Synopses & Reviews
It was the Age of Enlightenment.
And in Paris, a gentle, wide-eyed stranger was all the rage.
In 1826, a twelve-foot giraffe, captured in the Sudan, shipped down the Nile, carried across the Mediterranean in a ship's hold, was now walking across France. A gift from Muhammed Ali, the most powerful man in Africa, this "beautiful stranger" would become an object of adoration in France. But in this compelling, beautifully rendered book, Michael Allin looks beyond the fairy tale to reveal the complex web of politics, culture, religion, and greed that fueled the phenomenon of the giraffe called "Zarafa."
Opening an exotic window on the early nineteenth century, brilliantly capturing what it is like to see something for the very first time, Zarafa weaves a captivating tale of nations and nature, of colorful scoundrels and dangerous rulers and of a remarkable animal that charmed a nation, bribed a leader, and brought two very different worlds together.
"This endearing work will appeal to all animal lovers, and also to those interested in the confluences of natural and human history." Publishers Weekly
"[P]rovides a glimpse of a time period not commonly written about." Library Journal
"Zarafa is all about the vanishing pleasure of wonderment...as seen through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed the arrival of the first giraffe in France in 1826." Detroit Free Press
"Michael Allin does a terrific job of chronicling the giraffe's remarkable pilgrimage from Egypt to Paris." New York Times Book Review
"The book is a collage of gorgeous facts, a parade of facts joined together by a mysterious animal and a lively, curious writer." Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review
"[Allin's] book...not only rescues a charming anecdote from obscurity but also makes a convincing case for its importance in the world of 19th-century Mediterranean diplomacy." Washington Post Book world
"[A] fine caricature of European bureaucratic maneuvering in the early 19th century; and...a superb description of the sea's colors off Alexandria." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Michael Allin is the author of the highly acclaimed book Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris, and is also the screenwriter of the classic film, Enter the Dragon.