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The Black Rhinos of Namibia: Searching for Survivors in the African Desertby Rick Bass
Synopses & Reviews
From one of our most gifted writers on the natural world comes a stunning exploration of a unique landscape and the improbable and endangered animal that makes its home there.
Rick Bass first made a name for himself as a writer and seeker of rare, iconic animals, including the grizzlies and wolves of the American West. Now he's off on a new, far-flung adventure in the Namib of southwest Africa on the trail of another fascinating, vulnerable species. The black rhino is a three-thousand-pound, squinty-eyed giant that sports three-foot-long dagger horns, lives off poisonous plants, and goes for days without water.
Human intervention and cutting-edge conservation saved the rhinos — for now — from the brink of extinction brought on by poaching and war. Against the backdrop of one of the most ancient and harshest terrains on earth, Bass, with his characteristic insight and grace, probes the complex relationship between humans and nature and meditates on our role as both destroyer and savior.
In the tradition of Peter Matthiessen's The Tree Where Man Was Born, Bass captures a haunting slice of Africa, especially of the "black" rhinos that glow ghostly white in the gleaming sun.
"Novelist and memoirist Bass (Why I Came West) records his travels to Namibia to 'witness... a ponderous beast out upon such a naked and seemingly unsupporting landscape.' At Damaraland, in the Namib Desert, Bass encounters activist Mike Hearn of the Save the Rhino Trust. Throughout the book, Bass renders an affectionate portrait of Hearn and his life's work defending rhinos. No actual rhino appears until more than halfway through, when searches culminate in two perilous and riveting encounters. Later, Bass travels from Damaraland to the tamer and popular Etosha National Park. While the rhino's plight, and efforts to ensure its recovery, are given considerable attention, Bass's time in the desert, among its animals and vastness, focuses him on 'the big questions': the origin of life, the rhino's miraculous adaptation to the desert's austerity, and what humanity can learn from the magnificent animal. Time in the desert also yields touching meditations on time itself — its nature, and our experience of it. To describe the desert, another protagonist, Bass must examine the nature of perception: 'The barren land unscrolls before us as if being created by the very act of our seeing.' On occasion, Bass struggles to infuse the ruminations with poetry; his prose, packed with similes and comparisons, can be cumbersome. Agent: Robert Datilla, the Phoenix Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Acclaimed nature writer Rick Bass takes us on a journey into the Namib Desert to follow a group of poachers-turned-conservationists as they track the endangered black rhinos through their ancient and harsh African homeland.
The Lost Grizzlies chronicles the ongoing search for proof that a small number of grizzly bears still lives in the isolated mountain wilds of southern Colorado. Rick Bass turns his considerable talents to an evocation of wilderness beauty and the history of human encroachment that may, or may not, have wiped out the last of these massive, solitary bears from their southern range.
In this poignant look at the thirty-year journey of one of our countrys great naturalist writers, Rick Bass describes how he fell in love with the mystique of the West--as a dramatic landscape, as an idea, and as a way of life. Bass grew up in the suburban sprawl of Houston, and after attending college in Utah he spent eight years working in Mississippi as a geologist, until one day he packed up and went in search of something visceral, true, and real. He found it in the remote Yaak Valley of northwestern Montana, where despite extensive logging not a single species has gone extinct since the last Ice Age.
Bass has lived in the Yaak” ever since, and in Why I Came West he chronicles his transformation into the writer, hunter, and environmental activist that he is today. He explains how the rugged, wild landscape smoothed out his own rough edges; attempts to define the appeal of the West that so transfixed him as a boy, a place of mountains and outlaws and continual rebirth; and tells of his own role as a reluctant activist—sometimes at odds with his own neighbors—unwilling to stand idly by and watch this treasured place disappear.
Rick Bass is the author of many acclaimed books of nonfiction and fiction, including The Lives of Rocks, The Diezmo, and Winter.
Rick Bass takes us on a stunning exploration of an unique landscape, one of the most ancient and harshest on earth, and the improbable and endangered animal that makes its home there.
The black rhinos of the Namib Desert are super-survivors — muscle-clad, squinty-eyed giants with feet the diameter of laundry baskets. But until recently, the survival of these animals was very much in question and their numbers dwindled on the edge of extinction in Namibia.
In the tradition of Matthiessen's The Tree Where Man Was Born, Bass captures a slice of Africa — the haunting sound of doves cooing at first light each morning, the laughter of hyenas at night, the otherworldly heat — and most enduringly of all the "black" rhinos that glow ghostly white in the gleaming sun.
Colter was the runt of the litter, and Rick Bass took him only because nobody else would. Soon, though, Bass realized he had a raging genius on his hands, and he raided his daughters' college fund to send Colter to the best schools. Colter could be a champion, Rick was told, but he'd have to be broken, slowed down. Rick "could no more imagine a slowing-down Colter than a slow-motion bolt of lightning in the sky," and instead of breaking Colter he followed him. Colter led him into new territory, an unexplored land where he felt more alive, more intimately connected to the world, than he'd ever been before. In the course of telling us Colter's story, Rick Bass also tells us of his childhood fascination with snapping turtles and dirt, and of the other animals - including people - that have shaped his life. COLTER is an interspecies love story that vividly captures the relationship between humans and dogs. Like all of Bass's work, it is passionate, poetic, and original.
About the Author
Rick Bass's fiction has received O. Henry Awards, numerous Pushcart Prizes, awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. Most recently, his memoir Why I Came West was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.
Table of Contents
Part I: Pastoral 1
Part II: Wild 77
Part III: Dust 197
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