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by Peter Matthiessen
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  • Author:
    Peter Matthiessen
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  • Publisher:
    Random House (1991)
  • Pages:
    224 pages
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    1987 kb
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Praise for Peter Matthiessen’s. Matthiessen brings a needed balance to the question of wildlife preservation, never losing sight of the problem’s human dimension.

Praise for Peter Matthiessen’s. At times poeti. nd always informative. St. Petersburg Times. His work is that rare combination of solid information and splendid writing. His book is elegant and elegiac.

The peter matthiessen reader. In Lost Man’s River Matthiessen returns to the primeval landscape of the Florida Everglades, the setting of his bestseller Killing Mister Watson. In this single-volume collection of the distinguished author’s nonfiction are essays and excerpts that highlight the spiritual, literary, and political daring so crucial to Matthiessen’s vision. In 1910 a sugarcane planter named E. J. Watson was gunned down by a group of his neighbors, perhaps in cold blood, perhaps in self defense. Years later, E. s son Lucius tries to discover the truth of his father’s life and death.

African Silences (1991). Baikal: Sacred Sea of Siberia (1992)

Matthiessen at WNYC New York Public Radio in 2008 promoting his novel Shadow Country. In his book The Snow Leopard, Matthiessen reported having had a somewhat tempestuous on-again off-again relationship with his wife Deborah, culminating in a deep commitment to each other made shortly before she was diagnosed with cancer. Matthiessen and Deborah practiced Zen Buddhism. She died in New York City near the end of 1972. African Silences (1991). Baikal: Sacred Sea of Siberia (1992). East of Lo Monthang: In the Land of Mustang (1995).

by. Peter Matthiessen. Books for People with Print Disabilities. Internet Archive Books. Matthiessen, Peter - Travel - Africa, Natural history - Africa, Naturalists - United States - Biography, Authors, American - 20th century - Biography, Africa - Description and travel.

He kept that feather for many years without finding anyone, white or black, who could identify the bird. In 1934, in the African museum at Tervueren, near Brussels, he matched the feather to the hen. of an old pair of stuffed fowls that were thought to be juvenile domestic peacocks. The cockbird was dark blue and green, with a russet neck patch, while the hen was green above, russet beneath.

African Silences book. Details (if other): Cancel. Thanks for telling us about the problem. The African Trilogy by.

Peter Matthiessen was a literary legend, the author of more than thirty acclaimed books.

In this critically acclaimed work Peter Matthiessen explores new terrain on a continent he has written about in two previous books, A Tree Where Man Was Born - nominated for the National Book Award - and Sand Rivers. Peter Matthiessen was a literary legend, the author of more than thirty acclaimed books. In this, his final novel, he confronts the legacy of evil, and our unquenchable desire to wrest good from it. One week in late autumn of 1996, a group gathers at the site of a former death camp. Through his eyes we see elephants, white rhinos, gorillas, and other endangered creatures of the wild.

Fantastic travelogue and natural history of West and Central Africa. Published by Thriftbooks. The first essay detailed a trip he made in 1978 to West Africa, accompanying primatologist Gilbert Boese on a wildlife survey of Senegal, Gambia, and Ivory Coast.

On African journeys that began with an overland trip from Egypt to Tanganyika in 1961, I traveled widely in East and Southern Africa (Botswana), the last great redoubt of large wild creatures left on earth. Not until the winter of 1978 did I reach West Africa - specifically Senegal-Gambia and Ivory Coast - accompanying a primatologist, Dr. Gilbert Boese, on an informal survey of what was left of West Africa wildlife, from the Sahel region, south of the Sahara, to the Guinea forest to the coasts, the continuing eastward to Zaire, hoping to join an expedition in search of the rare Congo peacock, and enjoying two meeting with Gorillas along the way. These journeys compromise the first two sections of this book. In 1980, I joined a safara into remote regions of the Selous Game Reserve, in Tanzania, and in the winter of 1986 I returned to Central Africa, accompanying ecologist David Western, director of the New York Zoological Society's Wildlife Conservation International, on the expedition described in the main section of this book. We planned a survey of the Congo Basin - Central African Republic, Gabon, Zaire - with the primary aim of determining the status of the small forest elephant, whose ivory was beginning to replace the larger ivory of the bush or savanna elephant in the world markets; we also hoped to shed some light on the elusive and mysterious "pygmy elephant," which had been reported from these central forests for nearly a century... (taken from the book's prologue)

This author writes a gripping account of his journeys. One can actually see. These wild creatures in their habitat.
I love this book; I had a paperback and I purchased this hard copy in order to keep it for years to come and reread.
Recounts the very sad impact of primitive and modern human construct upon the ancient land that is still Africa. Read and weep, and then create a voice for our better human selves.
Not the right book.
_African Silences_ by Peter Matthiessen is a well-written account of three different trips to the continent by the author.

The first essay detailed a trip he made in 1978 to West Africa, accompanying primatologist Gilbert Boese on a wildlife survey of Senegal, Gambia, and Ivory Coast. When the journey began Matthiessen was hopeful, as it was a region he had not previously visited and included such varied terrains as long-grass savanna, forest, and the Sahel, an arid country that stretches all the way east to Sudan, a land of "parched thornbrush of baobab and scrub acacia, red termite hills, starlings and hornbills."

Matthiessen did see some wildlife. In Niokolo Koba, the last stronghold of large animals in Senegal, he spied baboons, several monkey species, several antelope species (such as duiker and waterbucks), hippos, forest buffalo, warthogs and parakeets. Along the Senegalese coast, in a mangrove swamp, he spotted the unusual palm-nut vulture, a striking white bird that lives mainly on the nut of the oil palm.

Largely though the author saw remarkably little wildlife. He noted that some researchers felt that some mammals - such as the black rhino, wildebeest, and zebra - if they ever occurred in West Africa, vanished long ago. Others believed that the poor soil of the region could not support much in the way of large game animals, though Matthiessen pointed out its similarities with the soil of the famous East African game plains. No, West Africa lacks wildlife simply because it is more populous than East Africa and has been inhabited a great deal longer, with people present raising crops of pearl millet and sorghum, burning woodland, and hunting for at least the last 2000 years, competing for the same land favored by the megafauna. In addition, there isn't much impetus to preserve wildlife for the tourist trade as there is in East Africa and also the populous nations of this region are filled with poor, protein-starved desperate people, viewing wildlife as a much needed part of their diet. Indeed in several languages in West Africa the word for "animal" is the same word for "meat." As a result, most of the region has virtually "unobstructed poaching" and in some nations, such as Nigeria, it is unusual to see any live wild animal outside of its one game reserve (the black rhino, giant eland, and all but 9 of its 32 hoofed mammal species have gone extinct in Nigeria).

His second essay takes place in the same year but in Zaire, where the author journeyed to look for the very rarely seen Congo peacock (according to one source at the time only one non-African had ever seen one live in the wild) and the gorilla. After a delay in the broken-down, littered, depressing city of Kinshasa, the author journeyed deep into the forested interior (Zaire is huge, comparable in size to Europe). While Matthiessen got some good observations of gorillas and delighted in some of the animals unique to the highlands, such as the red-faced woodland warbler, regal sunbird, and the L'Hoesti monkey, the peafowl eluded him.

The longest and most enjoyable essay in the book was that describing his 1986 sojourn through Central Africa to determine the status of the small forest elephant of the Congo Basin. Since the savanna or bush elephant (_Loxodonta africana africana_) had at the time been imperiled by rampant ivory poaching, conservationists feared that poachers would turn to the smaller forest race (_L. a. cyclotis_). Ivory trade proponents argued that large numbers of the forest race were hidden in the dense jungle and could continue to support the ivory trade while ecologists feared that in fact the forested interior was inhospitable habitat and forest elephant numbers had always been low. In addition to the importance this would have on getting international support to curtail or stop the ivory trade, researchers wanted to know if there really was a third race, perhaps even a separate species, of elephant, the pygmy elephant (_L. pumilio_). Did it exist at all? Were they merely smaller members of the more common forest race?

Matthiessen and those he traveled with found many surprises, such as the presence of "bush" elephants deep in the forest. Were they refugees from the ivory trade, wandering individuals who had simply journeyed deep into the jungle, or did they always exist there, perhaps genetic evidence that the now nearly continuous forest was once broken up into a number of refugia, separated by savanna and grassland? They also found many individuals showed characteristics of both bush and forest races, indicating a very wide zone of hybridization and speculated that the "pygmy elephant" was merely a juvenile forest elephant, which as a race had offspring independent at an earlier age.

The entire expedition made for great reading. It was a long one, covering 7000 miles, beginning in Kenya and ending in Libreville, on Gabon's Atlantic coast, largely concentrating on the Central African Republic, Gabon, and Zaire. Made in a light plane, it was a perilous journey, the pilot and the author at the mercy of the titanic thunderstorms of the region, continually having to risk arrest by landing in unauthorized areas to refuel, dealing with corrupt officials, and almost never able to put down thanks to the "awesome inhospitality of the equatorial forest," as any light plane landing in the jungle would "disappear into this greenness like a stone dropped from the air into the sea." The immense forest, "undulating in all directions to the green horizon," a "dark green sea," was, while dangerous to fly over, nevertheless magnificent, containing all the greens in the world - "[f]orest green and gray-green, jade, emerald, and turquoise, pond green, pea green," a land of hard to find but nevertheless remarkable wildlife, including gorillas, chimpanzees, okapi, bongos, buffalo, and such primates as the vervet or green monkey, a carrier for the dangerous "green monkey disease," said to be related to the AIDS virus. Matthiessen also spent some time with a group of pygmies, the Mbuti.
I've had African Silences for years, always intending to read it someday. I finally picked it up and as I started reading, I realized that it was and wasn't what I expected. It is a memoir of travels in west Africa (mostly) and it is about the many animals that have disappeared or whose numbers have been so diminished as to make them invisible. Sadly, though, and in the beginning at least, it is a listing of where they went, what they did, what did and didn't see, as if simply cataloguing the experience. There was little of the prose for which Matthiessen is known and very little actual story telling. I stopped after about 40 pages or so, not just because it wasn't entertaining, but because it was incredibly sad to read that perhaps hundreds of species are gone. It may have gotten better, but the sadness in the details was more than I wanted to deal with. I will give someone else a chance to read this copy.
The narrative covers the African travels of the mid1980's in search of the elusive (and non-existent) pygmy elephant. Even then, the prospects of all elephants were dire. Some 30 years later, these magnificent, caring matriarchies are moving ever closer to extinction, victims of a rapacious trade in ivory, as well as ignorant governance and land management. Education, education, education is necessary to create the motivation and the wherewithal to put in place measures to stem the collapse of African ecosystems and it's rich diversity.
I have tremendously enjoyed reading this book. This book takes a reader on a perilous journey in Senegal, Gambia, and the Ivory Coast as well as Gabon and Zaire. Author's prose, as always, is powerful and lyrical, shows the grim reality of people and wildlife in the area. Despite the previous reviewer's opinion, I am giving this book the best rating possible. The author's intention was to document the reality. This book is not work of fiction. In my opinion the book is excellent.