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The Year of the Gorilla by George B.…

The Year of the Gorilla

by George B. Schaller

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Schaller's work with gorilla's was ground breaking in the late 1950's. Although well known in zoos at the time, very little was known of their life in the wild. Schaller set out, at much the same time as Jane Goodall, to observe these primates living their private lives, unaffected by man.

Schaller's background was in zoology and anthropology, and his narrative starts with a certain dryness and clinical air to it. You admire his thorough preparations and absorb facts and figures, and a great deal of debunking of myth and misinformation about gorilla's. I struggled with the book here, but then as he finally arrives at the Ruwenzori you begin to wonder at his obstinate dedication to his search; days and weeks tracking but not seeing the reclusive creatures in the dense forest. And then that extraordinary moment when man and ape catch sight of each other. Schaller describes that moment, and all the ones that follow with a kind of lyricism that carries the reader effortlessly along after such a slow start.

The science is still there, but now you have the rounded picture, that research is sometimes painstakingly slow, but there are magical moments when plans come together, and when expectations are overthrown. Schaller's fortitude is almost numbing, no one has perhaps written more tellingly of the feeling of sitting motionless in the rain for hours while he continues his observations. Schaller makes me want to read Fossey, his successor in the mountains. I had avoided her for a long time, wary of the romanticism (and tragedy) that surrounded her. But 'The Year of the Gorilla' makes me want to know more about these creatures, and about what they can teach us about ourselves, and in that sense Schaller continues to succeed at what he set about to do; introduce us to ourselves. Highly recommended. ( )
  nandadevi | Jun 26, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226736385, Paperback)

This seminal work chronicles George B. Schaller’s two years of travel and observation of gorillas in East and Central Africa in the late 1950s, high in the Virunga volcanoes on the Zaire-Rwanda-Uganda border. There, he learned that these majestic animals, far from being the aggressive apes of film and fiction, form close-knit societies of caring mothers and protective fathers watching over playful young. Alongside his observations of gorilla society, Schaller celebrates the enforced yet splendid solitude of the naturalist, recounts the adventures he experienced along the way, and offers a warning against poaching and other human threats against these endangered creatures. This edition features a postscript detailing Schaller’s more recent visits with gorillas, current to 2009. 

“Whether the author is tracking gorillas, slipping past elephant herds on narrow jungle paths, avoiding poachers’ deadfalls, or routing Watusi invaders, this is an exciting book. Although Schaller feels that this is ‘not an adventure book,’ few readers will be able to agree.”—Irven DeVore, Science

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:38 -0400)

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& Quot;A sensitive and articulate observer, [Schaller] is at his best when he is describing the forest itself ... This is an exciting book. Although Schaller feels that this is 'not an adventure book, ' few readers will be able to agree."--Irven DeVore, Science.… (more)

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