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Last Chance to See

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  18,820 ratings  ·  1,047 reviews
After years of reflecting on the absurdities of life on other planets, Douglas Adams teams up with zoologist Mark Carwardine on an expedition to find out what's happening to life on this one.

Paperback, 206 pages
Published November 8th 1991 by Pan Books (first published 1990)
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  18,820 ratings  ·  1,047 reviews

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I love Douglas Adams's science fiction. Just look at my bookshelves. So it's as a firm fan that I say: Douglas Adams was wasted--wasted--on science fiction.

The man is obviously a science writer.

His science fiction was always good. Clearly. But none of it sings like Last Chance to See. This book is a passionate, loving, critical look at the human species and the influence we've had on our planet-mates. It chronicles the decline, and impending loss, of some wonderful, charismatic vertebrates. Itwasted----on
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Riku Sayuj
This book is a travelogue, about a writer and a zoologist who went around the globe in search of exotic animals that are seriously endangered, almost extinct. Douglas Adams is the writer, and author of the hilarious science fiction comedy series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In this book, he again adds humorous touches, but not nearly as far-fetched.

Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine travel around the world in order to get a story for the BBC. Just as much about the animals, it is a

Douglas Adams went around the globe along with zoologist Mark Carwardine in search of various species of animals and birds which were on the verge of extinction in 1985 (when this book was written). My interest was piqued on the thought that if these species were considered endangered in 1985, what would be their current status as of 2012? Well I did some research (I mean I Googled it. But not in an amateurish way, I tried hard enough until I got bored, i.e. after 15 minutes!)

And one thing that
Riku Sayuj

Brilliant book. So funny, yet so deeply saddening... this is among the most evocative and life-changing books that I have read. This title still haunts me and informs a lot of my concerns about the environment and human inaction.
One of those special books that, when you finish, you immediately want to find someone who hasn't read it, and press it into there hands, murmuring insistently, "you have to read this!"

I'm a big Douglas Adams fan. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is one of my all-time favourite series, and the Dirk Gently mysteries aren't far behind. When I set-up my Pantheon list of literary gods, Douglas Adams came straight in at Number 2 (behind Terry Pratchett) - and Last Chance to See was the one, key book tha"you
Yes, I do have to admit that because two of the critically endangered animals species featured in Douglas Adams' 1990 Last Chance to See are now definitely or at least very likely extinct in the wild (the Yangtze River Dolphin and the Northern White Rhinoceros), I knew right from the onset that reading Last Chance to See would more than likely be majorly depressing and infuriating (but that I was of course more than willing to put up with this and that yes indeed, for certain species, such as for exam ...more
J.G. Keely
Adams was an amazingly humorous fellow, but it can be easy to forget that the source of his humor is always surreal profundity. It's as if he sees a completely different world than the rest of us, but one which looks precisely the same. In this book (out-of-print when I found an editor's proof copy) Adams takes that hilariously disparate view and directs it like a spastic and noodly laser at the mis-management of our natural world. There is a reason that Richard Dawkins recalls Adams so fondly a ...more
Kwesi 章英狮
I'm not a zoology student but I have a 3 unit subject and we were required to visit either Manila Zoo or the National Museum of the Philippines animal research section, it was a part of our annual field trip without the teacher in charge. Because I'm new here in Manila last year my classmates decided to go both the zoo and the museum. In spite of the fact that the weather was hot, we were forced to go outside and take pictures for our journal because it was the last day of submission.

Our first stop was the Museum, we were
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"It is certainly the reason why so many people have devoted their lives to protecting the likes of rhinos, parakeets, kakapos and dolphins. It is simply this: The world would be a poorer, darker, lonelier place without them"

And so ends this brilliant travelogue/documentary of sorts that is uplifting, moving and hilarious as only Douglas Adams can. Why wasn't Douglas Adams writing for National Geography?! Developed as a radio show on BBC, the writing provides an account of the travels of the au
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
We have not inherited the Earth from our ancestors, but have borrowed it from our children.
~ Anonymous

Evolution is an ongoing process, and each species simply evolves in different ways to meet the requirements of its ecological niche, extremely specialized to that ecology and lifestyle. There is generally enough time, in the case of a natural change to its ecology, for the species to try to adapt and evolve further. To try to survive. Extinction is nothing new to Earth and 99.99% of all sp
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, essays
Mark Carwardine was a zoologist working for the World Wildlife Fund when he was hired by a magazine to take Douglas Adams to see the world’s rarest nocturnal lemur, the Madagascar aye-aye. The trip was enough of a success that they decided having Adams write funny things about his attempt to visit endangered species was a good way to raise awareness about animal conservation, so they reunited a few years later to track down some other animals whose numbers have fallen into the double digits. The ...more
Dimitris Hall
Douglas Adams proved with this book that he wasn't just a brilliant science fiction writer with a virtually unrivalled wit and sense of humour; it went to show that he had an admirable, enviable even, sense of social and ecological responsibility, taking him, as far as I am concerned, from the "brilliant writer" tier, to the "paradigm of humanity" club, reserved only for those people (and there's not a lot of them around) that can work as true inspiration for me. Last Chance To See is a manifesto on almost ...more
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
An unexpected problem I've encountered with living in a massive city like New York is that I periodically experience really intense cravings for nature (see: the biophilia hypothesis). When this happens, a manicured park or crowded long island beach just won't cut it for me. So whenever I get the big city blues and can't escape I try and find a book that'll make me feel like I'm camping under the stars/hiking in the Amazon/climbing Kilimanjaro. I can confidently say that this is the BEST nature replacement ...more
Nov 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some very serious, important issues here. Sad and poignant. I'll admit, I am definitely one to judge a book by its cover, and I find this cover ghastly. (It was published in 1990, apparently a bad era for book covers). Despite how short this book is—just over 200 pages—it was a struggle for me to get through, just because I don't have very much interest in the subject matter. This is the sort of subject I prefer to explore via Discovery network documentaries, with a deep-voiced narrator calmly i ...more
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever read a book laughing so hard that tears are streaming down your face and then in the next five minutes, crying copiously and having very different tears stream down the same old face? Well, I just did. I always knew that the dodo was extinct but today I sat in a corner and wept for a full fifteen minutes because there are no dodos left in the world anymore. That is what the Last Chance to See does to you. It makes you see things about the world and what we've done with it, things y ...more
Rift Vegan
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
It’s a funny book because it’s Douglas Adams, but very sad thinking about all these animals on their way to going extinct… The book was written in 1990, and I was curious to see if any of the species are doing better. I know that the Northern White Rhinos are essentially extinct… there are just 3 left. And the Baiji or Yangtze River dolphin is most likely extinct as well. I am fascinated by the Kakapos, a parrot who is flightless and nocturnal with a lek breeding system, living in New Zealand. I ...more
Victoria Simpson
Book reviews remind me of high school and sweating over how to make a great book sound appealing without giving away too much information. I'm not sure how to do it so I'll just say that this book is fantastic and I loved it.. It's moving, funny and fill of interesting and sobering information that left me awe struck at how beautiful the world is and saddened by how destructive humans are.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adams and Mark set out over 30 years ago in search of endangered species across the world, and documented their wild encounters, travel mishaps and mosquito bites in comical detail. Adams' fast-paced and engaging writing keeps you entertained as you accompany the team to meet rare birds, lemurs, Komodo dragons, gorillas, rhinos and their passionate conservationists. By the end you are uncomfortably reminded that the human species is the proverbial "bull in a chinashop", having spent centuries ob ...more
Stephanie Griffin
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who care
LAST CHANCE TO SEE, written by Douglas Adams (yes, THAT Douglas Adams!) and Mark Carwardine, is about the adventures they went on around the world to locate and actually see some of the rarest animals and plants. They took these trips in the mid- to late 1980s and the book was published in 1990.
With Adams at the helm the book had to be humorous and it certainly is. Wanting to know about the current state of some of the animals and plants, I did some research and was mostly disheartened. He
Dec 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Douglas Adams. Author of the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy. Writing a nature book? Huh?

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, given that this is Douglas Adams, but Last Chance to See is an excellent and thought provoking book, which is part laugh-out-loud travelogue (including an interesting reminder of what China was like just 25years ago), and part conservation plea

It's power as a book lies is in the juxtaposition of the sharp observations and comic stories of his trave
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Douglas Adams teams up with zoologist Mark Cawardine, as they travel around the world, documenting critically endangered species. By which I mean species with barely enough members to survive the next few decades, if that.

As always, it's a treat to read Douglas Adams' writing, even when it's non-fiction. Humorous anecdotes and witty asides add color and a more human dimension to something that would be bleak and almost voyeuristic otherwise. As the team documents specie
My husband urged me to read this book when it was first written but I feared it would be too depressing. Then when Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine retraced the steps of Carwardine and Adams on TV I realised what a great story this was. Still it languished unopened on our shelves. One day after Christmas it finally caught my eye and me now before it's too late. A little parable for animals and plants in obscure places....appreciate and notice and cherish me now...... Before it's too l ...more
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ecology-diy
Fun travel romp through far-off places to look at cool animals. A little shallow, though-- not enough science to make it educational and interesting, too little culture or political commentary to make it opinionated and interesting. Give me more of all of it, more descriptions of ecosystems and the roles of these animals within them, more discussion of the impact and interactions of different human economies and cultures on these ecosystems, and more hilarious travel dialogue of Adams realizing ...more
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some time ago, I finished reading the Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the stellar and utterly hilarious sci-fi series by Douglas Adams. When I finished reading it, I was upset because the series had ended, and I vowed to read all his other books till I got over being upset. So I picked up Last Chance To See, not knowing at all what it was about.

I am amazed, how is it possible that Douglas Adams, an author of fiction, wrote an entire non-fiction book about endangered specie
Jul 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing

Douglas Adams' famous book about his travels to animals that are about to be extinct. As entertaining, hilarious and smart as everything else Adams has written, but because of its subject definitely my favourite of his books. I can't believe I waited so long to read this. Maybe, if more people had read this book sooner, the statistics would look a bit better today. Let's take a look at how the animals that Adams visited in 1990 are doing 16 years later.

Komodo Drag
Nicholas Armstrong
If a book is well-written, and I don't simply mean it is an enjoyable romp, I mean really well written -- it is consistent, there is no break in the flow, voice, or tone -- and it accomplishes the elusive task of making you think, then what might we call that book? I would call it remarkable.

Douglas Adams is one of the most amusing writers of all time, perhaps even the most amusing writer of all time; couple this with an incredible intellect and the ability to write quite well and you get a pretty im
In 1985 Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine set off in the hope of spotting the Madagascar aye-aye, a nocturnal lemur nearing extinction. The trip was a success and so the duo came back together a couple years later to seek out more animals that were verging on the brink with the idea that their travels and Adams' writing would shine a much needed spotlight on said brink.

Like the Madagascar aye aye, my encounter with Adams' Last Chance to See adventuring was a nocturnal one. In simplicity, I couldn'
Wil C. Fry
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

This is a fascinating, entirely true tale in which Adams and (Mark) Carwardine encounter a plethora of interesting characters, some of them human, all over the world. On the way, Adams is pummeled by insights and epiphanies about the very nature of life, evolution, and being human.

In the 29 years since this book was published, two of the seven species highlighted here have gone "functionally extinct" and others are still endangered, some of them critically. This drives home the real zinger: that the imphuman.


This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aminoddin Domado
This was the first book that I read that is written by Douglas Adams. Prior to reading it, I knew him from his much-known books, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series that is. However, it happened that I got the former—a nonfiction book. I was expecting it to be great. And it delivered. With the lack of words to describe it, the book was indeed an important read. It is one of the books that personally moved me as a human, as a living thing.

One of the best quality of Adams is his inc
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Douglas Noël Adams was an English author, comic radio dramatist, and musician. He is best known as the author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Hitchhiker's began on radio, and developed into a "trilogy" of five books (which sold more than fifteen million copies during his lifetime) as well as a television series, a comic book series, a computer game, and a feature film that was complete ...more
“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” 523 likes
“We are not an endangered species ourselves yet, but this is not for lack of trying.” 56 likes
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