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Kingdom Under Glass: A Tale Of Obsession, Adventure, And One Man's Quest To Preserve The World's Great Animals (2010)

by Jay Kirk(Favorite Author)
3.82 of 5 Votes: 2
080509282X (ISBN13: 9780805092820)
Henry Holt and Co.
review 1: This biography of Carl Akeley, a taxidermist who was primarily responsible for the African Hall at the American Museum of Natural History, tells a tale of his obsession with displaying the fauna of Africa behind glass before it becomes extinct. This, of course, necessitates the killing of the animals he claims to glorify. He leads several expeditions to Africa, where he kills many more animals than he needs, searching for the perfect specimens for his dioramas. He ruins his health in the process and has two marriages to fascinating women. The style of this book is very novelistic. The author acknowledges that this method of telling his story leads to doubt about the accuracy of his work. He includes extensive notes on the provenance of each chapter to allay those doubts... more. This is a compelling tale of a particular man, but also of the time when rich men and a few women went to Africa and wantonly devastated the animals there. (After his presidency, Teddy Roosevelt went on a safari to Africa where he killed more than 11,000 animals.) At least Akeley had a goal beyond the simple joy of killing. I must admit that I never stopped to think about the animals that were killed to provide the museum displays that I have always enjoyed.
review 2: Most biographies that I read are dry books that read like poorly written college history books. You can usually expect it to be third person recounting of facts and dates, often, they aren't even strictly narrative. Not so with Kingdom Under Glass. Jay Kirk wrote this in a narrative style that assumes to know the details of events and the thoughts of characters that he can't possibly know. While some people might argue whether that adheres to some kind of morale code for non-fiction books, it definitely makes it much more readable. More like a good fiction book of adventure. Not only that, but it is actually very well crafted writing, impressively so. In fact, I'd venture to say that I don't see a lot of writing that is quite as good nowadays.[return][return]As far as the subject goes, Carl Akeley did lead a fascinating life, full of drama and adventure. I loved reading about his adventures, his struggles, and his marital dramas involving a crazy monkey. It is also fascinating because of how Akeley's story intersects with some of the more well known historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt and George Eastman.[return][return]I'd highly suggest this for all biography readers, and I think that many other readers would like it as well. It would especially appeal to travel and adventure readers. less
Reviews (see all)
Interesting read about the ealry worl of taxidermy.
A unique style of biography. Excellently written.
great fun!
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