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Born Free (1960)

by Joy Adamson

Series: Free Series (1)

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1,0092114,518 (3.95)50
A woman describes her experiences raising an orphaned lion cub intending that it eventually return to the jungle.

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English (18)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (20)
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I probably read this book dozens of times as a child, sitting quietly in an upstairs bedroom in my grandparents' house. A must read for any nature lover. ( )
  lclclauren | Sep 12, 2020 |
Published in 1960, Born Free remains an appealing account of how something wild can get into one’s heart. The more than 100 photos are a great help, forming a visual record of the efforts of author Joy Adamson and her husband George to raise a lion cub named Elsa. Elsa’s cubhood is a delight. It was followed by hard work that began when Elsa neared maturity and the Adamsons endeavored to return her to a wild life. The novelties of the experiences they had and the results of Elsa’s education in this radically different life never fail to interest.

Joy and George are awed by Elsa throughout and Joy’s book expresses great love for this lioness and also for the East African countryside in which she and her husband lived and traveled. George comments, “I really have no patience with people who maintain that an animal’s life and actions are governed by pure instinct and conditioned reflexes. Nothing except reasoning powers can explain the careful strategy used by a pride of lions in hunting, and the many examples we have had from Elsa of intelligent and thought-out behavior.”

Note: During the course of the story, George kills a lot of animals. Some are shot to feed Elsa. Some of it is in performance of his duties as game warden. Be forewarned if you know you’ll hate the killing. ( )
  dypaloh | Mar 22, 2019 |
Wonderful book and movie. Even today I can sing the whole song. She started the preservation of animals movement. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Review: Born Free by Joy Adamson.

The book is remarkable and entertaining. Well written, organized, and the characters are true, understanding, and caring. The story is about the association between man and wild beast. The author, Joy Adamson is married to a Game Warden in Kenya and tells the story of how memorized they are with Africa, the love of the people, the animals, and the land itself. As I read the book I learned of the complex personalities and emotions that animals have, just as humans have and I was touched by the Adamson’s adjustment and care they have for these animals. I have always enjoyed learning and understanding the behaviors of animals and how they survive in different environments. I read with great interest because this story is so unique.

Born Free is about how three cubs who became orphaned when George Adamson sprang up in the path of a lioness that jumped to attack him, so he shot her, not knowing that she was only protecting her cubs. The Adamson’s found a home at a zoo for two of the cubs and decided to keep the smallest one and named her Elsa. George and his wife were set up in Isiolo, Kenya a place where he was a Warden in a vast area of wilderness, which was posted, no hunting. However, he came across many poachers who he arrested and some that he didn’t catch but found the remains of the many animals dead mutilated from the poachers taking just what they wanted.

As Elsa grew she followed them everywhere. She had plenty of freedom for three years. The Adamson’s made sure Elsa was brought up on raw animal meet that they killed in an area that they could hunt and supplied her with chunks of raw meat everyday. So, for the first three years Elsa never learned to kill on her own and some of that was due to the reserve wilderness they were living on. What I loved was Elsa had an African man named Makedde who followed her around like a nanny to make sure she stayed safe and didn’t get into any mischief. There were so many amazing things she did and the companionship between Elsa and Joy Adamson was inseparable. They were like playmates but Elsa was getting to be strong and large and the Adamson’s decided with hesitancy that it was time to teach her the life she was born for. They knew they were going to have to take her where there were many animals of her kind and other large animals in an environment where she could survive. The author takes the reader through the whole process of teaching her to hunt and be on her own. They were hoping that possibly later she would find a mate. While reading I could sense how hard it was for Joy Adamson to slowly separate herself form Elsa and Elsa also had to go through feeling loneliness when left alone for days. The story goes on with the detachment process being done by days and then moving further to even weeks…..A great story and it doesn’t have to end with this book. There are two more books that continue the story if you want to learn more about Elsa….
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
Heart-warming autobiographical book about a European game warden and his wife, Joy Adamson, who adopt and raise a lioness cub in Kenya during the 1950s. The story is emotional, but the writing is matter-of-fact. The reader is provided with an intimate look into the activities of wildlife in that part of Africa, and the life of a game warden. By the end of the book, aided by the adorable descriptive writing and plenty of pictures, I was in love with Elsa. . . and in tears. The book is not world-changing, but it is somehow deeply affecting nonetheless. I want to on a Safari, now. ( )
  allisonneke | Dec 17, 2013 |
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Then the chief captain came, and said
unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman?
He said, Yea.
And the chief captain answered, With
a great sum obtained I this freedom.
And Paul said, But I was free born.
- ACTS, XXII. 27, 28
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A woman describes her experiences raising an orphaned lion cub intending that it eventually return to the jungle.

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