Daily Archives: May 13, 2013

** Between Man and Beast by Monte Reel

Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure that Took the Victorian World by Storm is the amazing story of Paul Du Chaillu, the son of a French merchant marine and a carefully concealed and conveniently dead  mother from the Reunion island, raised by an American missionary in Gabon, who discovered a new species of primates, the gorilla, to be feted at first but them doubted and ostracized by the scientific community.

The best parts of the book for me are the ones set in Gabon, during du Chaillu’s treks to find the gorillas. (He had to go back to gather tangible proofs of his initial discovery.) It’s hot and dangerous and the killing is tremendous, along with fevers, tribal jealousies, and assorted disasters. The British scientific community’s disputes and intrigues pale in comparison.

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