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Emerald Labyrinth: A Scientist's…

Emerald Labyrinth: A Scientist's Adventures in the Jungles of the…

by Eli Greenbaum

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Greenbaum travels through the Congo in search of new & under-documented amphibians & reptiles attempting to catalogue the diversity before species are forced to extinction by human practices. A couple of his tangents caused my to-read list to expand, but this was more of a repetitive travel log than a distilled account of the difficulties of conducting field research in a third-world country and the necessity of continuing to try. ( )
  dandelionroots | Apr 7, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book took me a very long time to read because there was just so much information included in it's pages. I did find some part extremely interesting and am now interested to read more about the Congo. I was honestly more interested in the descriptions of place and history more than the science. I received this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. ( )
1 vote LissaJ | Apr 30, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Author Eli Greenbaum is a herpetologist and evolutionary biologist. He's also a modern adventurer.

He's been to the People's Republic of the Congo several times in his quests to document new or rare species of amphibians (and the occasional snake). There is real urgency for this work, as with each acre of jungle that disappears, undiscovered species may disappear forever.

This is also a modern day travel adventure account as central Africa, with its continuing wars and unrest, along with its remote, difficult to access locations, has been overlooked and little understood by the West for many years.

Each chapter begins with a bit about the area he will be traveling in – history, such the colonial ambitions of Belgium's King Leopold II and more current events including wars, uprisings and civil wars including the Hutu/Tsutsi conflict and genocide. We're also introduced to some of the geology of the area that formed the Great Rift; and of course, the endangered gorillas and elephants of the area.

The chapter then continues with the story of his expedition , including the obstacles to travel due to terrain, illnesses such as malaria, and hostile inhabitants. And of course, he describes the creatures that he found, and how they are is important to his research and to understanding our changing planet as a whole.

I enjoyed the sheer adventure of this book, the scientific work and also learning about the Congo. I came away from it with an increased knowledge and appreciation of central Africa. If you're an armchair scientist or an armchair adventurer, I think you'll find this book of interest.

I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  streamsong | Mar 24, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Although the pacing was a little slow in some places (he provided a lot of background information, which was interesting overall), I enjoyed this book. Emerald Labyrinth is part memoir, part travelogue with science and history mixed. I appreciated that Greenbaum provided explanations of various scientific topics that informed the narrative but didn't use too much jargon - it's layperson-friendly. I wish there were more maps and photographs and that these had been dispersed throughout book, so that they were nearer to where they made their marks in the story. ( )
  elenaazad | Mar 23, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This one took a long time to finish. I just couldn't stay interested. Not the greatest of storytellers that I've read in this genre. I think storytelling was important here because I couldn't figure out the true aim of this book. Was it to share the experiences of being a field scientist? If so, it was shy on details that would have helped me live the life of a field scientist (herpetologist, in this case) through this book. I was hoping for this lens, I admit. Was it to share a story of the complex history of the Congo? In this case, I think the story is better told by others for too many reasons to note. Was it to ultimately shed light on the impact of external environmental factors on a region? That felt as though it came toward the end and without a lot of context.
The interesting: I enjoyed learning about new species that I'd never heard of, any story of a scientist doing fieldwork is of interest and there were some fun details, and I appreciated the dedication the author had to try and tell too complex of a story (social, political, environmental, etc).
  bookcaterpillar | Jan 27, 2018 |
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"Emerald Labyrinth is a scientist and adventurer's chronicle of years exploring the rainforests of sub-Saharan Africa. The richly varied habitats of the Democratic Republic of the Congo offer a wealth of animal, plant, chemical, and medical discoveries. But the country also has a deeply troubled colonial past and a complicated political present. Author Eli Greenbaum is a leading expert in sub-Saharan herpetology--snakes, lizards, and frogs--who brings a sense of wonder to the question of how science works in the twenty-first century. Along the way he comes face to face with spitting cobras, silverback mountain gorillas, wild elephants, and the teenaged armies of AK-47-toting fighters engaged in the continent's longest-running war. As a bellwether of the climate and biodiversity crises now facing the planet, the Congo holds the key to our planet's future. Writing in the tradition of books like The Lost City of Z, Greenbaum seeks out the creatures struggling to survive in a war-torn, environmentally threatened country. Emerald Labyrinth is an extraordinary book about the enormous challenges and hard-won satisfactions of doing science in one of the least known, least hospitable places on earth."--Amazon.com.… (more)

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