Tag Archives: Biographies

Anna: A Teenager on the Run by Anna Podgajecki

Overview
Anna: A Teenager on the Run by Anna Podgajecki

Title: Anna: A Teenager on the Run
Author: Anna Podgajecki
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Memoirs, War
Dates read: 2nd February – 23rd April 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Publisher: Amberly Publishing
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: The unfinished building had two giant windows facing the yard where the murderers were standing, but above me there was an attic.

Synopsis

Part of a new Holocaust remembrance series of important testimonies and memoirs from the unique collections of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre.

Anna Podgajecki was born in Korzec, on the Polish–Russian border. As life for the Jews became steadily worse, Anna’s parents insisted that she, the oldest of their seven children, try to escape, survive and report to the world on the atrocities that were taking place.

For three years Anna lived in constant fear of discovery. She wandered from place to place and found work as a translator, a housekeeper and finally a nurse on the Russian front. Through luck, good timing, personal charm, a talent for languages and her special beauty, she was able to avoid death.

Anna’s reflections on her escape and survival are both remarkable and touching, arousing our curiosity about the human instinct to survive, despite all odds.

Thoughts

This novel is fucking brutal and heartbreaking. In a way that I can’t even begin to describe. It is just…. Wow. Not for the faint of heart. And even difficult for people with a strong spine. It took me forever to get through because I could honestly read a maximum of three chapters in one hit before I started getting dragged into a really dark place. Which, honestly, is kind of exactly what this story should be doing. After all, it’s about the holocaust.

I’ve read a few stories about World War II and the holocaust. And even accounts of other wars. But this is most definitely the most brutal I’ve read. Other stories offer an almost sense of hope, and you can see where certain aspects of the tale are kind of glossed over. That is not the case with Anna’s writing (I can’t even use her last name like I do with many other reviews because of the honesty). Anna takes you right into the heart of her heartbreak and horror. And she leaves no stone unturned. There is zero glossing over and nothing, and I mean nothing, is hidden.

This tale doesn’t just talk about what Anna experienced to survive as a Jew in WWII, but it also talks of the aftermath. After all, even though the war was over and occupation ended, there were (and still are) many scars and divisions that were left behind. It took her a long time to be able to feel safe even admitting that she was a Jew – even though technically she could.

Even writing this review, I can feel that uncomfortable swelling in my chest that was my companion throughout this whole story. Reading a war memoir should never be comfortable. But the horrors that are recounted in this writing… I just don’t have the words.

<- UnmaskedGogo Mama ->

Image source: Goodreads

Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipovic

Overview
Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipovic - Penguin Books Australia

Title: Zlata’s Diary
Author: Zlata Filipovic
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Memoirs, War
Dates read: 25th – 26th March 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year: 1993
5th sentence, 74th page: We don’t think about the shelling or the war.

Synopsis

I’m trying to concentrate so that I can do my homework (reading) but I simply can’t. Something is going on in town. You can hear gunffire from the hills!

This entry in Zlata’s diary in April 1992 shows how the war draws relentlessly closer to her hom ein Sarajevo. When she starts her diary, Zlata tells of her normal, happy life with her family and friends. But soon they are fighting to survive. Zlata’s very personal accoutn is a vivid portrait of an innocent child caughht up in a terrible war.

Thoughts

I put this book on my wish list because it was a book read by the Freedom Writers. I knew absolutely nothing about Sarajevo or Bosnia or the war that was occurring literally on the day that I was born. And although I still don’t know much at all about the politics of the situation and all the ins and outs. Reading about a child’s thoughts during war… terrifying.

After having read The Diary of Anne Frank, it is terrifying to read yet another tragic story. Although, admittedly, there was a much happier ending to this tale. The innocence of Zlata just shines out of the pages, and the terror and confusion that she felt… it is an incredibly uncomfortable read this novel. One that I would suggest for everyone. But still incredibly informative.

I had to read this novel in small bites – it is incredibly heart wrenching and horrifying. It is also kind of hopeful. A great reminder of the power of the human spirit. The part that I loved the most about this was the power of the human spirit. And the ways in which all of Zlata’s family and neighbourhood banded together to support one another. It’s not the kind of thing that can always be hoped for, and it is a reminder that people can survive anything.

Zlata’s diary is a powerful and wonderful read. It is definitely not a feel good story or one that I necessarily felt the need or desire to read before bedtime, but it was definitely one that I will go back to in the future. And I would most definitely recommend it to others.

<- The Happiest RefugeeThe Diary of a Young Girl ->

Image source: Puffin Books Australia

Lucky Child by Loung Ung

Overview
BOOKS - Loung Ung

Title: Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind
Author: Loung Ung
Series: Daughter of Cambodia #2
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, History, Memoirs, War
Dates read: 27th February – 13th March 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Year: 2000
5th sentence, 74th page: While they chatter away about the farm and the weather, Cou slowly fold Khouy’s clothes and lays them on the plank.

Synopsis

The author of the critically acclaimed bestseller First They Killed My Father returns with a searing and redemptive story of life in America as a Cambodian genocide survivor.

After enduring years of hunger, deprivation, and devastating loss at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, ten-year-old Loung Ung became the “lucky child,” the sibling chosen to accompany her eldest brother to America while her one surviving sister and two brothers remained behind. In this poignant and elegiac memoir, Loung recalls her assimilation into an unfamiliar new culture while struggling to overcome dogged memories of violence and the deep scars of war. In alternating chapters, she gives voice to Chou, the beloved older sister whose life in war-torn Cambodia so easily could have been hers. Highlighting the harsh realities of chance and circumstance in times of war as well as in times of peace, Lucky Child is ultimately a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and to the salvaging strength of family bonds.

Thoughts

This is just as hard hitting as the first Ung book, First They Killed My Father. It is dark, twisted and definitely the type of book that you need to read only in certain moods. But it is also important, poignant, and brilliantly written. I loved every moment of reading this. Even if it wasn’t the type of book that I wanted to read each and every day.

The entire time I read this memoir, my heart honestly ached. It is an incredibly tragic tale. One that, even though Loung gets out of Cambodia young, continues on. She manages to write about her PTSD and the difficulties of adapting to a foreign country in a way that is a little heartwrenching, incredibly realistic, but still not so overwhelming that you can’t stomach the idea of reading the story. It’s a fine line to walk when retelling tales of war and PTSD, but Ung manages to do so in a relatable and approachable way. Now I can’t wait to read the final book in this trilogy!

My sister is my favourite person in the world. She is my best friend, confidant and the person that honestly understands me more than anyone else. It is obvious from the way that she writes that Ung feels very much the same. Which probably is what made this story so hard for me to read – Loung and Chou are separated for fifteen years in a time that would have been crucial to both of them in their social and physical growth. It is definitely a little heart wrenching. But I love that there is this constant reminder that sisters are forever. That no matter the time that passed, they were still sisters and still loved each other dearly.

This is a great way to tell the story of two sisters – you journey alongside both Loung and Chou to find out what their lives were like after the war and the genocide. It helps to show how different twists of fate can make two lies. And how intensely the past can affect our every day lives. It is one of those stories that will stick with me forever and I will probably reread this multiple times in the future.

<- First They Killed My FatherLulu in the Sky ->

Image source: Loung Ung

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Overview
I am Malala, The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the  Taliban by Malala Yousafzai | 9781780226583 | Booktopia

Title: I Am Malala
Author: Malala Yousafzai
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Feminism, Memoirs, Strong women
Dates read: 11th – 16th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: But all this time the mufti was watching.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

I come from a country that was created at midnight When I almost died it was just after midday. When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan. One girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday October 9 2012 when she was fifteen. She almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school and few expected her to survive. Instead. Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel…

Thoughts

There are just some people in the world who seem to make me feel bad for the many, many things that I don’t do. It’s not necessarily a bad thing… just a, well… thing. That feeling of guilt that accompanies the reminder that there are some seriously bad arse, tough, amazing women out in the world. And Malala Yousafzai is most certainly one of them. That’s not to say that reading I Am Malala made me feel guilty or horrible, but it served as a reminder of the awesomeness of this young woman.

The journey that Malala takes is just phenomenal. And I can’t really describe that feeling of this is really awesome that you will get whilst reading this. Not just because of what Malala has accomplished, but also the family that she’s from and her love of her people and country. Every single word in this novel speaks of humility and love. And it makes this just… phenomenal. And one of those books that is impossible to forget.

I love that this book, even though it is about Malala’s journey, is really mostly about her family. Almost every sentence is about them. And, in particular, her father. It shows you that people who create great change don’t actually do this on their own… they have a family and people around them that help them accomplish everything and anything that they put their mind to. And for Malala, that driving factor is her father. And, considering the culture in which they both come from… that is somehow all that much more phenomenal.

This is one of those books that I think everyone needs to read. It is phenomenal and powerful. Unforgettable and a seriously intense and glorious journey. This is just one of those novels and lives that I will remember anytime I’m feeling negative, pessimistic or like a downright bore.

<- Falling LeavesMao’s Last Dancer ->

Image source: Booktopia

Truganini by Cassandra Pybus

Overview
Truganini - Cassandra Pybus - 9781760529222 - Allen & Unwin ...

Title: Truganini: Journey Through the Apocalypse
Author: Cassandra Pybus
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Biographies, History, Indigenous Australians
Dates read: 2nd – 20th July 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: She was grieving the loss of their youngest son nine months earlier, and it was also time to reconnect with his five surviving children.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Cassandra Pybus’ ancestors told a story of an old Aboriginal woman who would wander across their farm on Bruny Island, just off the coast of south-east Tasmania, throughout the 1850s and 1860s. As a child, Cassandra didn’t know this woman was Truganini, and that she was walking over the country of her clan, the Nuenonne, of whom she was the last.

The name of Truganini is vaguely familiar to most Australians as ‘the last of her race’. She has become an international icon for a monumental tragedy: the extinction of the original people of Tasmania within her lifetime. For nearly seven decades she lived through a psychological and cultural shift more extreme than most human imaginations could conjure. She is a hugely significant figure in Australian history and we should know about how she lived, not simply that she died. Her life was much more than a regrettable tragedy. Now Cassandra has examined the original eyewitness accounts to write Truganini’s extraordinary story.

A lively, intelligent, sensual woman, Truganini managed to survive the devastating decade of the 1820s when the clans of south-eastern Tasmania were all but extinguished. Taken away from Bruny Island in 1830, she spent five years on a journey around Tasmania, across rugged highland and through barely penetrable forests, with the self-styled missionary George Augustus Robinson, who was collecting all the surviving people to send them into exile on Flinders Island. She managed to avoid a long incarceration on Flinders Island when Robinson took her to Victoria where she was implicated in the murder of two white men. Acquitted of murder, she was returned to Tasmania where she lived for another thirty-five years. Her story is both inspiring and herat-wrenching, and it is told in full in this book for the first time.

Thoughts

This was an amazing, must-read for all Aussies. It was one though that I would read a chapter and then pick up another, happier book. There is this tragic feeling that runs all the way through. There aren’t happy moments. This doesn’t give you hope for the future. Instead, it reminds you of the many atrocities which we really should be condemned for… but it’s well-worth the read. And impossible to forget.

The whole journey in this book is somewhat heartbreaking. But the very end of it… that was just a whole other level. Particularly considering Truganini feared her body being taken for science and begged someone to bury it in the deepest water she knew… only to find out that when she passed… her body was taken and mounted in a museum. I just couldn’t believe the horror of that and the cruelty. There was just something so incomprehensible and… just… no… about the whole situation.

I’m always trying to find out as much as I can about Australian history. And for me, this was a fantastic piece of that. I knew next to nothing about the plight of Indigenous Australians in Tasmania when the settlers came. Although I still feel like I know next to nothing… I felt like there was so much more that was revealed in this novel. Alright, it probably wasn’t’ my favourite biography, Pybus has a slightly drier writing style than what I prefer. But overall, it was somewhat amazing and a great way to highlight the plight and true journey of one well-known Indigenous Australian.

I received this book at the beginning of the year. And my biggest regret? That I didn’t read it sooner. This is a book that I think all Australians should read. One that is amazing and impossible to forget. Definitely at the top of my suggestions pile…

<- More Indigenous Australians reviewsMore Australian author reviews ->

Image source: Allen & Unwin

First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung

Overview
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by ...

Title: First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
Author: Loung Ung
Series: Daughter of Cambodia #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, History, Memoirs, War
Dates read: 3rd – 8th April 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing
Year: 2000
5th sentence, 74th page: Geak continues to cry.

Synopsis

Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights and being cheeky to her parents.

When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Loung’s family fled their home and were eventually forced to disperse in order to survive. Loung was trained as a child soldier while her brothers and sisters were sent to labour camps. The surviving children were only finally reunited after the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia and destroyed the Khmer Rouge. First They Killed My Father is an unforgettable book, told through the voice of the young and fearless Loung. It is a shocking and tragic tale of a girl who was determined to survive despite the odds.

Thoughts

I bought this so that I would have an author whose names started with U. I had no idea what to expect and basically no knowledge of anything to do with Cambodia, refugees and the war in the 1970s. I mean, honestly, nothing. I didn’t even know that Pol Pot was associated with all of this… even though I know the name and that he’s a bad man. So this entire journey was one of discovery and just… awe. Nothing more than total and utter awe.

Until recently, I thought that I was a person made of some incredibly strong stuff. Tough, independent and of the ability to survive an untold number of things in my life. This story (amongst others that I’ve been reading) made me realise that I’m probably not made of this kind of tough stuff. What Ung and her family went through is just completely unfathomable. It is intense, and horrifying and more than a little heartbreaking. Yet, there isn’t this sense of anger throughout the words. Which took me completely by surprise. After all, the horrors that Ung witnessed and survived as a young girl… I just don’t have the words.

Normally I like to read a biography before bed time. After all, they’re not as intense and fast-paced as many of my other novels. So they’re normally a good pick for right before bed time. This really didn’t fit that trend. The first few nights of reading this, I just read a chapter a night. But on the final night? I read all of it. In one hit. Because I just had to find out how Ung survived… and if any of her family were also able to survive.

I just don’t have the words for how amazing this novel is. It’s something that I think everyone should read. That way we don’t take our lives and livelihoods for granted so much. Or at least, that’s how this amazing journey made me feel. I can’t wait to read the next two books in this series!

<- More Loung UngLucky Child ->

Image source: Goodreads

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Overview
Image result for long walk to freedom book cover

Title: Long Walk to Freedom
Author: Nelson Mandela
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, PoliticsRace
Dates read: 1st – 21st February 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Abacus
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: Your father’s letter mentions nothing about a brother.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

The riveting memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time, Long Walk to Freedom brilliantly re-creates the drama of the experiences that helped shape Nelson Mandela’s destiny. Emotive, compelling and uplifting, Long Walk to Freedom is the exhilarating story of an epic life; a story of hardship, resilience and ultimate triumph told with the clarity and eloquence of a born leader.

Thoughts

I was actually a little disappointed by this. I’m absolutely fascinated by Nelson Mandela, and I looked forward to finding out a little bit more about the man behind the power and story. I didn’t really get much of that from this story. To me, it was mostly about politics, not actually about the journey and the story of the man. Not exactly my cup of tea.

Don’t get me wrong, this entire thing was very well written. And gave fantastic insight into the challenges faced in South Africa. The political landscape, the segregation, the ways in which Mandela’s Xhosa ancestry and life was structured. Everything was so beautifully detailed and told. But I wanted to know about the people that the man loved. The people that he cared about. The emotions. You just don’t get that in this story.

Alright, I know that Mandela was a politician, so I expected this to be mostly about politics. And law. And human rights. What I didn’t expect was it to just be about this. And that’s where I was a little disappointed. Whenever someone influential is mentioned, their characteristics aren’t discussed. It’s their political acumen and knowledge that is described. I wanted to know much more about the person behind this.

This is an interesting read, and one that I would suggest to others in the future. However, it’s not really my favourite read. I got through it all because the writing was really good, but it took me a lot longer than I had expected because I just couldn’t quite sink my teeth into it…

 <- The Blind Side ReviewCobain Review ->

Image source: Brotherhood Books

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

Overview
Image result for book cover the autobiography of malcolm x"

Title: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Author: Malcolm X
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Politics, Race
Dates read: 3rd – 27th January 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year: 1965
5th sentence, 74th page: Sophia could get away only a few nights a week.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

One of Time’s ten most important nonfiction books of the twentieth century

In the saring pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement. His fascinating perspective on the lies and limitations of the American Dream, and the inherent racism in a society that denies its nonwhite citizens the opportunity to dream, gives extraordinary insight into the most urgent issues of our own time. The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America.

Thoughts

This is probably the single most intense book that I’ve ever read. Like I just sat there in shock not just after I finished it, but at multiple points throughout. It is intense, confronting and impossible to put down. It will also make you feel ridiculously uncomfortable. But I would still recommend that everyone read it. Even, if, like me, you’re not an American. And I’ve been talking the ear off of my poor family and friends telling them about how amazing this biography actually is.

I’ve been really interested in stories about race and discrimination, particularly over the past year. I desperately want to broaden my knowledge of this topic, and I’m slowly doing so. Actually, the past two years I’ve just been obsessed with memoirs and biographies, so this kind of falls under the topic. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is the most angry biography I’ve ever read. And I don’t say that in a bad way. It is unapologetically honest, completely forthright and doesn’t politely sugar coat the atrocities that the black man in America has had to face. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the language and words used made me feel seriously uncomfortable, but I kind of think that that’s the point… where would we be if everyone just wrote something that would make others feel comfortable?

I’m not overly interested in the politics of America, I try to focus a little more on our own home politics here… however, it is good to get a brief understanding. After all, we are still tied to them. This book gave me a far more in depth insight into these politics than I was expecting. I’m glad that I’ve read a few other books before this which touch upon the subject, and even watched some movies. Because this was seriously confronting. And it made me stop and think repeatedly about our own Indigenous peoples who are constantly facing similar issues of racism.

This is a life changing book. It is one that I will constantly think about and has seriously made me sit back and think. I’m completely floored by the experiences that Malcolm outlines in his book. And, since it is written from his own words and not sugar coated, somehow, everything that I was vaguely aware of is far more real and intense. I had to reach for a happy, innocent book when this was finished…

 <- The Jane Austen Writers’ Club ReviewChinese Cinderella Review ->

Image source: Amazon

Born to Run by Cathy Freeman

Overview
Image result for book cover born to run cathy freeman

Title: Born to Run
Author: Cathy Freeman
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian authorsBiographies, Indigenous Australians, Inspiration, Sport
Dates read: 20th – 22nd November 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: We pressed them together to signify that we were blood brother and sister forever.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Hi guys,

Ever since I was little I only had one dream – to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

When I was twenty-seven years old, my dream came true. I’ll never forget that night at the Sydney 2000 Games – as I crossed the finish line, it was as if the whole of Australia was cheering for me.

Sometimes I still wonder how it happened. When I was growing up, I felt no different to anyone else. I lvoed having fun with my brothers, sleeping over at Nanna’s and going horse riding with my dad. But I especially loved to run. With the help of my family, coaches and teachers, I became the best female 400-metre runner in the world.

I hope you enjoy my story, and that it inspires you to chase after your dreams, too!

❤ Cathy

Thoughts

I remember watching the Sydney 2000 Olympics as a kid. Remember watching Cathy Freeman light the torch, remember when she won her golds. Although I didn’t understand what the “big fuss” was, I did feel that same national pride as everyone else. What I had never realised was that she wrote a biography seven years later. I only discovered this because I happened to be looking for a book written by a female athlete. And I’m really glad that I did…

This is one of the easiest biographies I think I’ve ever read. It is open, honest and fun. there isn’t a lot of detail throughout the pages, but rather, an outlining of each piece of information as you progress through the years of her life. And it was a far more interesting journey than I was kind of imagining. Freeman not only talks about her love of running and freedom, but she also discusses her thankfulness for her family and the support that she’s received.

Not only is this an inspiring story – it’s also one that is very much about family. There is not a chapter in the novel that doesn’t mention her mother and step-father, father and siblings. Anne-Marie her deceased sister is specifically talked about throughout. It’s not just about the journey and the hard work that Cathy Freeman had to put in to her passions to get to the Olympics. It’s also about the fun, the family and the journey. Something that I can’t forget and will definitely flick through again when I need a reminder that YOU CAN DO THIS!

My biggest regret with this story is the fact that I didn’t know about it until recently. This would have been a phenomenal book to read when I was younger. This is a good insight into a very well known Indigenous Australian and some of the hurdles that she had to overcome because of Australia’s racism.

 <- The Diary of a Young Girl ReviewAn Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth Review ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia

The Last Rhinos by Lawrence Anthony

Overview
Image result for the last rhinos book cover

Title: The Last Rhinos
Author: Lawrence Anthony
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Conservation, Non-fiction
Dates read: 16th June – 26th September 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: PAN
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: In some areas all you could see were the splintered stumps of once-massive jungle trees.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Lawrence Anthony has been described as ‘the Indiana Jones of conservation’. His South African game reserve is home to many animals he has saved, from a remarkable herd of elephants to a badly behaved bushbaby called George. When he learned that there was only a handful of northern white rhinos left in the wild, living in an area of the Congo controlled by the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army, he was determined to save them from extinction.

What followed was an extraordinary adventure, as Lawrence headed into the jungle to ask the rebels to help protect the rhino. He was also battling to keep his own animals alive during a terrible drought and to save the eyesight of his elephant matriarch Nana. The Last Rhinos is peopled with unforgettable characters, both human and animal, and is a sometimes funny, sometimes moving, always exciting read.

Thoughts

I haven’t read this book for a while. But lately, I’ve needed the inspiration and the motivation to remind me what it is about conservation that I’m passionate about. There is just something about Lawrence Anthony’s adventures and dedication that are completely awe inspiring. Unforgettable and smakes you realise that you are just a small dot in the fabric of the world. Which sounds horrible, but I kind of love… it’s nice to know that your decisions and life isn’t going to change the fate of the world, and that you are something small in a greater reality.

I would do a lot to save animals and take care of the environment… but I really don’t know that I would take on one of the most dangerous and infamous armies in the modern world – the LRA. The intensity of Lawrence’s relationships with these men and his part in their attempts at brokering peace are overwhelming, awe-inspiring and a great read late at night. After all, very few people would have the confidence and gumption to actually do such a thing to take care of another species…

The Last Rhinos is a bit slow to begin with. It discusses a lot of politics, difficulties and barriers to the conservation agenda. Money, politics and bureaucracy are always getting in the way, it doesn’t matter which aspect of life we’re dealing with. But when these barriers occur against an innocent rhino, it’s incredibly frustrating. Which comes through amazingly in this novel. We should all start finding a way to unite and stop arguing against the minutiae… otherwise we will lose all of our beautiful wildlife… the Last Rhinos just being a warning for future Armageddon.

Not only do Anthony’s words carry a potency that many other conservation tales don’t. primarily because his raw honesty and inability to hear the word no… but his little anecdotes about life on Zula Zula fill the gaps. They bring to life a reality in South Africa would otherwise be completely removed from our reality. This is a must have novel for anybody who loves nature, the environment and a damn good story.

 <- The Elephant Whisperer ReviewLife on Air Review ->
Image source: Amazon