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Zoo History book - The Founding of London Zoo

Discussion in 'TV, Movies, Books about Zoos & Wildlife' started by Crowthorne, 27 May 2016.

  1. Crowthorne

    Crowthorne Well-Known Member

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  2. devilfish

    devilfish Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for pointing this out - I've pre-ordered my copy. :)
     
  3. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Thanks for drawing this forthcoming publication to my attention; I will definitely purchase a copy.

    There have been many books written about London Zoo, though, so I wonder if the author of this book has anything new to contribute to an often told story.
     
  4. Bib Fortuna

    Bib Fortuna Well-Known Member

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    Very Good News-and the price is cheap for such a big book. Hopefully it will be full of historic photos.
     
  5. Pacu

    Pacu Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. I agree that a lot has already been written but much of it has been for / by the zoo itself. I'd rather it had been written by an historian than a tv journalist, though.
     
  6. Nisha

    Nisha Well-Known Member

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  7. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    This book went on sale today; I purchased a copy on my way home this evening.

    I'll post more detailed comments, in due course, once I've had the opportunity to study the book more thoroughly.

    My initial reaction, though, is that the way the story is told from the perspective of seven different individuals makes it more interesting than simply relating events in chronological sequence.

    In response to the point made by "Bib Fortuna":-
    There are no photographs reproduced in this book.
     
  8. Pacu

    Pacu Well-Known Member

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    My pre-ordered copy (£16.99) arrived yesterday and I have already seen it on offer for £5.99 which is not a good start! A quick look suggests it is more like historical fiction than history, which is disappointing. The lack of any photographs is a bit of a shock but I like the idea of a non-institutional history, so we shall see...
     
  9. Pacu

    Pacu Well-Known Member

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  10. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    I saw a copy for £15.99 in the remaindered bookshop near South Kensington station today.
     
  11. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    This book covers the first quarter-of-a-century of the Zoological Society’s existence; no photographs were taken in the zoo during this period so it could be argued that any photos would be an anachronism....
     
  12. Pacu

    Pacu Well-Known Member

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    Fair point, I hadn't yet realised that it was just about the first 25 years but there are pictures that could be reproduced and surely there are photographs of some of the people?
     
  13. NigeW

    NigeW Well-Known Member

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    My copy arrived this morning. Its a very interesting concept and dipping in at a few random points suggests its going to be an interesting and entertaining read. Certainly not your traditional history book though; and that's not a criticism.
     
  14. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others; recounting the history of the Zoological Society’s first quarter-of-a-century from the perspective of seven different individuals made it interesting to read.

    However, anybody wanting an authoritative account of the Zoological Society’s first twenty five years would be better advised to read the relevant chapters of the following books:-

    A Record of Progress of the Zoological Society of London During the Nineteenth Century (1901)

    The Zoological Society of London: a Sketch of its Foundation and Development,and the Story of its Farm, Museum, Gardens, Menagerie and Library (Henry Scherren; 1905)

    • A Centenary History of the Zoological Society of London (Peter Chalmers Mitchell; 1929)
     
  15. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    I have just read this book, and thought it pretty good - the author's decision to relate "real" events in the manner of a novel is an unusual one, and usually works very well. The less well known characters on whom she focuses - the keeper, Devereux Fuller, and the surgeon, Charles Spooner - come alive, even if much of what I said written is conjecture. Definitely worth reading!
     
  16. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    As I mentioned in an earlier post, I enjoyed this book too.

    However, I am becoming increasingly irritated by the painting that decorates the book’s dust jacket.

    I thought it a rather attractive picture (and depicting a quagga on the cover is appropriate and certainly pleased me). Nevertheless, with a little more attention to detail and the choice of more suitable species, the cover painting could have been better. Perhaps I am being too critical and pedantic but since the book covers the period 1826 to 1851 why feature species on the cover that were not in the collection during those years?

    The only rhinoceros species at London Zoo during the period covered by the book was Indian rhino yet the cover painting depicts a white rhinoceros (at least it looks like a white rhino to me) even though the zoo didn't acquire its first white rhino until 1955 more than a century after the period covered by the book.
     
  17. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    Yes! I too was irritated by the rhino, and by the picture in general. I think the book deserves something better.

    I know not all will agree, but the more I ponder it, the more I think I like the way in which Charman chooses to attach what is, essentially, a novel to 'real' events and 'real' people. It's not quite up there with Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall (which did the same thing with Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII) - but it is good!
     
  18. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    I agree, Tim. I find it irritating that the marketing people often seem to ignore the author. Some book covers look attractive, but have little to do with the contents. I remember Anthony Smith's paperback 'Animals on View'. There was a koala on the cover, even though no British zoos had koalas at the time. A book about European fish included a lionfish (Pterois Volans) on the cover. Mad did a book called 'Madvertising' and included misleading covers. One book showed an attractive mermaid sitting on a rock. The tagline was something like, "Come closer and I'll tell you about The Low Life". In small letters was added, "Find out about sea anemones, sponges and other forms of low life." A genuine book about seashore life had a chapter called 'Boring Animals', which should have been renamed. I also had a science magazine, which included the article, "Are statistics vital?" A previous owner had added, "No. Only vital statistics".