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Gavin Maxwell: A Life by Douglas Botting

Gavin Maxwell: A Life

by Douglas Botting

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Douglas Botting is an excellent biographer, helped by the fact that he was a close friend of Maxwells'. His early life growing up in the Scottish highlands and his WW2 SAS service & later shark hunting ventures prove him to be a talented and formidable force. A shame Maxwell's estate put a block on some parts of Maxwell's life. eg. his homosexuality and bipolar disorder were only marginally mentioned; which gives a rather lopsided view of his relationships, namely those of Kathleen Rain and his wife Lavinia figure more predominately and of his relationships with animals and conservation. The omission of details of his homosexuality and biopolar condition make it hard to understand the man in some ways, but in other ways only add to the sense than Gavin Maxwell did not fit into the world and was essentially an outsider. Maxwell by all accounts was a remarkable man & writer though sadly feted with disaster after disaster (some of his own making). His adventures in the middle east and Morocco are well covered and also his lifelong love of nature & efforts to create a conservation zoo on one of the Scottish isles that he purchased. It was because of Maxwell's efforts that throughout the world otters have been since studied & protected in the wild. His book 'Ring of Bright Water'/& sequel and subsequent film stirred the general public to look at the countryside around them and create a greater interest in ecology. His poetry is quoted throughout and there are many obscure facts that delight. It was Maxwell who spurred the young Richard Branson (Virgin airlines etc) on to leave school and create his own business. Maxwell's fairly sudden death at age 55 of cancer is described and has the effect of making one think twice before downing another scotch and a cigarette.

This edition contains a great many photographs. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
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