Contented Reader

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Last Chance to See: In the Footsteps of Douglas Adams

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Last Chance to See: In the Footsteps of Douglas Adams

Mark Carwardine

HarperCollins

Of course I read the original Last Chance to See.  And of course I own a copy, aging and well-read.  Anyone who doesn’t own a complete set of Douglas Adams’s books is just a tragic doofus.  Or else a very young person with an amazing treat in front of them.  Imagine, getting to read Douglas Adams’s books for the first time.  They have worn such a deep groove in my brain that I can quote long passages from most of them.

To be honest, my hopes weren’t that high when I saw this book on the remaindered shelf at my bookstore.  It may have the same title, but there’ll never be another Douglas Adams, will there?  I tried to read the attempt by some other author to write another Hitchhiker’s Guide book, and got nothing but sorrow and pain for my efforts.

Still, it was on sale and full of pretty pictures, and had a forward by Stephen Fry, so I gave it a try.

I know this sounds like blasphemy, but I’m going to say it: this book is as good as its predecessor.  Yes, even though Douglas Adams didn’t write it.  Carwardine is a wonderful writer, passionate and funny and humane.  I was forced to take this book outside to read it.  It demanded to be read in the sunshine, under a sky, not on a sofa under a roof.

The idea of the book (and its associated BBC television series, which I haven’t seen) is this: Carwardine and Fry return to the places that Carwardine and Adams visited in the 1980s, to try to see the endangered animals they saw then, and to report on their progress.  Fry was the right person to take on this journey- intelligent, funny, and willing to sacrifice comfortable quarters and wifi service in order to meet exotic animals in remote places.

Of the eight animals from the original book, two are now extinct in the wild.  Carwardine and Fry visit some additional endangered animals, as well, and discover that it’s no longer easy for a BBC news crew to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The book is a combination of good science writing and amusing travel writing, in just the right proportions.  It is full of absolutely wonderful pictures of the animals, places, and people that Carwardine and Fry encountered on their world travels.

Frankly, now that I’ve read it, I am having trouble understanding what it was doing on the sale table at my bookstore.  Why was this book remaindered?  Why is it available right now on deep deep discount on both the US and the UK amazon.coms?  I think this is a book that would make a good reading experience for almost anyone.  You should buy a few extra copies, to give as gifts.

 

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Written by Contented Reader

August 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Reviews

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