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The Elephant Whisperer
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September 2019: Cultural > The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony - 4 stars

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Joy D | 3068 comments The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence - 4 stars

PBT Comments: This one fits the cultural tag with respect to the Zulu tribes and life in the African bush. I loved it. If you're an animal lover, you will want to read it (as long as you can handle some animal trauma and death). Overall it's a very uplifting read.

“In 1999, I was asked to accept a herd of troubled wild elephants on my game reserve. I had no inkling of the escapades and adventures I was about to embark upon. I had no idea how challenging it would be or how much my life would be enriched. The adventure has been both physical and spiritual. Physical in the sense that it was action from the word go, as you will see in the following pages; spiritual because these giants of the planet took me deep into their world.” – Lawrence Anthony, The Elephant Whisperer

Fascinating memoir of the adventurous life of wildlife conservationist Lawrence Anthony, head of Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, Kwa-Zulu Natal province, South Africa. In the early years of his custodianship of Thula Thula, he took in a herd of troubled elephants who were about to be destroyed. This is the story of how he developed a special relationship with these animals to help them get over their belligerent dealings with humans. He lived in the bush next to them as they adapted to life in the wilds of the reserve. It shows how humans and animals can form close bonds and how animals communicate in ways we do not always understand.

This book is so much more than a “book about elephants,” though they play a starring role. It covers interactions with a wide range of other wildlife, including the leopard, hyena, kudu, lion, rhino, cape buffalo, crocodile, and more. His pet dogs are featured, and human interactions are not neglected. It was particularly interesting to read of his dealings with poachers, rangers, officials, and Zulu leaders. In fact, it includes a great deal of history, culture, traditions, spiritual beliefs of the neighboring Zulu tribes, as well as the impact of the former apartheid policies.

This book contains story after story of wild adventures that take place over an undefined number of years, which are well-chosen for their level of significance, adventure, danger, or comedic effect. For example, there are stories of trying to herd a mfezi (Mozambican spitting cobra) out of his and his wife’s bedroom and an escaping cape buffalo that chases one of the reserve staff around a vehicle. The book flows in a “never-a-dull-moment” style, though the writing is choppy at times and the book is really more a series of short episodes rather than single a cohesive story. The elephants are the “characters,” and each has a distinct personality. The author employs humor but does not shy away from the gut-wrenching and sad parts of the life in the African wilderness.

I was so enthralled that I kept telling my friends and family about these anecdotes and was inspired to do further research. This book will appeal to anyone with a passion for animals, concern about wildlife conservation, or desire to find out what it is like to operate a game preserve in Africa.

“But perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that there are no walls between humans and the elephants except those we put up ourselves, and that until we allow not only elephants, but all living creatures their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves.” – Lawrence Anthony (1950-2012)

Link to My GR Review


Booknblues | 5318 comments I loved this book as well. Have you heard about the elephants reaction to his passing?


message 3: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7112 comments Another add-on to that Towering Turret of mine....I know I will enjoy this one!


message 4: by Book Concierge (last edited Sep 12, 2019 06:07AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5537 comments Well said, Joy. I also loved this book.


message 5: by NancyJ (new) - added it

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 4887 comments Joy, this is a beautiful review! I want to read this too. This sounds like something my whole family would like. If there's a movie, it would be great for Thanksgiving when I (hope) I will have a houseful.

BnB - I know from another book that elephants grieve deeply for their young. Tell us more.


message 6: by Joy D (last edited Sep 13, 2019 07:52PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy D | 3068 comments Booknblues wrote: "I loved this book as well. Have you heard about the elephants reaction to his passing?"
Yes, I read during my research that they (view spoiler) I put it in spoilers since there is another book written by his wife that covers what happened.


Joy D | 3068 comments Joanne wrote: "Another add-on to that Towering Turret of mine....I know I will enjoy this one!"
I'll look forward to your thoughts when you get a chance to read it.


Joy D | 3068 comments Book Concierge wrote: "Well said, Joy. I also loved this book."
Thanks, Book Concierge, glad you loved it too!


Joy D | 3068 comments NancyJ wrote: "Joy, this is a beautiful review! I want to read this too. This sounds like something my whole family would like. If there's a movie, it would be great for Thanksgiving when I (hope) I will have a h..."
Thanks, NancyJ. I have not heard of a movie, but I'm not a movie person. I know you can find a few videos on YouTube. The reserve has a facebook page and an online blog.


message 10: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7112 comments Joy D wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "Joy, this is a beautiful review! I want to read this too. This sounds like something my whole family would like. If there's a movie, it would be great for Thanksgiving when I (hope) ..."

Another mark on the "how Joy and I are a like"! Movies are not mine thing-however, something like this, in docu form, I probably would watch.


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