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Gold Rush in the Jungle: The Race to Discover and Defend the Rarest Animals of Vietnam's "Lost World" Hardcover – April 16, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1St Edition edition (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307407047
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307407047
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,436,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The jungles of Vietnam hold a treasury of rare and endangered species that have attracted the attention of scientists, smugglers, and poachers. Science writer Drollette traveled into the jungle for interviews and firsthand experience of the characters, human and animal, in the drama of preservation versus economic development. He details the labors of researchers and scientists, including a promising generation of young Vietnamese biologists and park rangers, to protect many rare and endangered species. The jungle is also the home of new species of plants and animals, including the half-goat/half-ox, the missing link between domestic cattle and their ancient wild forebears, and a close relative of the nearly extinct Javan rhino. Drollette explores why so many animal species have managed to survive in Vietnam through centuries of change, including what they call the American War, and the current challenges from ambitious zoologists looking to make their careers with discoveries of exotic new wildlife. Given its promise of biological treasure, Vietnam is at the forefront of efforts to balance preservation and economic development. --Vanessa Bush


Praise for Dan Drollette Jr.’s Gold Rush in the Jungle
“Gold Rush in the Jungle is a book of opposites, discovery vs. extinction, economic development vs. environmental devastation, and political oppression vs. biological preservation…Mr. Drollette explains with a highly readable page-turner, an exemplar of pop science writing.”
New York Journal of Books

“From elusive forest oxen to barking deer, Vietnam has seen a raft of newly discovered species emerge during the past decade. Almost as swiftly, the black market is bringing many close to extinction. Science journalist Dan Drollette Jr reveals the courage and ingenuity of researchers intent on preserving what wildlife they can. Drawing on years of visits to the country, his snapshots of these wildlife warriors — such as langur specialist Tilo Nadler — reveal approaches that could show the way for conservationists in other tight spots.”

“Dan Drollette takes readers on a back-of-the-motorcycle journey to one of the world’s last wild places. Gold Rush in the Jungle is an absorbing tale of adventure, discovery, and loss.”
 —Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker staff writer and author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe
“Almost all the endangered-wildlife stories we usually hear are from Africa, and so the one Dan Drollette tells was a new and intriguing one to me. Neither the heroes nor villains—nor animals—are what you would expect. And the entire little-known saga is shadowed by the aftermath of war. Hats off to Drollette for making this better known.”
—Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost

“These stories are almost too fraught with irony: in Vietnam, scene of the climactic ideological battle of the late 20th century, scientists find new species almost weekly—and poachers finish them off almost as quickly. There are so many lessons here, hard and beautiful both.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Earth and The End of Nature

“Dan Drollette Jr. has ventured into the jungles of Vietnam and returned with an important, deeply reported story about endangered creatures in one of the last places on earth. Gold Rush in the Jungle is a fascinating trip into uncharted territory.”
—Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La

“What a find — a fast-paced journey into Vietnam's culture and spectacular landscape, told through the high-stakes hunt for undiscovered and wondrous animal species before they vanish.  A carefully researched, important, and moving tale for all lovers of narrative nonfiction.”
—Jack El-Hai, author of The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness

“Charming prose peppered with science create a tapestry that transports the reader to far-away places where masses of humans destroy—and a few dedicated souls try to save—endangered wildlife. It’s well worth the reads.”
—George Archibald, founder of the International Crane Foundation and inaugural winner of the 2006 Indianapolis Prize

“[H]eartfelt and emotional, using Drollette’s personal and incredible experiences in Vietnam (and a few other places) to depict the biological ‘gold rush’ that has swept the war-torn nation…Drollette’s firsthand accounts of…a country synonymous with war in American thought is haunting. By what moved me quite literally to tears was his honest and gut-wrenching descriptions of the people that give everything they have to protect the rare wonders of our world that are so quickly slipping out of existence. People that go into science, especially conservation biology, usually do so from a very passionate place, and…Drollette has exposed that so beautifully. There is more to the book than that, of course…It is at times hilarious, and at other times disturbing. One thing is for sure, it is a hard book to put down….a gem amongst conservation books.”
Discover Magazine

“[S]ome brave scientists are dedicated to protecting [endangered creatures], and veteran science journalist Drollette ably details both the poetic and the practical reasons to defend such lost worlds and their bizarre residents.”
Publisher’s Weekly

More About the Author

Dan is an award-winning foreign correspondent who specializes in "adventure science," accompanying researchers into the field to explain their world. It's similar to what George Plimpton used to do for sports writing - when Plimpton wrote about football, for example, he spent a season on the team of the Detroit Lions. Dan does the same for science, whether in the jungle or in the bowels of the world's largest machine. His articles have appeared in Scientific American, International Wildlife, Natural History, Cosmos, and on the BBC. He's a TEDx speaker, and held a Fulbright to Australia. He worked for CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, as editor of an on-line weekly magazine, where his office was 100 yards away from the LHC's "injection point." If the machine was to cause any black holes, he would have been the first to know. There is a video on the making of the book on youtube, which is from a TEDxFulbright talk Dan did in Frankfurt, Germany. You can cut and paste it into your browser

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shannon on July 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is not a book I would have normally picked out from the bookstore; though I care about sustainable tourism, conservation work, and that side of travel, it just wouldn't occur to me that a narrative on conservation work would be interesting.

I was wrong.

I received a review copy of the book and the description intrigued me enough to say yes to reading it. The book billed itself as a journey into one of the last wild places on earth, and it really was all that. I finished the book in record time because I was really keen to follow the conservation work being done in some of the most remote areas of Vietnam, and more than that the story of the people and history that have shaped Vietnam into what it is today.

More than anything this book was readable.

He tempers his scientific background with a strong grasp of storytelling and wrote a book that makes a poetic case for conservation in an appealing way that doesn't shove an agenda, but rather outlines a lot of the really amazing work being done right now. And the heartbreak of extinction. And those animals on the brink.

You know, I had no idea that conservationists discovered several large mammal species in the past decade alone (and here's 10 species discovered in 2012 alone). We're talking large animals never before documented by science because they lived in no-man's-land on the edges of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Ironically, because this region's history of war and fighting, uncertain politics, and a lack of technological developments for a long time, the remote areas of Vietnam's wilderness flourished. In the past 20 years, however, animals are facing new threats as population growth moves into the more remote areas and as the international black market deals in these rare animals.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful book. VERY factual and very well written. A must for anyone interested in conservation of endangered species and also anyone interested in Vietnam. My travels have mirrored the author's.....he has written the book and I have shared my experiences on my blog, "Field Notes and Photos." Enjoy the photos, and please read the's fantastic. I picked up a used paperback copy and could not put it down. And I just ordered a new hardcover to keep in my library. Back to Vietnam next week to work with humanitarian medical teams from Vets With a Mission and in my free time I hope to visit Bach Ma National Park and The Son Tra Nature Preserve....lots of butterflies and langurs I have yet to see!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alex C. Telander on June 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
There is a secret in this world, a very important one that may disappear before we even know it was there. Vietnam is a nation filled with history and culture, but it is also a unique haven to some of the rarest animals on the planet; it is also one of the few places in this world where new species of fauna continue to be discovered. Gold Rush in the Jungle is the story of this most unique place.

Dan Drolette Jr. has been a quasi-naturalist; a nature and animal lover since he was a child, discovering a fascination and continuing with it throughout his life. He has written for publications such as Scientific American, Cosmos, Science, Boston Globe, and Natural History. His travels have taken him exploring and writing about flora and fauna as far and wide as Hawaii, Sweden, South Korea and Australia. Drolette Jr. first went to Vietnam in the late nineties and knew he had to return to study and write about his special place, which he did. Gold Rush in the Jungle is the culmination of all this work.

Vietnam's jungles have remained relatively untouched, going through a turbulent history and a devastating war; ironically this has led to a somewhat protected habitat for its many species and plans. It has held back development and the advancement of civilization into the jungles, allowing the many animals to live in peace and multiply. But since the nineties, things have gone quickly downhill. With the rapid growth in animal trophies, and the use of animal parts as widely disproven medicines in china, poaching has become a very big business.

Fortunately, there are those who are fighting against this, starting up conservation groups and protected places in Vietnam, as well as national parks, one created as long ago as the 1960s with Ho Chi Minh.
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