way the Africans honor that which is written, by relating amusing stories. You learn about traditions, the dances and festivals, clothing and food. This is a book about the African world she lived in, and it is beautifully, lyrically described - particularly the landscapes, the air, the views. She is also adept at “seeing” animals. They are not merely furred beasts. They have souls. They have personalities. Her stories about animals are funny and moving, and will appeal to all animal lovers.
I was brought to tears, not when Denys died, but when she had to leave Kenya. The farm failed; it was a hopeless endeavor.
I cannot give this more than three stars. Some sections are hard to follow. Some sections are overly philosophical, but the real problem I had is of how she speaks of “the natives” in a paternalistic, if not racist tone. I do understand that this was the era of colonialism. She respects the "natives", some of them at least, and she acknowledges the wisdom and abilities they have and which Whites often lack, but she doesn't see them as equals. She looks down on them. She sees them with condescension. This disturbed me; I am of a different era! In the beginning sections I wasn’t sure if I was simply misinterpreting her words, but her outlook became blatantly evident in her first essay of Shadows on the Grass, the one entitled Farah.
The narration of the audiobook by Susan Lyons was excellent. The author writes of her African life having returned to Denmark. Sections are nostalgic in tone and Lyons reading reflects this. Clear and easy to understand. After a humorous line she pauses. You have a chance to think and then smile. ...more
Marvelous book. Look, if you are a dog owner, or have been or love dogs you have to read this book. I don't think dog books usually work, but this oneMarvelous book. Look, if you are a dog owner, or have been or love dogs you have to read this book. I don't think dog books usually work, but this one does.
You are in the head of a dog, Mr. Bones. You say, “It just cannot be good!” but I swear it is. Mr. Bones is a scruffy dog. He has a hard life, all sorts of different owners. His first owner was Willy, a bit of a tramp but he had hard times, and then he died. Seven "good" years with Willy, but life goes on.....unless, unless he can get back to Willy!
What makes this book special is that Paul Auster knows how dogs think. Yeah sure, a dog can get confused, but who doesn't?! Secondly, it is so damn funny. And sad....because sadness is tied to good memories. Love and happiness, hard times and good times and sadness, well, they all go together. Don’t they?
One thought of Mr. Bones: "Just turn around the letters of dog and what do you have?"
The narration by Joe Barrett was superb. Couldn't be improved. He just reads the lines, adds only a bit of inflection just when needed. He knows when to pause.
Tell me, does a book have to be serious to be considered worthy of four stars? I don't think so. Read this. It is LOTS of fun.......and sad.
I have bought another book by this talented author. I cannot stop here! ...more
I LIKE my three star books. I recommend them to others. I think in fact others may enjoy this book more than I did. It is very much a love story. I alI LIKE my three star books. I recommend them to others. I think in fact others may enjoy this book more than I did. It is very much a love story. I also gave the author’s The Paris Wife three stars, but Circling the Sun is in fact better. There is an epilogue where the author reveals that she too was separated from her mother at an early age, just as Beryl here. You can feel this connection in the writing.
What the book does tremendously well is draw Kenya - the landscape and the social climate of the expatriate community at the beginning of the 1900s. I liked learning about WW1 in Kenya. I felt Beryl's and Karen Blixen's love for Kenyan soil - the land, the vistas, the air, the fauna. All this becomes tangible through the author's descriptions. Beryl was the first licensed female racehorse trainer in Kenya. Her love for horses shines throughout the book. You feel her enthusiasm for the race - not the money, not the prestige but her love of the animal and her sense of accomplishment to achieve what she set out to do. There is much more about this than her love of flying. (See below.) You learn who Beryl was, what pulls her, what motivates her. By the book's end you also understand what she couldn't do, what she lacked.
She could not (view spoiler)[relate to her lovers, and there are several! Primarily because the one she loved most (Denys Finch Hatton) wasn't accessible. Denys was a free-spirit, like her, but I do believe Beryl would have married him if she could have. There are other reasons too. The social milieu of the expat community to which she belonged abounded with extramarital love affairs. Her inability to connect to others must also have been shaped by her mother's early desertion. In the book, very little is explored concerning her father's decision to move to Cape Town, and subsequently her hurried first marriage. How good a father was he? What were the psychological consequences of this for Beryl? We are only told how much she adored him. (hide spoiler)]
People said to her she lacked fear. She replied she was filled with fear, but she did not give up. I agree. She had great strength. Her fear doesn't show in the book because she would not let it show in real life. When I came to understand the grit of this woman, I also came to understand her floundering behavior with men, which bothered me in the middle of the book.
Still, only three stars. This is because I prefer biographies...and I am giving the stars. Large parts of Beryl Markham’s life are only briefly covered. So much is lacking. The book essentially stops (view spoiler)[when the love of her life is killed in a plane crash (hide spoiler)]. There is not one bit of humor. Not one smidgen.
The narration by Katharine McEwan was good, but her voice fits better the young naive Beryl of her youth rather than the determined woman she came to be. It was slow, which I like. Sometimes I could not distinguish every word clearly.
My thoughts after listening to only a few chapters:
I will say this Circling the Sun sgrabs your attention from the very first pages. It starts off with Beryl (Clutterbuck)Markham's solo flight over the Atlantic in 1936. She was the first woman to do this, flying east to west. This is harder than west to east because you have to fly against the prevailing Atlantic winds. In 1932 a Scot, Jim Mollison, had flown solo from east to west. His intention was to fly from Dublin to NY, but was forced to land in New Brunswick, Canada. Nevertheless, he DID make the first westward solo flight over the Atlantic. Beryl Markham's perilous flight is in the prologue, then it immediately switches to the scene where Beryl, at the age of five is left alone with her father, her mother and older brother having departed back to England. It is dramatic and heartfelt. Only when she receives a box of licorice from her Mom does she realize she is not coming back. The Kipsigis Kenyan tribe near her father's farm metaphorically speaking "takes her in". You immediately sense the child's personality being molded by the desertion of her mother, the determination and will of her father and the native Kenyans. You parallel her native African upbringing with her desire to conquer the skies. Kenya is wonderfully described and you feel for the child.
Could the book possibly remain this engaging?!
The beginning at least is even better than the author'sThe Paris Wife. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Sam Keith, the author of this book, has taken Richard Proenneke's daily journals, recorded from his sixteen month stay during 1968-1969 alone in the ASam Keith, the author of this book, has taken Richard Proenneke's daily journals, recorded from his sixteen month stay during 1968-1969 alone in the Alaskan wilderness, and set them into a book. Proenneke was fifty-two.
The reader follows how Proenneke constructed his cabin from scratch. Even if exact measurements and construction methods are related, if one is not a carpenter I doubt you would be able to use this as a manual....and maybe then you can wonder if such detail is necessary. After the two month construction of his cabin and its interior furnishings, Proenneke is free to spend more time fishing, hunting for necessary food and observing the fauna and flora around him. The weather, the seasons and the animals - they are his day to day companions. Caribou, rams, wolverines, bears, wolves, lynx, squirrels. He counts them and he takes photos. He records the temperature, the depth of the ice on the lake and daylight hours. I particularly enjoyed his growing friendship with animals and birds. Some of the birds came to eat from his hand.
Proenneke is not living completely solitary. On and off food and mail are flown in. He does use tar paper and polyethylene plastic in the construction of his cabin. Still, you get the sense of living with only the most basic products.
Norman Dietz gives a good narration. It is kind of weird but the author doesn’t use adverbs.
I feel it is important that such an experience is recorded just as our need for nature reserves. His cabin is today part of the Lake Clark National Park. ...more
First of all, it IS engaging. I didn't want to stop listening. It is full of information. It keeps you thinking,Oh my, this book is hard to explain.
First of all, it IS engaging. I didn't want to stop listening. It is full of information. It keeps you thinking, and it doesn't necessarily provide answers. Definitely four stars.
It starts and ends with the line "The unexamined life is not worth living." I guess you would have to classify this as a cerebral novel, but also the parts set in Africa are dramatic; one thing happens after another - a civil war and infanticide and aggression and cannibalism and murder. Not one, but several. Murder of chimpanzees, but they are so similar to human beings that these too must be seen as murders. Chimpanzees and bonobos are the closest living relatives to human beings. Chimpanzees are more aggressive than bonobos.
There are three threads which flip back and forth. This is, until you get the knack of it, confusing. One thread is years ago when Hope is in England then married to John, a mathematician. Another thread is in the Republic of the Congo at a chimpanzee game reserve, a research center. Hope is both an ecologist and an ethologist. The African setting occurs later in time, after her marriage has dissolved. A third thread is when she later looks back on her experiences with her husband and then in Africa. She is trying to figure out what went wrong, and why and if she was guilty and what could have been changed. She is an ethologist! She wants to understand....just as her husband had been a mathematician and he too wanted to understand, to simplify life, to get it into a formula, something to put on a paper in black and white. Isn't life for observing and for trying to understand? Do we ever understand? Maybe that is the whole point of the book. Life is a wondrous puzzle that we must try to understand, even if we never will understand. I am not sure, but reading this will keep you thinking. That I guarantee.
I would have appreciated an author's note to place the years of the civil war of the Republic of the Congo / Congo Brazzaville. I call it the little Congo, the one on the ocean, not the big one that is called Democratic but isn't...... I needed to know. I NEVER found an answer and that too is so typical for this book! The book is published in 1990 and the only civil war I could find for this country was from 1997-1999. I sent a question to the author c/o the publisher. Will I get an answer? What is important is that the author has experienced civil wars in Africa, The Biafran War, so the war episodes feel pitch perfect. We know for sure is that the Biafran War is over and that ended in 1970.
The author superbly looks at our closest relative and makes us think about human behavior. There is abundant sex, and it is physical, but human sex IS physical, just as it is with chimps. I think the sex is well done. It might bother some. Not me. There is discord and aggression and manipulation. The parallels are intriguing. I told you it was cerebral. Continually you are comparing chimps and humans and mathematical axioms.
I really liked the narration by Harriet Walter. There is not much she can do to alert the reader to the changes of setting in both time and place. You just have to pay attention. The audio format is challenging but I enjoyed it tremendously. You get help with the setting changes from the point of view used. The African thread is told in first person and the English setting is in third person. There are also short quotes concerning mathematical theories. Sounds complicated? It is, but it is still very, very good. A puzzle to be solved, just like life.
ETA: This I forgot. Recognition, people want and need recognition, but to what degree?! I saw a difference here between John and Hope. John's need of recognition/acclaim was monumental. Hope's less so. I look at Hope and I admire her. She is the central character. She is s modern woman. She is strong and wise and loving and she doesn't expect as much as John. She doesn't demand as much recognition. Who is happier? ...more