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Born Free: The Full Story
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Born Free: The Full Story

(Story of Elsa #1-3)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  273 ratings  ·  18 reviews
"A special edition of Born Free by Joy Adamson reissued with a bright retro design to celebrate Pan’s 70th anniversary.

In 1960, Joy Adamson first introduced to the world the story of her life alongside Elsa – the lioness she had rescued as an orphaned cub and raised to adulthood at her home in Kenya. But, as Elsa had been born free, Joy made the heart-breaking decision t
Paperback, Pan 70th Anniversary Edition, 421 pages
Published September 7th 2017 by Pan Books (first published 1960)
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4.18  · 
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 ·  273 ratings  ·  18 reviews

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This volume is a reprint of the three books written by Joy Adamson about Elsa the lioness. The first Born Free is sweet, so terribly sweet that you have to brush your teeth before and after reading, it narrates how her husband shot a lioness (I think actually the wrong one) and how the couple adopted the three cubs, two were eventually air freighted to Rotterdam, they live with the third, Elsa for a while before letting her loose in a part of Kenya decided upon by Adamson's husband, a game ward ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The well-known story of raising a lion cub - and successfully releasing her into the wild, the first time that this had been attempted. The challenges, both natural and bureaucratic, were enormous and are well-documented. The books (three "parts" in this particular volume) were written based on Joy's notes and George's journals. This is the weakest point, as certain sections, probably those written more from the sources than directly from memory, are a bit dry. Nonetheless a wonderful story - bo ...more
Lee Broderick
Imagine my confusion. All my life I've been able to see Born Free , Living Free and Forever Free on my mum's bookshelf. I know roughly what size they are. This was much longer than I was expecting and although I tried vainly to convince myself that perhaps it was just an effect of reading a digital edition (how accurate are those page numbers, really?) it was a third of the way into the book that the truth was revealed to me: this is not Born Free, it's The Story of Elsa. Perhaps that subti ...more
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: really-good
I've been a fan of Elsa the lioness since I was young. I have seen the movie multiple times, but this is my first experience with the book. I loved it! Altough the movie is nice, the book gives a new perspective to Elsa's life. I loved how detailed it was and there were pictures - that really helped me to get a nice vision. I got seriously attached to Elsa.
(view spoiler)
I know that I read this as a child, and of course, I have seen the movie many times, but it is as amazing a story now as it was back in the 1950s and 1960s when it was happening. This is a true story about a couple who hand-raise a lion cub named Elsa and then release into the wild when she becomes an adult. They share a magical once-in-a-lifetime relationship with her and are able to visit her often even after she has become a "wild" lioness capable of injuring or even killing them.
Lucy Siskova
Feb 18, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Když jsem se jednou dívala na Animal Planet, právě tam běžel pořád o lvech z rezervace, a jak se o ně občas starají strážci - odchytnou je, zjistí biometrické údaje, případné očkování nebo ošetření, a pustí je zpátky. Tenkrát měmina pronesla něco jako: "Proč nenechají ty lvy být?" A přesně tohle jsem si říkala, když jsem četla tuhle knížku.
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, africa, wildlife
I am so torn on this book. This really was the "full story" with no details left out.

Born Free is such a wonderful story but it was the two follow-up books that rubbed me the wrong way. Joy was no doubt a remarkable woman but her attachment to Elsa past her release prohibited the lioness from teaching her three cubs how to be completely wild. Easier said than done, I understand.

The second two books were more like field journals than books. You get every single detail of almost every single day
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First part was great. I think the trouble with real life is you don't get a satisfactory ending!
Good book, think they probably did get a bit obsessed, but this is all the better for it. Some hair raising asides, like where an unknown lion went in her tent, but is all shrugged off in their can do and get on with it attitude.
Matthew Barnes
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A powerfully moving memoir of two very different worlds.
James Tidd
A wonderful story telling from Joy Adamson's point of view of how she helped bring up Elsa the lioness, after her mother was shot by George for protecting her cubs (unknown to George at the time). It seems to me that this particular edition covers not only Born Free, but the two following sequels: Living Free (Part Two) and Forever Free (Part Three).

I think that this was well written, as Adamson tells the reader of her experiences in bringing up Elsa, having to do the same for Elsa's own cubs (J
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
We were headed to Meru and Elsa's Kopije so we felt compelled to read about the Adamsons and
Elsa. I had seen the movie as a child and felt I knew the story already. Reading about Joy and George's efforts to care for, and reeducate, the orphaned Elsa was eye-opening and inspiring. The book reintroduced us to these two complex and committed humans and to a lion with the intelligence to straddle two worlds.
I hope that the books will be reissued--they deserve a much greater audience. Murdered by p
Maureen Ulrich
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this ebook, not realizing that I was buying the entire trilogy. That was a nice surprise! Once again the movie Born Free, which I haven't seen for some time, romanticizes some of the details of Elsa's release. However, the story of Elsa reveals the intelligence of the species and the importance and challenges of conservation. I have no doubt park directors didn't relish a visit from Joy Adamson, who was a passionate and relentless spokesperson on the subject. Her detailed account of her ...more
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Are you surprised this book sat on my bookshelf for many years before getting around to read it? I'm not! This seems to be a recurring theme with me. At any rate, this was an excellent story and an easy read. I shouldn't have waited so long in reading it. The same author has at least two other books I may check in to reading. Born Free is definitely worthwhile reading. Don't wait as long as I have in doing so.
Kevin Pedersen
I was struck by the part where book talks for a while about the lost habitats of the African wild, and how things are plodding along towards industrialization, and how many fewer animals you see on the plain. That was 50 years ago... I can only speculate how much further we've gone from the ideal since then.
Better for reading in chunks (as I did, over many months!) than all in one go. Interesting detail and a fascinating portrait of the time as well as animal behaviour etc.
Amazing story of Joy Adamson and lion called Elsa and her cubes
Tim Morley
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Jan 29, 2015
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Vivianne Welford
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Mar 28, 2012
Bonnie Giacovelli
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Jan 25, 2015
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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

Other books in the series

Story of Elsa (4 books)
  • Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds (Story of Elsa, #1)
  • Living Free (Story of Elsa, #2)
  • Forever Free: Elsa's Pride (Story of Elsa, #3)