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Las Raices del Cielo

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,040 ratings  ·  98 reviews
n 1956 this book exploded into the world. A huge bestseller in France, it won the country's most prestigious award, the Prix Goncourt. In the US it was an immediate bestseller, and the basis of a spectacular movie. Why? Gary was hardly a household name. French novels were rarely a popular success. But the subject-the deliberate and relentless hunting and killing of elephan ...more
Paperback, 404 pages
Published November 1st 1995 by Del Sol Publishing (first published 1956)
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 ·  1,040 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Les Racines du ciel = The Roots of Heaven, Romain Gary
The Roots of Heaven (French: Les Racines du ciel) is a 1956 novel by the Lithuanian-born French writer and WW II aviator, Romain Gary (born Roman Kacew). It received the Prix Goncourt for fiction and was translated in English in 1957. The Roots of Heaven, is the story of a crusading environmentalist, Morel, who labors to preserve elephants from extinction, but which narrative is actually a metaphor for the quest for salvation for all humanity
The first environmentalist novel - or a sum total of the conundrum of la condition humaine?

Morel travels in Africa in the middle of post-World War II chaos, with the sole mission of protecting elephants against two enemies: trophy hunters and local meat hunters. As he gathers followers and enemies, people start spinning webs of rumours around him. Surely, nobody dedicates a life to loving and saving NATURE? There must be something else behind it.

Depending on personal standpoint, each individual
Nature or man?
This is one of the early works of Romain Gary, though written when the author was already in his fourties. Gary has a cosmopolitan background: born in Latvia, with Jewish-Russian-Polish roots, but raised in France and very engaged in the Second World War, and afterwards as a diplomat for France.

This novel testifies to his capability to focus on the concept of human dignity in its existential context. The story is situated in what was formerly French Equatorial Africa, stretched be
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Elephants are edible. Strangely, however, I have never taken part in the eating of one, whether as a direct participant or a mere spectator, I who have eaten dogs, bats, monitor lizards, birds, snakes, and other reptiles. Not even on TV, on that show by the bald American who says if it looks good, eat it.

In fact, prior to this book, I didn't know that some people eat elephant meat. And after I was done reading, I still did not know what is elephant meat called, like pork is to pig.

Morel. That's
Maughn Gregory
Jun 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I found this novel at our town's library sale and it was one of my luckiest finds ever, because I didn't know the book or the author, it's been out of print a long time (published in 1956), and it's one of the best books I've read in years. The story is compelling: Holocaust survivor misfits campaigning to save the African elephant, first by petition and argumentation, then by selective violence, in Post-WW2 Chad, who are themselves exploited, hunted and/or aided by African nationalists, Europea ...more
This is my second book by Romain Gary and I really enjoy his writing. This book, written in 1956, is a post war book that examines what it takes to survive. This is a tale of Morel, a French dentist that has come to French Equatorial Africa to campaign for the elephants which are in danger of extinction. This is shortly after WWII, colonialism is reaching its end in Africa and the people of Africa are seeking independence. We have various characters; missionaries, anthropologists, prostitutes, g ...more
Deb W
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't read books again, because there are just too many books I want to read and so little reading time that remains. This book, if I were to read a book again, it would be this book.
This book is excellent--intense, strong, upsetting, infuriating, and frustrating.

First published in 1956, it looks at colonialism, nationalism, and traditional lifestyles in the context of French Equatorial Africa. This is all shaped around Morel, a Frenchman who has decided to defend the elephants and thinks hunting should be banned. (All hunting--traditional, for ivory, and big game for sport.) Waitari, a French-educated Oulé and nationalist, joins his cause to reach his own ends. The tribes,
Louis-ferdinand Goffin
Just finished what is my first reading of Romain Gary and ... wow !!! He captured me in only two pages and kept me until the very last word. A travel across space and time to The French colonies in Africa in the 50’s. A complex novel full of humanism, a front runner writing on ecology and African emancipation, a confluence of charismatic characters. If Ernest Hemingway and Robert Capa mean something to you, no only their respective works of art, but their lifes in their very fanciful aspect, the ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this elegant exploration of the clash of cultures, the nuances of human interests and the depiction of post World War II Equatorial Africa. Morel is obsessed with the protection of elephants from the cruelty of traditional village hunters and the big game hunters from the West who kill for sport. His motivation is attributed to various things according to the viewpoint of those assessing him. Gary shows an acute understanding of human motivation as he depicts how various characters aspir ...more
"Ever since dawn the track had followed the hillside across a tangle of bamboos and elephant grass in which the horse and rides sometimes disappeared entirely; then the Jesuit's head would reappear above the yellow sea, with his big bony nose set above virile and smiling lips, and with those piercing eyes that carried in them far more suggestion of limitless horizons than of the pages of a breviary."

Thus opens Romain Gary's brilliant novel of passion and freedom; the passion of a man, Morel, for
Kevin Pedersen
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-tour
There is a lot to unpack here. This is a Book, one to put on a Book Shelf.

"The Roots Of Heaven" was published in 1958 and it deals with the aftermath of the Holocaust in a way that feels raw and real... it is neither saccharine melodrama nor is it attempting to live up to all the history that just happened (see "Exodus"). Instead, it's a story that just lives in a world recently gone crazy. Characters try to cope with World War 2 (and the oncoming nuclear age) without knowing how it's all going
Felt sorry for Morel and his innocence, his crusade to save the elephants from the big game hunters and the natives comes from events in his own history. His heart is in the right place but he doesn't have any concept of what is going on around him. Romain goes into the politics of Morel's actions and those involved in his story, the background of the characters is explained and we're told what happens to them after the events.
It's a story of it's time, a period of world history I'm not famillia
Zoha Azimi
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Romain Gary is amazing. the theme of this book reminded me of good bye Gary Cooper, and it was as awesome as it, too.
Morel and Mina are kind of a character that you will not forget, you just live with them, you understand them.
one of the other things that I loved about this book is that you feel love in a very soft way, it is not like emphasising on it till you doubt its existence, it is out there and there is no need for mentioning it.
Rūta Marozaitė
The book changed my approach.
Bob Newman
Duped Dreamer Fails to Protect Pachyderms

Ah, well, I was not enamored of the first of Gary's novels that I read, but I thought I'd give another one a try. Alas, it was not better at all. This is an extremely youthful novel set in a country (Chad) that I doubt he ever saw. This is always a mistake. While on one hand claiming to stand for freedom, equality, and the romance of Life---maybe the common bonds that exist in the souls of all men---Gary's love of cynicism drags him into creating a very
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-2
This book was wonderful, and I love Romain Gary's novels. However, I found this novel very difficult to follow as to who was speaking and who was responding. I have read all his novels in French. This is my second reading of this novel. I think a cast of characters would have been helpful. Also, he uses run-on sentences which are WAYYYYYYYYY ! too long.
I wonder if his editor had any input on sentence construction?
When I learned that he committed suicide I was truly shaken and very sorry.
I bel
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe it took me seven days to read this novel, when I had expected to do it in three at most. I have decided that generally the mid-twentieth century French authors wrote some great novels but obstinately refuse to take it easy on their readers. Like French food, you don't just chomp and swallow your way through it in a rush but must chew 30 times, pause, lift your eyes to heaven, and savor. This novel was no exception and was filled with deep points to ponder, which a reader could fa ...more
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such a good book with very interesting characters and background stories. If a little heavy handed on the freedom theme. It took me so long to read it because it was terribly bound, the covers cracked off in pieces and I was afraid to break the spine in case the whole book fell apart - a lame reason to take so long, but it was hard to even open this book enough to read it!
David R. Godine
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The immensity, the loneliness of the further reachers of French Africa is an impressively suggestive backdrop for the [campaign] which is launched by a stray idealist…A curious and curiously convincing drama…a thoughtful and forceful piece of work. —Kirkus Review

…the first identifiably ecological novel in the literature of France, and perhaps the world. —David Bellos
Aveugle Vogel
"famous lemonade"
P.S. Winn
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting read as a dentist decides that he needs to save the elephants in africa who are hunted and killed for their ivory tusks. great story.
Book Wormy
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017, 1001-read
A philosophical story about freedom told against the backdrop of colonial Africa with Elephants as the symbols of freedom. This is a thought provoking book.

Warning there are harrowing descriptions on elephant hunting and the effects of a widespread drought on all the animal populations in Africa.

"No amount of good will could save the elephants. There could no longer be enough room in this world for such freedom."

"The roots of heaven are forever planted in their hearts , yet of heaven itself they
I really liked Romain Gary's "The Roots of Heaven" even though I found the book to be a tough, slow read. (Possibly due to translation issues, but maybe that's just the way it was written.)

The story, set in French Equatorial Africa in the waning days of colonialism follows Morel whose self-proclaimed goal is to save the elephants from extinction. What that goal means to the numerous people around him varies -- is it a political statement, a push to fight French colonialism or something more?

Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't really enjoy this book. Not so much because of the story but because of the author's way of writing it. The only reason i read it all was because it was for school. I rarely give up on a book and even though it wasn't my favorite the plot was still interesting and I was curious to know how it was going to end.
Aug 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
Romain Gary was probably one of the first writers who dedicated a book to saving nature. In this book he tells about a group of people going to Africa and how they try to save the elephants from extinction.
Adam Maid
Aug 22, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
i found this on the train, so it's probably good for my cosmic well-being to give it a read.
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful , complex and thought provoking !
Feb 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2004
Hilarious. Fun read.
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
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Romain Gary was a Jewish-French novelist, film director, World War II aviator and diplomat. He also wrote under the pen name Émile Ajar.

Born Roman Kacew (Yiddish: קצב, Russian: Кацев), Romain Gary grew up in Vilnius to a family of Lithuanian Jews. He changed his name to Romain Gary when he escaped occupied France to fight with Great Britain against Germany in WWII. His father, Arieh-Leib Kacew, ab
“... Някой ден със сигурност ще се продават хапчета за човечност. И човек ще взема сутрин по едно на гладно, преди да се срещне с другите.” 21 likes
“...хуморът е безшумен и благовъзпитан динамит, който ви позволява да взривите настоящото си положение винаги щом ви дойде до гуша, но извънредно дискретно и без последствия.” 9 likes
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