Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Five best books about animals, domesticated and otherwise

Janet Malcolm's most recent book is Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial.

She named five top books about animals, domesticated and otherwise, for the Wall Street Journal. One title on the list:
Born Free
by Joy Adamson (1960)

The relationship between Joy and George Adamson and Elsa the lioness is as improbable as the relationship between Rose Bavistock and Omar the bandersnatch. But "Born Free" is not a fantasy—the book's photographs support its status as nonfiction. They show the 300-pound animal romping, cuddling and trustfully sleeping with her owners for all the world like a member of the species Felis catus rather than of Panthera leo. George Adamson, the senior game warden of a wildlife preserve in Kenya, came upon three motherless newborn lion cubs and brought them back to camp to nurse with diluted canned milk in improvised baby bottles. The cubs survived, and two were eventually sent to a zoo. Elsa, the runt of the litter, remained with the Adamsons, becoming an incomparably charming and affectionate pet. The latter part of the book is devoted to the Adamsons' efforts to teach Elsa to be a wild lioness and to release her into her native habitat. The reader is left wondering whether this painful—on both sides—separation for the sake of a notion about what is "natural" was such a good idea.
Read about another book on the list.

Born Free is one of Lauren St. John's top ten animal stories.

--Marshal Zeringue