Really Great Bookends – Part I

February 25, 2012 Nature, non-fiction 7

This week I have read two really great books, one non-fiction and one fiction, and I felt like they both deserved their own post.  So today, I’ll be posting my review of my non-fiction book and you can check back tomorrow for my fiction read. (Update: now available here)

Non-Project Non-Fiction

This morning, I finished reading The Eye of the Elephant, one of the extra books I picked up in the 639’s.  Although I occasionally think about the fact that I could be doing this until I die if I pick up multiple books for every number, I don’t think that would be so bad, especially if my digressions always lead to such great books!  As the subtitle says, this was truly “An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness.”  This story of Mark and Delia Owens’ efforts to save the elephants and other wildlife in a Zambian natural park was without a dull moment.  In the first few chapters, Mark had gotten lost in the dessert and both authors had encountered a cobra and a pride of lions.  The book continues with awe-inspiring encounters with wildlife and more frightening encounters with poachers.

Despite the action-packed nature of the book, both authors found time to describe the natural beauty and majestic animals surrounding them.  Their love for nature made these poetic descriptions incredibly moving.  Each chapter in the book was written by either Mark or Delia and I suspect their editor deserves a ton of credit because their distinct personalities come through without ever disrupting the flow of their narrative.

Even though the point of a book like this is to raise awareness of a problem, I really appreciated that they wrote the book at a point where most parts of the story have a happy ending.  While it’s definitely important to alert people to the plight of endangered animals, you get too close to specific animals they describe to deal well with an unhappy ending.  The struggle they face with corrupt officials is also incredibly frustrating, so it was nice to see that things were moving in the right direction at the end of the book.

Alison at The Cheap Reader was just discussing the pros and cons of having a happy ending, and I mostly thought about this in terms of YA books, where I favor happy endings because I like to feel happy after reading a book.  In the case of a book like this, I was still glad of a happy ending, but for a different reason.  I hate for a book discussing a big problem I care about to end unresolved because I don’t feel like I can do anything about it.  Unlike A Spring Without Bees which discusses a problem everyone can contribute to from their own bee-friendly, pesticide-free garden, poaching is not a problem I feel equipped to deal with.  But I think part of the message of this book is that that’s not true – it is possible for very few people to have a huge impact.  In that spirit, I’ve donated to The Owens Foundation already, to do my little bit for conservation, and I hope you’ll consider doing the same for them or for any other cause you care deeply about.  Even as poor college students, we can spare a little 🙂

Summary

The Eye of the Elephant  – 5 stars – Great, action packed story with a positive message about conservation and the difference a few people can make.

7 Responses to “Really Great Bookends – Part I”

  1. Pam

    This review was great. I agree with you that there’s nothing worse than investing time and emotion into a book and then having it end with no resolution or hope for the future. It’s so great that this book inspired you to donate to a fund to contribute to a happier ending. U love it!

  2. Margie

    I just finished reading “Cry of the Kalahari” and wanted to know more about the Owens…..what they’re been doing since leaving Deception Valley. The internet is wonderful in providing so much information (I found out everything wanted to know)! I can’t wait to read “Eye of the Elephant”! Mark & Delia, you are a remarkable couple and I thank you for respecting, nurturing, loving this Earth and all it’s plants, animals, and people. You’ve taught me a lot. Margie

    • DoingDewey

      I thought they sounded incredibly impressive too! It’s great you were inspired to go out and learn more about them. Definitely the sign of a good book!