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Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer and the African Adventure the Victorian World by Storm [Kindle Edition]

Monte Reel
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In 1856, Paul Du Chaillu ventured into the African jungle in search of a mythic beast, the gorilla. After wild encounters with vicious cannibals, deadly snakes, and tribal kings, Du Chaillu emerged with 20 preserved gorilla skins—two of which were stuffed and brought on tour—and walked smack dab into the biggest scientific debate of the time: Darwin's theory of evolution. Quickly, Du Chaillu's trophies went from objects of wonder to key pieces in an all-out intellectual war. With a wide range of characters, including Abraham Lincoln, Arthur Conan Doyle, P.T Barnum, Thackeray, and of course, Charles Darwin, this is a one of a kind book about a singular moment in history.

Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2013: When Paul Du Chaillu set out to bag the gorilla in the name of science (and as a shortcut to academic credibility), it was still the quasi-mythical njena of the Western imagination: a savage, bloodthirsty beast deep in the forests of equatorial Africa, seen only by the tribes that dwelled within. He got his animal--he got many, by way of his rifle--but when he eventually made his way to England, he and his stuffed specimens became unlikely pawns at the center of the burgeoning debate over evolution in the wake of Darwin’s insurgent hypothesis. While jealous explorers questioned his bona fides and jaded scientists glibly dismissed his methods and observations, Du Chaillu's reputation as a death-defying killer of monsters granted him celebrity status, lifting the often bewildered hero to rarified levels of London society. With the unlikeliest of heroes at its center, Between Man and Beast is a fast-paced and fun blend of adventure and history. --Jon Foro


“Monte Reel's BETWEEN MAN AND BEAST contains all the elements of an enthralling adventure story. But it is more than just a riveting tale; it is also a brilliant exploration of ideas that illuminate the very nature of humankind.”--David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of THE LOST CITY OF Z and THE DEVIL AND SHERLOCK HOLMES

“Intriguing. . . . Rattles along with fine, wacky momentum.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Gripping. . . . Intellectually satisfying. . . . Exciting.”—Salon

“A celebration of accomplishments too far-reaching to be understood in their time.”—The Daily Beast

“Thoroughly engrossing.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“[An] entertaining and provocative story . . . it has the narrative flow and evocative language of a fine historical novel.”—The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“[A] sense of urgency compels the reader onward to find out what happened. . . . Arresting.”—Washington Post

“Engrossing . . . would go great with popcorn. . . . Addresses big topics—evolution, abolition—but they remain in service of the narrative, providing context for colorful conflict.”—Wall Street Journal

“A robust intellectual history. . . . In Reel's hands, Du Chaillu's adventures in Africa, including his discovery of Pygmies and his part in a smallpox epidemic, were no less harrowing than his interactions with many of the world's leading scientists and explorers.” —Publishers Weekly

“Those unfamiliar with [Paul Du Chaillu] would do well to pick up a copy of Between Man and Beast, Monte Reel's new book about Du Chaillu's life and adventures in pursuit of this fierce creature.”—Book Page

“Adventure, history, nature, big ideas—what more could you want?”—Library Journal
“Fascinating. . . . A lively footnote to the debate between science and religion and the exploration of the African jungle in the Victorian era.”—Kirkus Reviews

“You'd half expect a Bela Lugosi mad scientist or a Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan to pop up in this Victorian-era drama, which travels from the London of Darwin and Dickens to unexplored Africa to Civil War-ravaged America.”—New York Post

“A supremely entertaining, enlightening and memorable read.”—Nature

“An admirable book for those who like epic tales of exploration. . . . Fascinating.”—The Buffalo News

“Retelling his adventures opens a wonderful window, both magical and alarming, into what he [Paul Du Chaillu] saw and, ultimately, into who we are.”—The Free Lance-Star
“Swift, clever, well-researched and provocative. . . . Reel skillfully shifts our attention from continent to continent, from past to present, until the story's tributaries merge and rush toward the conclusion.”—The Plain Dealer

“A vivid scene worthy of the silver screen. . . . From the perilous adventures to the equally tense academic battles waged by British high society. . . . At times, the mind staggers to recall that this story is a work of nonfiction.”—San Antonio-Express New

Product Details

  • File Size: 5027 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (March 12, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00985E180
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,145 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It rips, it snorts, it informs and entertains January 31, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Terrific popular history, this. Like a great many others, I suspect, I had never hear of Paul Du Chaillu prior to picking this up. This could be due to my spotty education, though it is more so (I flatter myself) that Du Chaillu seems virtually unknown today, at least in his adopted US. Mores the pity, but it does point out the hole to be filled by this very entertaining and enjoyable volume about this explorer /adventurer who gave the outside world it first glimpse of the mysterious beast, the gorilla.

Shrouded in myth and mystery, when Du Chaillu set out from the coast of Gabon to search the interior of equitorial Africa in 1856, gorillas had rarely, if ever, been so much as glimpsed by anyone other than local tribes who tended to steer clear of them and fabulate incredible stories to help explain why they did. When Du Chaillu emerged with their bodies and presented them to the outside world he set off a storm of celebrity, controversy and consternation. And this is where the story really takes off.

Well researched and extensively noted, Reel's book is not an academic history or a full-fledged biography, though it is likely as close to the latter as we are likely to get since Du Chaillu's origins are both poorly documented and, for reasons that become clear, he did a wonderful job of keeping them hidden during his lifetime. But it is also more than a jolly-good yarn, too. Reel does a fine job of putting the man, his acts and actions, into historical context, where he and his gorillas stepped out of "darkest" Africa right into the middle of the initial controversies over evolution and "man's relationship to beast".

But it is, too, a jolly-good yarn and an absorbing read. If I might have liked to delve a little deeper here and there, well, that's why there are OTHER books on the era and the histories of science, thought and exploration. This is written for a popular audience and it delivers. Very much recommended.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than a Simple Biography January 31, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The main theme of this book is the biography of Paul du Chaillu, who is credited as being the first white man to see, kill and capture a gorilla. Were that the end, the story would be a mere twenty pages. There is much more to the story and Mr. Reel captures it.

Du Chaillu was one of the explorers of the Victorian Age who were worshiped in theory, but not in practice. With echoes of today's world, it seemed the scientific community and the public loved to pump these explorers up and then relish in trashing and destroying them. Du Chaillu returned from Gabon having explored areas of Africa never seen by white men before. He brought back skins and skulls of gorillas, samples of hundreds of other birds and animals never before seen as well as stuffed gorillas. Since he was young and inexperienced, he did not have the scientific proof necessary in some people's eyes. Therefore they tore him down accusing him of never traveling inland and fabricating his stories of bravery. A second trip, taken after he learned his scientific lessons, vindicated him and his reputation was resurrected.

The story is bigger than that, however. Our hero's travels occurred at the same time that Darwin's evolution theory was being spread. The gorilla played right into the burgeoning vitriolic debate between evolutionists and creationists (as they are now known). The storm enveloped du Chaillu's finds and the debates often turned personal. Thus, the discovery of the gorilla developed into much bigger questions such as: Was the gorilla man's previous step in evolution? Was the gorilla half a step below blacks?

Mr. Reel's account is very readable. He does well integrating the biography of an interesting yet forgotten historical character into the times and scientific debates of the times.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Social Adventures in Evolutionary Theory February 28, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In the last year or so I've been struggling to broaden my literary tastes by dabbling in nonfiction. Authors like Monte Reel make me forget that I am reading historical accounts because the characters are very much alive and real. I wrongly assumed that this book might be a dry dictation singularly about Paul Du Chaillu. Instead, Reel weaves a tapestry, introducing us to historical figures who we would likely never have heard of but were frequently quite renowned in their heyday.

"Between Man and Beast" exceeded my hopes for all that nonfiction can be. I felt more than a passing interest in the topic, I was genuinely engaged. I gained a much greater understanding of the era and the people and was even made to laugh by their antics more than 150 years later. The vibrant passion, curiosity, and dedication demonstrated by so many people all brought to life by Reel's exceptional storytelling make this one a book not to miss.

Why couldn't all of my history lessons have been so fascinating?
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science Made Riveting March 14, 2013
What is in actuality the biography of 19th century naturalist Paul Du Chaillu (whose discovery of the gorilla has, in the wake of Darwin's more famous contributions to science, been somewhat obscured by history) was presented here in the format of a best selling page turner. Albeit, this can be credited with far more substance. The Victorian surge in the study of the material world has always been a source of fascination for me, and while there have been many lively resources on the topic, it is usually in fiction where my tastes for science and adventure are satiated. What makes 'Between Man and beast' incomparable to most works of its genre is the pains this extremely talented author takes not to tell us with the enumeration of facts, but to show us in elegant detail, to richly recreates those lives that would be intertwined by a remarkable skull in the jungles of Africa.

We are there along with Du Chaillu, experiencing his defeats as he struggles for acknowledgement in the scientific community, as those ongoing debates of race, religion and evolution are brought into the fray. Even his very credibility is called into question. It is taken for granted what this great man of science paved the way for, yet the explorer whom time has neglected is finally given fair credit here. It is not often a work of non-fiction can achieve its goal of establishing something beyond a passing interest in the subject matter, but this one is sure to spark the imagination and light a fire of curiosity long after the final page is read. An excellent book, and the best I have had the pleasure of reading this year.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Published 25 days ago by J. Montoto
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
well written. an remarkable account of the determination of a man from such dismal beginnings!
Published 1 month ago by Peter Sarubbi
2.0 out of 5 stars Contains many interesting anecdotes, but very fragmented
43 chapter are divided into three parts that cover a range of Victorian era explorations in West Africa by Paul Du Chaillu and his speaking engagements in England. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kent Price
4.0 out of 5 stars The correlation of the killing of the gorilla and the horrible...
An interesting account of early African exploration. The collection of gorilla "specimens" to study. At the same time Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dorothea Bin
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining. Only wish it was longer because of ...
Very entertaining. Only wish it was longer because of the interesting characters.
Published 3 months ago by mary patricia smith
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Wonderful story and well written. Interesting.
Published 3 months ago by Mommus
5.0 out of 5 stars great
great book
Published 4 months ago by Charles H. Stevens
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fascinating book. Well worth reading.
Published 4 months ago by J. Satler
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
This is the story of European discovery of gorillas, and some of the main characters involved. Darwin and other contemporaries feature in the plot line, along with the whole... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Chessie
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended.
Fascinating book, well researched and gripping reading. Highly recommended.
Published 5 months ago by Marc Lerner
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