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Audie Award Winner, Biography/Memoir, 2014
When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of "rogue" wild elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, his common sense told him to refuse. But he was the herd's last chance of survival: they would be killed if he wouldn't take them. In order to save their lives, Anthony took them in. In the years that followed he became a part of their family. And as he battled to create a bond with the elephants, he came to realize that they had a great deal to teach him about life, loyalty, and freedom.
The Elephant Whisperer is a heartwarming, exciting, funny, and sometimes sad account of Anthony's experiences with these huge yet sympathetic creatures. Set against the background of life on an African game reserve, with unforgettable characters and exotic wildlife, it is a delightful book that will appeal to animal lovers and adventurous souls everywhere.
It is a given that if you love animals or have interest in conservationism, you will enjoy this book, but I honestly doubt there are many people that would not really be delighted with this true story of a man who makes a special connection with a herd of elephants in order to save their lives. Lawrence Anthony calls up vivid images of his preserve, Thula Thula, to the point that you feel that you have been there and the combination of his efforts to save the wild animals, the adventures and misadventures of his three canine companions, and the strange political climate he must maneuver through make this narrative as action packed and fast paced as any adventure novel. The real life characters, both animal and human, that populate this book are all unique and interesting and I ached to know the rest of their stories when the book ended. Anthony works hard to try to understand the underlying motivations of the humans and the animals he works with and has some surprising insights into elephants, dogs, rhinos, snakes, plants, and people scattered throughout the narrative. This would be a fascinating tale coming from anyone, but the book is so well written with imagery that effortlessly calls up the characters and the settings in your mind and made me want to want to listen without pause.
In addition, Simon Vance gives a truly masterful performance. His voice is quite pleasant anyway, but he really takes "ownership" of this book and I felt like I was listening to the author himself tell me of his personal adventure.
I don't give many 5 stars, but I have no reservations with this book - it's first rate all the way. I would recommend it to anyone over the age of 10. (There are some scenes in the book that would be a bit traumatic for young children, but older children will love the book as much as adults.)
One Note to Animal Lovers: As an animal lover myself, I am always attracted to books about the animal kingdom and also always hesitant to read them because I hate to read about any mistreatment of animals. This book does have its difficult moments, but the overarching feel of this story is so very positive and has so many interesting insights about the natural world that I think you will find it is worth reading and will leave you inspired and not depressed.
Discovering Lawrence Anthony within months of his death (March 2012) makes me hope that Audible will make his other books available at some point in the near future.
95 of 97 people found this review helpful
As a conservationist tries to settle a family of "rogue" elephants onto his game reserve, he learns valuable lessons about family, loyalty, and friendship.
I really enjoyed this audiobook. The story really was an inspiring journey touching on many emotional levels. Smiles, tears, anger, disbelief and wonder all rolled into a story that kept me engaged throughout. I even had to find the Thula Thula reserve online because I found myself wanting to plan a visit here at some point.
Simon Vance really brings this book to life. His style and voice are perfect compliments to the feelings of the story.
I dont think you can go wrong picking up this offering.
27 of 28 people found this review helpful
STORY (personal memoir) - Lawrence Anthony is "The Elephant Whisperer." He lives in South Africa and runs an animal preserve called Thula Thula. He is persuaded to adopt a herd of rogue elephants to save them from being killed, and he establishes a form of communication with them. Though they still live in the bush and remain wild, he learns from them and earns their respect. They form a strange bond, and his life is forever changed and enriched.
Much of this story is about the day-to-day running of Thula Thula. Anthony must deal with poachers, fire, Zulu tribal politics, animal attacks and running a preserve teeming with all kinds of creatures. In a place where only the fittest survive, there is the beauty of life but also the sadness of death. I'm an animal lover and must admit to shedding a tear or two, but I'm so very glad I heard this story. I was impressed with Anthony's patience and kindness, and I was amazed by the intelligence of the elephants! The message I take away from this book is one which is mentioned in the beginning, that there is much more to life than yourself, your family and your own kind. Makes me think...
PERFORMANCE - He does a good job. I liked his African tribal accent.
OVERALL - I'd recommend this book to everyone except younger children, due to some intense scenes. There is no profanity. Animal lovers who are softies (like me) will cringe and cry a little, but the book is wonderful so don't let that hold you back!
UPDATE AFTER THE BOOK - Mr. Anthony died in 2012 of a heart attack. According to news articles, two herds of elephants mysteriously traveled for 12 hours to his home shortly after his death. It had been approximately 18 months since their last "visit." They stayed two days, as if paying their respect, and then returned into the bush. Yet another example of the unusual communication and bond Anthony had formed with the elephants.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
I don't want to list all the superlatives that come to mind right now after just finishing this book. If you are interested in nature and wildlife, it is a must read. I don't know how you could listen to this book and not come away feeling deeply affected and changed. I don't know how you could listen to this book and not want to visit Thula Thula.
Other reviews have already described the story. I just want to say that you need to download this book and set aside 11 hours as soon as possible, for you will be wanting to do little else than listen to it.
31 of 33 people found this review helpful
When I was a young boy my dad would read safari books to me. I assume for that reason I love most anything about animals in Africa. In my slightly biased opinion this book will not disappoint you. Once the book gets rolling which doesn't take long you will not want to do anything except hear more.
The narration is fantastic, absolutely fantastic. I bought the printed book for a friend who likes true adventure stories. He will love it but unfortunately he won't get to hear the narration.
The story evokes every emotion with fear being prominent. I kept trying to imagine what it would be like to face down a huge African elephant or even a spitting cobra. How would my senses change when having to be aware of every movement in the environment? Could I ever completely relax?
15 of 16 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Awesome book. I liked it so much I will buy his other books to see what they are like. I am also considering traveling to Thula Thula to visit the preserve after reading the history. This has also really raised my interest in elephants. Looks like I will have to take a trip to the zoo soon just to see the elephants. I cant say enough good things about the book. I have listened to about 25 audio books over the last year and this might be my favorite.
Who was your favorite character and why?
What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?
This is the third book that I have listened to that Simon Vance narrated. This is by far my favorite one.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I listened to this in my car and sometimes the story was so funny I laughed out loud. I am sure other people watching and wondered what was so funny. Other times is was so sad it was all I could do to prevent tears from streaming down my face.
18 of 20 people found this review helpful
Now I have loved Elephants since I was a wee lassie, so with a title like this one I would certainly gravitate toward it. There were so many things that went on in the years that this book covers you never knew what the next curve of the ride was going to be.
It did not pull any punches there were sad things and wonderful things and some things that you did not know what was going to happen for sure until the very end. But mostly I was entranced to hear this man's account of these wonderful creatures. Even with his attempt to keep them sort of wild, but the Matriarch trusting him, the sensitivity and intelligence of these giants was evident and what I would have guessed about them.
Now I know that not everyone will rush to read this book, but speaking from my heart where the 5 year old still resides that wanted to keep a big elephant in the living room because it ws the biggest room in the house. Try it and see if you do not smile in your heart.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Listening to this book transported me from my car to the African bush. Simon Vance was so authentic in his reading that I felt as though I were listening to the author. The interactions with the elephants were beautiful and, at times, frightening. The love that Lawrence Anthony had for these and all creatures was apparent as he often risked his life for theirs. Thula Thula is a place that I would love to visit.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
Just a charming story wonderfully read by Simon Vance. Don't over think it; just enjoy it.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful
Lawrence Anthony (17 September 1950-2 March 2012) was a conservationist with the Thula Game Reserve in Zululand, South Africa. He was asked to accept a herd of “rogue” elephants otherwise they would be killed. The elephants had been badly traumatized and would require special care. Apparently he wanted to refuse because of the problems of adding another herd of elephants, but he just could not say no.
The story tells of the bonding with the elephants and becoming part of the herd. Anthony tells interesting anecdotes: some funny, some sad but all educational. He tells how he learned to communicate with the elephants. I send a big thank you to the Zulu people for creating and maintaining this magnificent wild game refuge.
The book is well written and is a highly readable memoir of his life among the exotic animals. The book also provides information about the life and culture of the Zulu people. I read in the newspaper that when Anthony died, the elephants suddenly appeared at his home on the Reserve and spent two days around the house in mourning. I keep wondering how they knew he died. Simon Vance is one of my favorite narrators and of course he does his usual excellent job narrating the book.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful