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African Silences
Cover of African Silences
African Silences
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African Silences is a powerful and sobering account of the cataclysmic depredation of the African landscape and its wildlife. 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.

Through his eyes we see elephants, white rhinos, gorillas, and other endangered creatures of the wild. We share the drama of the journeys themselves, including a hazardous crossing of the continent in a light plane. And along the way, we learn of the human lives oppressed by bankrupt political regimes and economies, and threatened by the slow ecological catastrophe to which they have only begun to awaken.

African Silences is a powerful and sobering account of the cataclysmic depredation of the African landscape and its wildlife. 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.

Through his eyes we see elephants, white rhinos, gorillas, and other endangered creatures of the wild. We share the drama of the journeys themselves, including a hazardous crossing of the continent in a light plane. And along the way, we learn of the human lives oppressed by bankrupt political regimes and economies, and threatened by the slow ecological catastrophe to which they have only begun to awaken.

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About the Author-
  • Peter Matthiessen was born in New York City in 1927 and had already begun his writing career by the time he graduated from Yale University in 1950. The following year, he was a founder of The Paris Review. Besides At Play in the Fields of the Lord, which was nominated for the National Book Award, he published six other works of fiction, including Far Tortuga and Killing Mister Watson. Matthiessen's parallel career as a naturalist and explorer resulted in numerous widely acclaimed books of nonfiction, among them The Tree Where Man Was Born, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and The Snow Leopard, which won it. Matthiessen died in 2014.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 1, 1991
    With this account of his two journeys to Africa, in 1978 and 1986, Matthiessen ( The Snow Leopard ) offers his readers a superb vicarious experience. He went first to West Africa--Senegal, Gambia and Ivory Coast--to find out which and how many animals survived in the national parks. The object of the later trip, on which he was joined by David Western of the New York Zoological Society, was to survey the Congo Basin--Central African Republic, Gabon, Zaire--for signs of the small forest elephant and perhaps solve the mystery of the so-called pygmy elephant (they prove to be simply juveniles of the forest species). In a single-engine plane piloted by Western, they traveled over vast areas of uncharted forest, using the rivers as landmarks. Matthiessen introduces us to wildlife biologists in remote stations, to native guides and to families of Mbuti pygmies. He describes ravaged lands and untouched forests, noting that virtually the entire rain forest of Central Africa has been sold. Wildlife is scarce. A dazzling, if dismaying report.

  • Washington Post Book World

    "Deeply gripping... with a prose of characteristic grace and perfectly distilled passion."

  • Boston Globe "Matthiessen is a great travel companion ..... His knowledge of plants,animals and people is breathtaking."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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African Silences
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Peter Matthiessen
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