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King Leopold’s Dream
Travels in the Shadow of the African Elephant
by Jeremy Gavron
- Release date: June 1, 1993
- Publisher: Pantheon
- Language: english
- Author: Jeremy Gavron
- Format: hardcover, 288 pages
- ISBN: 9780679419983 (0679419985)
About The Book
On the trail of the African elephant, Jeremy Gavron has woven an extraordinary tale that is at once an adventure, a philosophical inquiry, and a haunting, evocative portrait of Africa. The elephant his explorations reveal is an intensely social being, loyal to its own kind, often traumatized by the disruption of its herd, and even able, according to some experts, to understand its own predicament: the deadly value of its magnificent tusks. For Gavron, the elephant’s fight for survival is also a powerful metaphor for the broader battle of the old Africa to survive in the modern Africa of Coca-Cola, automatic weapons, and dictators with Swiss bank accounts. In his travels, Gavron has illuminating and sometimes comic encounters with most of the leading elephant experts in Africa, as well as with notorious poachers, ivory smugglers, and famous elephants themselves. Along the way he also explores other paths and listens to other voices, from forest Pygmies to wealthy hunters on safari, from mud-hut talk to the silent message of the ruined palace of an African Ozymandias. «Africa does not readily yield its heart, its secrets,» Gavron learned in his years as a correspondent in Africa. «It must be approached indirectly, from aslant.» This is the approach Gavron takes through his choice of haunting, resonant subjects, from the last elephant in Burundi and the history of the primeval gomphothere to the dream of a nineteenth-century king — once a grandiose colonial fantasy, but now the germ of an idea that may point the way forward for both the African elephant and the wondrous, beleaguered continent in which it lives.
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