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Father of Lions: The Remarkable True Story of the Mosul Zoo Rescue

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  56 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Father of Lions is the powerful true story of the evacuation of the Mosul Zoo, featuring Abu Laith the zookeeper, Simba the lion cub, Lula the bear, and countless others, faithfully depicted by acclaimed, award-winning journalist Louise Callaghan in her trade publishing debut.

Combining a true-to-life narrative of humanity in the wake of war with the heartstring-tugging
ebook, 272 pages
Expected publication: January 14th 2020 by Forge Books (first published September 5th 2019)
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Diane S ☔
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor-2019, 5000-2019
What an absolutely incredible story. A true story full of heart, living under ISiS, war, hope andd those who care, even putting themselves in danger for a few helpless animals.

Mosul was once a vibrant city, s city of families, where a young girl could play hop scotch in front of her house. All this changes when ISIS arrives. Soon many are thrown out of their houses, others hide in their houses, and public execution become a daily event. What food there is available is expensive and many do not
Cindy Burnett
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Father of Lions tells the tale of the ISIS occupation of Mosul, Iraq, in the mid-2010s through the lens of Abu Laith (known as the “Father of Lions”) and his attachment to certain animals from the Mosul Zoo. While the story related to the lions and other animals is interesting, I found the descriptions and details of Mosul’s ISIS occupation and its residents various responses to the occupation to be the most fascinating and compelling portions of the book.

To say war is terrible is stating the
Diane Yannick
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reviewed this ARC for Book Browse. Its publication date is January 2020. Louise Callaghan, the author, spent a huge chunk of time researching and writing this true account of the Mosul zoo. This reader, for one, is very grateful. The backdrop is Iraq during the reign of Isis. I have a much better understanding of what this occupation was like after reading this book. The hunger, the attacks, the inhumanity all became real. Abu Laith, the father of the lions, was one of the most unique ...more
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookish
Ordinary people in extraordinary times can accomplish the heroic.

Father of Lions: One Man's Remarkable Quest to Save the Mosul Zoo by Louise Callaghan tells the story of the people who worked to save the Mosul Zoo animals under unimaginable circumstances. The privations of wartime, the societal and political shifts under ISIS, and the extraordinary measures taken to extract the animals are vividly rendered.

Abu Laith loved animals. As a boy, he brought home two dogs who became his constant
Nicole Wagner
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as a free advance reader copy from the publisher, and as usual when starting a new ARC, I didn't know what to expect.

This book started out pretty slowly, introducing us to two Iraqi families and chronicling the takeover of ISIS. Far from being a journalistic commentary on Middle Eastern relations, though, the actions of ISIS are depicted as gradually moving from tiresome, to ridiculous, to outrageous, to baffling, to terrifying. Everyone does their level best to keep life as
I was fortunate to be randomly selected by Forge Publishers for an ARC. I debated between a three or four stars ratings for this very readable book but opted for the three. Just my personal opinion but I believe the editor needed to work with the author on shortening the back story of Abu Laith as it did not add to the book. The people of Mosul are courageous and I can't begin to imagine how they managed their daily lives. I appreciated the postscript so we were not left hanging as to what has ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I normally do not pick up non-fiction, but the premise of this book looked intriguing and the writing seemed more like a novel. It was fascinating! And terrifying, as the story progressed. A much needed look into life under ISIS occupation in Iraq, in a city where the people lived under increasingly difficult situations and restrictions.

I appreciated the writing style. I find a lot of non-fiction to be chock-full of page-long paragraphs, frequent tangents, dry writing. In Father of Lions, thanks
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults, non-fiction fans from YA on up
I felt transported to Mosul, Iraq and enjoyed this book. Abu Laith, the main character of the book, is an animal lover who has always dreamed of owning his own zoo, and he wants his animals to be well cared for. Readers who are searching for strictly an animal story, however, should note that the attractive cover design might be slightly misleading. The story's focus is more about surviving under a frightening regime. Abu Laith's life, from his hopes and dreams, to the intense fear his family ...more
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent true story of a family and a team of strangers that fight to save the animals of a neglected zoo in Mosul. An informative and dramatic look at Mosul civilians that face danger all around them due to an on-going war just outside their front doors, and facing starvation, cruelty, and violence from the occupying soldiers of the Iraq Army then Daesh and Isis. With much sacrifice and unwavering dedication, Abu Laith (Imad Sabah) gave everything he had and more to care for the animals of ...more
Dec 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I appreciated the story of the self-appointed "father of lions" and not just his struggles, but all of those in war-torn Mosul. I can't imagine the daily fear that would be involved for people that live in and around the region, with ever-changing rules that you have to abide by. When you don't live in the region, it's easy to not know or understand the daily fight for the people that live there. While I had made it a point to know this information, having an account such as this, with Abu ...more
Father of Lions is a fascinating glimpse into life in Mosul before, during, and after ISIS (Daesh) control. Until the last quarter of the book or so, it focused far less on the zoo and the few animals struggling to survive than it did on the humans, however. I hadn't expected this, so it seemed almost like reading a civilian survival story and its animal-rescue-themed sequel. Louise Callaghan has done an amazing job of evoking the tense, dusty waiting and mortar-driven hiding inherent in an ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a reasonably well organized story about a man who did everything he could to take care of some zoo animals, particularly bears and lions, during the ISIS occupation of Mosul, Iraq. The book portrays many details of the occupation, and my heart goes out to the people who had to live with that kind of terror just a few short years ago. It’s sickening how people could twist religion into something so harmful.

But the actual zoo activities aren’t all that prevalent in the story. And i really
Sarah Cook
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will admit from the beginning that this book isn't one I'd normally go out of my way to grab and read. When I won it in the raffle, I wasn't sure how I felt about that.
Let me just start off by saying, I was completely blown away. This book not only was written completely beautifully, but the story was incredible. I found myself pulled into the scene immediately each turn of the page. It was so life-like that I felt like I was right there at times.

It made me reflect on us as humans and how we
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
Abu Laith, whose name means Father of Lions, has always had a fondness for animals; ever since he was a young boy and felt closer to animals than he did to other children. His dream is of one day opening a zoo, one where the animals can roam free, but many obstacles stand in his way, including the ISIS occupation of Mosul and it’s zoo.

Father of Lions is an intense, honest telling of the horrible consequences of war—the hunger, the fear, and the destruction—as well as the strength that people
Karlie Schaefer
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"It was his first encounter with an important truth --- that good things come from being kind to animals."

I absolutely loved Father Of Lions, both the man and the book. Abu Laith is such a kind, good-hearted person. We need more people like him in this uncaring world.Louise Callaghan tells an engrossing true story of his life, the ISIS occupation of Mosul, and the eventual evacuation of Zombie the lion from the war ravaged city. I couldn't put this book down, devouring it in 2 days (pun sort of
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was absolutely beautifully written. The descriptions were so realistic that you could practically see the streets, you could definitely smell the food, and you could hear the bustle and the chaos. I wish you could rate the author individually on different aspects of the book, because for that alone she should get five stars. However, that being said, the story could still use some tightening up. There's a lot of information that could be removed from the story that was superfluous - ...more
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Father of Lions is non-fiction that reads like fiction. The story is so amazing, it is hard to believe that it actually happened!

Even though this is a story about taking care of animals during wartime, it is the human element that I found striking. Abu Laith is a self-taught, self-appointed part-time zookeeper and lover of animals. He and his family are forced to live under ISIS in Mosul. Abu Laith must take care of his family and find a way to care for the animals he loves as well. Just
Kim Bakos
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
This is the second book I've read recently regarding the ongoing wars in the Middle East. One thing both stories have made me realize is how the people from that area are just like us - most are hardworking families just trying to survive in a war zone. They are not all prospective terrorists as the current political climate portrays them.
As an animal lover, it is heartbreaking to read about how the animals ultimately pay the price for war with no understanding of what is going on or why they
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All i have to say is wow! I am so happy that i got the opportunity to read this book. Thank you for the ARC copy provided by Bookish First!

This book is a work of nonfiction following the story of a man named Abu who works the Mosul Zoo in ISIS invaded Iraq. We follow Abu and his journey to help save the animals and the zoo during this terrifying time in the country. Abu is particularly found of the lions he looks after, hence the title "Father of Lions". This is current day history that I had
This book was so full of everything from intrigue to heart pounding moments where , I couldn’t contain myself ! So much drama ! Makes you realize how scary war and isis really were to these people who lived in fear , poverty , starvation and literally had to fight for their lives and the lives of their families ! This man Abu Laith who fought for these animals ,who stuck by there side and fought for them and this doctor Dr Amir who also fought through hell to get these animals out of Mosul and ...more
Cheryl Dale
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved reading this story with a new perspective on Iraqi wartime. Who ever thinks about preservation of the animals when your very life is threatened daily? Abu Laith does. His love for animals, especially the lion cub, is amazing given the war torn and dangerous environment he and his family live in and try to survive. I gained new perspective in what it is like to live with the threat of Isis. This story had humor as well as heartbreak, tension and moments of kindness and caring. You will ...more
Karishma Sinha
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Father of Lions definitely is a brilliantly written book by Louise Callaghan. The story puts a face on life under ISIS through the eyes of Mosul Zoo.
Abu Laith is a zoo-keeper in Mosul and this is his struggle to keep his animals safe during the war. The story reminds us that a war is not just between countries where one emerges as a winner in the end. Going down to the basic details of how the war changes every single thing around us and within us; Abu Laith, his family and his protégées risk
Amanda F.
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Father of Lions is an unbelievable true story about an animal rescue through Isis, Daesh, and Iraq territories while a war is still raging. I haven't read anything about how destructive the war in Iraq is for the civilians, so just reading a war story was interesting enough to me. To add on to the civilians troubles by showing how helpless animals were destroyed or affected adding an extra layer of empathy towards what is going on in the country. A blurb said this is perfect for fans of The ...more
Kim McGee
Abu Laith, dubbed the Father of Lions gave his life to keeping a ragtag little group of animals alive in a war zone. With the constant danger of shelling, ISIS, the animals being consumed for food, Laith and a handfull of others, kept watch and found ways to take care of three lions, a bear and her cub, a handful of monkeys and birds. He also found a way to get them out of the Mosul Zoo even though it meant never seeing the lion cub he raised again. This is an amazing story of how an animal ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Abu-Laith is a man of many dimensions. He’s a successful businessman who has built a place of worship for his community in Mosul that he rarely visits. His wife is a firecracker and he has many, many children. He is also the self-proclaimed zookeeper of the Mosul zoo who’s only “formal” training in zookeeping comes for the National Geographic. Amid the danger, cruelty and chaos of the ISIS occupation of Mosul, Abu Laith becomes fixated on saving the battered and starving zoo animals, including a ...more
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This story has many facets. During the occupation of Mosul in Iraq by ISIS, the people there suffered constant bombings, killings, occupations of their homes and changes to their lifestyle. This is the story of that time period and how the people came together to try to save the animals in the zoo, in particular, Abu Laith. Many animals did not survive and those that did were starving, flea ridden and in bad shape. Eventually, through the help of Four Paws and Dr. Amir, and after danger to ...more
Michelle Willms
This is heartbreaking, astounding, frustrating, and uplifting. It is inspiring that one man felt such love for a zoo. I can understand his overwhelming love for animals. I felt myself becoming completely immersed in this family's story as they feared for their lives, but stayed within a highly volatile and very dangerous city in order to do all they could for their zoo and their lion. This is a story for everyone. There is much to be learned from this tale of danger, hardship, dedication, and ...more
Lori Tatar
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so glad I had the opportunity to read this book, courtesy of Goodreads. What I thought I knew ... the depiction of Mosul during its occupation, and the reality of life under Al Qaida’s domination, I only thought I knew. What the Moswalis have had to endure, what they were forced to witness and even participate in ... I am truly speechless. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is truly character-driven by some of the strongest, most clever people you will ever know of, especially ...more
Received ARC from BookBrowse
Trying to live a "normal" life in Mosul during the Daesh occupation, the main character, Abu Laith, focused on saving the animals in the Mosul zoo...his special friends...sometimes to the detriment of his family. The research and committment of the author to take the reader to an unknown place was astonishing. To get this perspective on the Taliban occupation was educational as well as necessary. The families whose stories are told here bring us into their nightmare.
Gayle Cupit
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Bookish First Rea...: Father of Lions by Louise Callaghan 4 5 Nov 16, 2019 03:49PM  

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