Nkosi Sikelele uAnthony. (Zulu for May God Bless Mr Anthony) and others like him. When the majority of humanity is out to hunt, capture, kill and destroy animals, these people bring the gift of life.
Lawrence Anthony’s game reserve was aptly named Thula Thula. This Zulu and Xhosa word means ‘be calm, be still, be quiet’. An African mother will comfort a crying child with “Thula baba”, don’t fret. All will be well. You are protected and cared for. “Thula, thula”. This is how the animals are treated on the reserve. He writes about the silence of the bush, without city noises, so that the multitudinous sounds of nature can be heard. The “Whisperer”.
Yesterday, my cat brought me the cutest bush baby. It scampered up a curtain, and I spoke it calm, until it went to sleep on the curtain rail. Thula baba. Anthony does this with elephants.
I have the greatest respect and admiration for his incredible courage, patience, perseverance, compassion, understanding, wisdom, and the unconditional love he has for all creatures, as also the sacrifices he makes for them. He gives so much, and knows how to receive. His interaction with the elephants is so beautiful and special. Death, which is very much a part of life in Africa, is described with heartfelt poignancy, particularly the tragic demise of Mnumzaan, the young “rogue” elephant.
For me, the way animals “know” is deeply touching, and is sensitively portrayed in the book . I remembered the time we made a short pit-stop in a reserve. When I turned around my 6 year old child was gone. About to panic, I saw her blithely standing in between the front legs of an enormously tall giraffe. Instinct told me not to go near, but softly call her. Eventually, she ambled towards us, totally unharmed.
Anthony’s life with the elephants is quite extraordinary and forms the core of a wonderful and well-written book. I also loved hearing his other anecdotes, which are so close to home, a normal part of life in the bush. The dogs, veldfires, neighbours, snakes… I’ve visited with the westernised Sangomas with their leather jackets and cell phones, but also those in traditional skins with stuffed lions in their huts. It’s all so warmly familiar. We knew there was a problem with snakes on my son-in-law’s game farm, when a large Kudu bull lay dead in the grass, spiral horns intact. On our next game drive, he suddenly slammed on brakes of his 4x4, and jumped out running with his firearm. After a while, he returned saying “Black Mamba”. Whilst driving, he had seen it sliding down a tree and hoped to shoot it before it disappeared in the long grass.
This brings me to the only parts of the book I found difficult to believe or accept. Nobody I know would walk about unarmed in the bush. Yet, time and again Anthony has no weapon with him. That seems plain foolhardy, with so much to protect and so much unforeseen danger.
I have one more gripe. I think Simon Vance is a brilliant narrator, and I always enjoy listening to him read audiobooks. BUT, the British accent (which tends to go Australian when he tries to sound South African) sounds most colonial. Not a good thing here. It keeps reminding me how awful it was in the past, when those very colonials used hollowed out elephant feet as ashtrays. Horrific. I remember this all too well. I understand that the author’s background was very likely colonial, coming gradually further south from Kenya. But he’d clearly become far more Afrikanised. Surely, Audible, you could find a South African reader? Someone with a plausible accent who can pronounce the English, Afrikaans and Zulu words correctly? That takes my 5 Star rating down to 4.
Just a final word about the reviews, which were interesting to read before I bought the audiobook. A “preserve” involves a jar, food, and eating. A “reserve” is where wild animals are kept in a protected environment. No eating them! But thanks for your lovely comments.
I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.
Lawrence Anthony is the proprietor of a game reserve in Zululand, Africa. The name of the game reserve is Thula Thula. He is asked to take a herd of wild elephants who have been causing numerous problems at another reserve. What determines his decision is the fact that if he doesn't "rescue" them, they will all be put down. He also likes the thought of a challenge.
Lawrence had a way with all animals and he was counting on this to save the elephants from certain death. He knew he had to give it a try.
This is the memoir of a man who loved all animals and was taught by the elephants to become a listener. Lawrence worked long and gently with the elephants and was rewarded with a shared kindness.
This memoir is a good and gentle read. I thought the narrator, Simon Vance, did a great job and made the story flow. The characters were well developed and that included some of the animals. There is humor, warmth and sadness. Listening to the book was a pleasant one. I don't think you would be disappointed if you were to purchase this memoir.
The listener is also provided with some education about Africa, its people and its land. I think the words, do unto others as you would have others do unto you would explain Lawrence Anthony's memoir. Enjoy a great listen.
Yes. The story is captivating, suspenseful, and a world away from America. The narration is outstanding. I fell in love with the people and the animals and their collective wisdom, intelligence and ability to communicate.
It honors non-human life.
At the beginning, my heart broke for the tragic loss of the original matriarch of the herd. There were many other equally moving moments throughout the story.
I highly recommend this!
It was an unbelievable experience to listen to this audiobook! Thank you for the privilege to share this wonderful African bush life adventure. I was born in Africa and lived there for most of my life and although I don't live there anymore, this book brought it all back very vividly.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson
What a surprise! I loved this book. I’m not usually a fan of animal stories. Usually they are too cutesy and just not my thing. This book, however, somehow got through this block of mine, and it rose above any cutesy-ness and was moving, well written, and eye opening.
The first I’d read about the intelligence of elephants was indirectly in the novel, “Like Water for Elephants, “ which I loved. Here, the author learns first hand and in real life about the magnificent capabilities of elephants… both physical and mental, since he is in charge of a game reserve in Africa and agrees to take in a herd of angry elephants. To me, however, the most impressive part of the book was the ability of the author to “psychoanalyze” all types of animals on his reserve and in his life – from the elephants down to his bull-terrier dog, Max. His analyses are really interesting and raise the book up a notch or two. The author is an amazing man: an outdoorsman, a man’s man, and also a wonderful, kind, brave, and understanding human being. He managed to throw in a few tidbits about the important people in his life in just the right proportion to the rest of his story. For example, the anecdotes about how he met his wife and later how he came to marry his wife were interesting, funny, and just the right length so as not to detract from his main focus of the animal reserve and the elephants he adopted.
I thought it was interesting that the whole idea of adopting the elephants was to keep them alive and keep them wild. Angry elephants are too dangerous and will most likely be killed, so he needed to work with this group for many months to quite them down but not to domesticate them. He had to strike a balance between working with them, in his own unique way, and leaving them alone. In the end, he succeeded and then writes about how he now doesn’t interact very much with these elephants since his main goal of getting them to accept their surroundings has been accomplished. Along the way, he changes his perceptions – and the readers’ – about the capabilities of elephants, and as he falls under their spell, so do we!
What an exquisitely done book. The picture he painted of Africa and those magnificient animals was almost tangible. His deep love for them and deep grief at the loss of those who died was presented without being overly sentimental...just real. Enjoyed this book SO much!
It was perfection. Just the right intonation. Felt like he was telling a story instead of reading a book.
This book is meaningful, moving, informative, funny, exciting, and so much more. I've listened to almost 50 audible books and this is without question one of the best (it may be THE best). I'd give it a 10 if the ratings went that high. It's very well-written and the narrator's voice is just perfect. I can't say enough about how great this book is. It's especially great if you like animals; there's a lot in here about how animals (elephants) live and love. I've been to Africa on a safari and have seen these incredible creatures up close. This book captures their intrigue and majesty. Listen to it -- you'll love it.
I could not put this book down. I happened upon this book by looking at some reviews when I couldn't find anything that looked interesting to read at the time. Boy, am I glad I picked up this gem. I can't imaging anyone but Simon Vance reading this, he just nailed it! You fall in love with the elephants. I laughed and cried.
This is a fantastic book about some of nature's most beautiful and amazing animals. Anthony does a magnificent job of sharing his story of settling a herd of seven wild elephants on his 5,000 acres of bush in Zululand, South Africa. I respect his decision to try to extend the reserve to include the neighboring tribal land so that a greater number of wild animals might live comfortably without interference. The elephants get the credit they deserve for being remarkably intelligent and resilient, despite extremely harsh treatment and bad memories early on.
The book makes the reader feel as though they're experiencing the African bush with the rangers and animals over the period of time. It's wonderfully energizing and one hates to leave their company at the end.
The narrator Simon Vance is one of my top favorites. Excellent job on this project.
Overall: Upon finishing this book, one feels quite as though one is losing a friend. Anthony is not simply an elephant whisperer, but fortunately a man who spoke to us, too.
As an animal lover, I really liked this book. It didn't make me want to pack my bags and go to Africa (too many snakes and insects were described), but it did thoroughly entertain me and I learned a lot, too.