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Overloaded Ark

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,139 ratings  ·  39 reviews
The debut book by British naturalist Gerald Durrell. It is the chronicle of a six months collecting trip to the West African colony of British Cameroon - now Cameroon - (Dec 1947 - Aug 1948) - that Durrell made with the highly regarded aviculturist and ornithologist John Yealland.

Their reasons for going on the trip were twofold: "to collect and bring back alive some of the
Paperback, 253 pages
Published 2015 by Faber (first published 1953)
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4.07  · 
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 ·  1,139 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Ms Miaow
Gerald Durrell seems to have the obsession of a collector but not the compassion of an animal lover in this dreadfully unethical book. I know it was written in another age,but I still can't believe that you could just capture endless amounts of birds, animals and insects from other countries and transport them to the UK, and it was legal!

I'm really apalled at the loss of animal life due to the stress of capture/travelling and the fact that it was considered all part of the business of collecting
May 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
Durrell's books are so funny and absorbing; loaded with delightfully, engagingly anthropomorphic portraits of the rare animals he is collecting to finance his private zoo in the Isle of Jersey. This collecting trip takes place in Cameroon, in the rainforest not far from where the first African violet was discovered.

In fact that connection is why I recently decided to re-read it. While teaching a class on the rainforest to 1st & 2nd graders this year, I realized that I had actually read quit
May 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Durrell's voice is winsome, I think, and a little wry, which to my ear dates more slowly than some other, more proper and ponderous nature writers. I've seen other reviewers complaining about the use of pidgin and the colonial attitude evinced by the author, but it strikes me as perfectly accurate to the early 1950s. There are also parts about the trapping, keeping, and selling animals I find unsavoury but true to the times. On the whole, though, his sheer love of wildlife wins the day for me, a ...more
Ian Smith
Jul 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Wonderful first book by Gerald Durrell - and one I remember reading many years ago as a boy with enormous pleasure. Re-reading recently brought back many of those memories, but also raised eyebrows. Clearly a book of its time; it would be nigh on impossible (and thoroughly illegal) to repeat the exploits described, and tipping workers with tobacco is hardly healthy! However, the anecdotes are delightful, his joy in nature is infectious, and the writing is beautiful, though nowhere near as well d ...more
Namitha Varma
While I cannot bring myself to like all this "collecting" animals for zoos business, Durrell's writing is just so honest and enjoyable. The smattering of local flavour - with the pidgin and description of local people, the flora and fauna, and general environment- adds so much character to his books.

Also, a lot of animal deaths in this book. Made me cry.
Txe Polon
Quizás no estoy siendo justo dándole solo dos estrellas a este primer libro de Durrell, pero no puedo evitar pensar que se trata de una obra menor, muy inferior a otras que escribiría posteriormente: en otros libros cada capítulo tiene sentido en sí mismo, enlazando anécdotas con un hilo en común y a menudo con un final de capítulo que retoma el principio, haciendo evidente que cada capítulo se ha pensado y construido como un todo. Sin embargo, en este libro prefiere agrupar anécdotas por lugare ...more
Es un libro muy interesante sobre animales, África, viajes y anécdotas... pero no deja de parecerme triste que en aras de la "ciencia", "la investigación" o lo que sea, se saque a los animales de sus hábitats naturales y se les obligue a vivir una cautividad injusta; además de todas las formas de maltrato al que se les somete tanto en las "cacerías" como en los "traslados", me parece inhumano.

El ritmo de lectura es ágil y la forma en que está escrito es muy amena, a pesar de lo que me provoca el
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Mixed review of this book: The author gives absolutely beautiful descriptions of the land and animals of Cameroon, and he shows true compassion for some of them.

However, The Overloaded Ark must be read as a slice in time. It was written in 1953. His and his partner’s condescension for the individuals who were hosting them as guests as well as the approved practice of capturing and collecting animals to take back to zoos was very, very hard to read at times. While our practices are far from perf
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mmm
If you want a retro look into 1950's animal collecting this is the book for you.
However keeping in mind it's from the 50's, the racism runs rampant.
Also the level of zoological knowledge is very low ,compared to what we know now,and several animals are lost because of this.
The best part of the book are the sketches and descriptions of some very rare animals.

Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
On a whim I picked up my parents' old paperback and gave it a read. It's a page-turner. Great at describing flora/fauna of the west African jungle. But OH how the patronizing, patrician attitudes of the imperial British are evident on every page.
Sonia Gomes
Dec 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who love humour
I do not think, Durrell would have been able to bring animals from the Cameroons to England, in this day and age !
But the book is hilarious and still brings a smile, after all these years whenever I read a chapter.
Bionic Jean
Durrell's account of his expedition to the Cameroons in West Africa in 1953, before Independence.
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Gerald Durrell books are worth re-reading.
Stephen Hamilton
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully warm, amusing and entertaining tale of Gerald Durrell's first animal collecting trip to Cameroon, or British Cameroon as it was then known. In fact, the British Empire is the only thing that mars this book. Nobody could describe Durrell as a racist with any honesty, but his attitudes are still tainted by the prevailing attitude of the English at the time towards the Colonies, and this would quite rightly be considered racism 70 years later. It sadly dates the book quite badly.
M Harris
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: natural-history
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as Durrell's narrative style and humor makes it flow well, be easy to enjoy, and move fairly quickly. This book helps paint a picture of what the forests of British Cameroon were like sixty years ago.
Debut novel by this author, and imho not quite as polished or as humorous as his later works. But still well worth reading, with many LOL moments.
Peter Green
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This is definitely a book of its time. It has a lot of era typical racism and zoological practices which can sometimes be wince inducing. However, as a simple tale of a naturalist collecting, it fulfils its job admirably. Each description of every animal is both detailed and sentimental, providing much more joy than a simple clinical description. The narrator is warm and easy to find amusement in.
Jenny Sparrow
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
С книгами Даррелла я познакомилась ещё в детстве, и с удовольствием прочитала те несколько повестей, что были в домашней коллекции. Потом, когда я уже сама начала копить карманные деньги и покупать себе книги, я купила себе ещё одну книжку, но только начала и отложила. Не прошло и 15 лет, как я перевезла из родительского дома свои книги в новый дом и вот что-то дёрнуло меня взять эту недочитанную книгу с полки :)

В своих повестях Даррелл живо, с юмором и очень по-доброму рассказывает о тех экспед
Apr 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book from another age, or as LP Hartley wrote - "the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there" (I'm sure I've written that before or meant to). Unfortunately so many reviews concentrate on the fact that this book is very un-PC, but for a book written in the 1950's it is how things where and the past cannot be changed.

Gerald Durrell weaves detail and dialogue into a seamless whole that makes me feel like I was there in the Cameroon's watching it happen. He writes descri
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having recently re-read Gerald Durrell’s “Corfu Trilogy,” stories of his family’s life on the Greek island of Corfu in the years leading up to the Second World War, I decided to go on and read some of the books Durrell wrote about his experiences collecting animals for zoos, and, later, establishing his own zoo and animal conservation program. His very first book was The Overloaded Ark, and I had never read it, although I found that I own it! One of the reviews on the back reads, “How seldom it ...more
May 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Должны ли люди знать больше о том мире, в котором они живут? Ответ кажется очевидным. Но никто не берёт в расчёт, что удовлетворение любопытства одних вносит разлад в существование других. В случае Джеральда Даррелла дело касается сбора коллекции из экзотических обитателей Камеруна для зоологических садов Британии. Имея за плечами твёрдый интерес и хорошую финансовую поддержку, Даррелл в декабре 1947 года отправился в шестимесячную поездку с целью привезти обратно требуемых животных. Стоит остав ...more
Olipas aika huikea 'matkakertomus' ja kuvaus Kamerunin eläimistöstä! Minuun teki vahvan vaikutuksen se, että kirja on kirjoitettu vuonna 1953 - aikana, jolloin luontodokumenttien tekemiseen ei ollut käytössä digitaalista tallennusta - piirroskuvat ja todella elävä, värikäs kieli pääsevät arvoonsa tässä kirjassa. Eläinten saalistus alkeellisin välinein ja miesvoimin kuulosti hurjalta, ei ole Durrell tarvinnut hankkia jännitystä seikkailupuistoista ;) Lukiessa tuli mieleen, mitä nykyiset eläinsuoj ...more
Oct 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Gerald Durrell's narration of his collecting trip to the Cameroons is wry and funny - he pokes fun at himself often - but now, 60 years after this was written - much of it is very politically incorrect. I grew up watching those black and white tv episodes of Tarzan and I loved them, thinking that was the real Africa - and I suppose nowadays people think those shows were racist too. Get past that (and the whole "collecting" animals and removing them from their habitat), and the book is very enjoy ...more
Apr 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It stood quite still, regarding me thoughtfully, and the tip of its tail moved very gently among the grass stalks. I had seen domestic cats looking like this at sparrows, twitching their tails, and I did not feel very happy about it. Also, I was stark naked, and I have found that in moments of crisis to have no clothes on gives one a terribly unprotected feeling. I glared at the Serval, wishing that I had my shorts on and that I could think of some way of capturing it without the risk of being d ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a nice and interesting book about animals, Africa and a couple of animal collectors. Full of colorful nature and genuine adventures. It a was a great time reading this book. I am sure to continue reading Durrel sometime later.
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful account of the author's voyage to Cameroon to collect animal specimens. The book is written with a rich sense of humour and full of colourful depictions of the country and its inhabitants, animal or otherwise.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
This was a very funny tale of Gerald Durrell collecting animals from the Cameroon in the 1950's, for Zoo's.
Aaron Haugh
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
A beautifully eloquent account of one mans adventures collecting animals in the British Cameroons. Highly recommended.
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, full of humour. That he was enchanted by the Cameroons and the wildlife shines through.
Alex Chak
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
A funny story about a man from England who travels to parts of Africa in order to capture and study animals.
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Gerald "Gerry" Malcolm Durrell was born in India in 1925. His family settled on Corfu when Durrell was a boy and he spent his time studying its wildlife. He relates these experiences in the trilogy beginning with My Family and Other Animals, and continuing with Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods. In his books he writes with wry humour and great perception about both the humans ...more
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“As I watched the pulsing fire among the trees and heard the beat of the drum merge and tremble with the voices, forming an intricate pattern of sound, I knew that someday I would have to return or be haunted forever by the beauty and mystery that is Africa.” 5 likes
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