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Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer,…

Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and… (edition 2013)

by Monte Reel

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Title:Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure that Took the Victorian World by Storm
Authors:Monte Reel
Info:Doubleday (2013), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:non fiction, adventure, explorers

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Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure that Took the Victorian World by Storm by Monte Reel


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First, a note: I received a galley of this book from the publisher. An engaging, well-crafted nonfiction account of an explorer who has been largely lost to history (at least popular history). This is pitched as a book that David Grann's fans would appreciate, and as a fan of David Grann, I was riveted. Reel is clearly a writer who understands that a great narrative, with tension, conflict, and uncertain outcomes, can propel a reader through material (like a great adventure story) and I think he's done an admirable job of doing this here. But this is popular history--anyone looking for a discussion about why the discovery of the gorilla threw the evolution conversation into disarray won't find much depth here, and given the subtitle, I was a little disappointed in that. But Reel has rehabilitated Du Chaillu's reputation, given the reader a glimpse into the rarefied world of the uniquely British hierarchy of science and science minds, made historical figures come alive, and ended with an exceptionally poignant image. ( )
  bookofmoons | Sep 1, 2016 |
This book has a lively style, and is written in short chapters. It fails on the front of promising to delve into the evolution controversies of the 19th century in some depths, and then doesn't. But as a narrative of the life of Paul Chaillu, the explorer of Gabon, and the discoverer of the Gorilla, it does an adequate job. It also has short bios of many of the figures of the evolution struggle, but not much depth on them. It does give an example of the general shape of academic conflicts, so has some value there. I'd call it good summer reading. the picture are adequate, and there could have been better maps.
Du Chaillu provided sensationalist fiction with two stereotypes, The Great White Hunter and the Crazy Scientist. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jun 17, 2015 |
An unknown story (to me) of a Victorian African explorer (Paul Du Chaillu) who seems to have been missed after Livingston, Stanley, Speke, Burton, et al. It fuses the Victorian ideal of the civilized explorer with the resulting changes in thoughtt/philosophy fro the additional scientific knowledge that these great explorations brought back to Europe. This book focuses on the discovery and capture of the great gorilla, its display in Europe and America, and the debate that it brought between Darwin and his detractors. A well written, poignant story of a man who rose to great heights and then fell back to earth. ( )
  cyclops1771 | Nov 11, 2014 |
It seems difficult at times to appreciate how slowly knowledge grew and was shared prior to the 20th century. Africa, "The Dark Continent", remained mysterious to the enlightened Western mind,and largely unexplored well into the 19th century. When the opportunity to gain understanding did appear, prejudice, arrogance, and ignorance arose quickly to put out the light. While there was much I found interesting, it fell short of capturing the imagination or suspense of what each new discovery would bring. Likewise, the perspective and impact the explorer's work has on the arguments that rage on to this day, especially evolution, was disappointing. ( )
  lanewillson | Feb 21, 2014 |
In 1856, Paul Du Chaillu ventured into the African jungle in search of a mythic beast, the gorilla. After wild encounters with vicious cannibals, deadly snakes, and tribal kings, Du Chaillu emerged with 20 preserved gorilla skins—two of which were stuffed and brought on tour—and walked smack dab into the biggest scientific debate of the time: Darwin's theory of evolution. Quickly, Du Chaillu's trophies went from objects of wonder to key pieces in an all-out intellectual war. With a wide range of characters, including Abraham Lincoln, Arthur Conan Doyle, P.T Barnum, Thackeray, and of course, Charles Darwin, this is a one of a kind book about a singular moment in history. ( )
  MarkBeronte | Jan 8, 2014 |
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(Prologue) He'd been hunting in the forest's depths for months, but he'd never known such silence.
Late in 1846, near the end of the rainy season, a group of men reached the Atlantic coast of Africa after weeks of slogging through the waterlogged interior.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385534221, Hardcover)

The unbelievably riveting adventure of an unlikely young explorer who emerged from the jungles of Africa with evidence of a mysterious, still mythical beast—the gorilla—only to stumble straight into the center of the biggest debate of the day: Darwin's theory of evolution

In 1856 Paul Du Chaillu marched into the equatorial wilderness of West Africa determined to bag an animal that, according to legend, was nothing short of a monster. When he emerged three years later, the summation of his efforts only hinted at what he'd experienced in one of the most dangerous regions on earth. Armed with an astonishing collection of zoological specimens, Du Chaillu leapt from the physical challenges of the jungle straight into the center of the biggest issues of the time—the evolution debate, racial discourse, the growth of Christian fundamentalism—and helped push each to unprecedented intensities. He experienced instant celebrity, but with that fame came whispers—about his past, his credibility, and his very identity—which would haunt the young man. Grand in scope, immediate in detail, and propulsively readable, Between Man and Beast brilliantly combines Du Chaillu's personal journey with the epic tale of a world hovering on the sharp edge of transformation.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:24 -0400)

Documents the story of mid-19th-century explorer Paul Du Chaillu, who after three years in the equatorial wilderness of West Africa emerged with definitive proof of the existence of the mythical gorilla, only to be swept up by the heated debate about Darwin's theory of evolution.… (more)

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