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The Black Rhinos of Namibia: Searching for Survivors in the African Desert Hardcover – August 7, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547055218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547055213
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A well-known nature writer travels to the Namib Desert, ‘one of the oldest unchanged landscapes on earth’ . . . an exciting adventure."
Kirkus

About the Author

RICK BASS’s fiction has received O. Henry Awards, numerous Pushcart Prizes, awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. Most recently, his memoir Why I Came West was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.


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Customer Reviews

It's not a bad book, but it seems to me that it's just not that authoritative.
Neal Reynolds
The Black Rhinos of Namibia: Searching for Survivors in the African Desert by Rick Bass can't be the best book on rhinos out there.
E. Borgman
I guess my main criticism would be that the book never decided what it was going to be.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Hyman VINE VOICE on July 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book chronicles a visit the author takes to a remote portion of Africa, in order to see black rhinos. The population had once dropped close to extinction, victims of horn hunting and caught in the cross hairs of wars, but through efforts of conservationists are slowly recovering despite ongoing poaching and habitat destruction.

The author has a curious writing style - it is very lyrical, and at times that makes reading the book beautiful, and at other times it almost gets in the way, as if the language, slowly dripping from each paragraph like a condensing dew within some remote cave, twisting around thoughts of nature, biology and religion, somehow take us away from the immediacy of the experience, and render it more internal, more ethereal, and almost distant. In short, I would have preferred a bit more facts and less philosophizing. What was the history of the area? What was the biological evolution of the Rhino?

At the same time, the writing is quite pretty, and more importantly, conveys a real sense of beauty in the area of Africa. I found the description of the feeling of the landscape to be more moving in many ways than the descriptions of the animals themselves, although the overall plight of environmental destruction is quite chilling. The author ties in a similar struggle with extinction of the bears in Montana where he lives, and in a way I also wish he circled back more to their situation as well.

Overall, a good and moving naturelogue dealing an important topic of how humankind is wreaking havoc on the world, and the quiet and complex beauty of nature. I would have liked a bit more science, a bit more fact, a little more follow up, but still quite a good read.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Namibia. Former German South-West Africa. A big, arid country, with few people, almost half of them living within 50 km of the Angolan border (or, at least that was the distribution in the early `80's.) It was Thomas Pynchon, of all people, who first introduced me to the country, involving the ultimate in euphemisms, the German "settlement" of it, in his masterpiece, Gravity's Rainbow (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition). As for Rick Bass, I picked up his book The New Wolves at the Nature Conservancy in Silver City, NM, read it, and thought it worthwhile in covering the efforts to re-introducing the grey wolf to the southwest. Finally, I was able to tour almost all of Namibia, including the Etosha Pan, in the early `80's, with a camper, when the country was still a South African "protectorate." So, when this book popped up on my Vine list, the confluence of the previous three antecedences quickly led to a "Please send."

Bass lives in northwestern Montana, and relates his fight to prevent the extinction of the local grizzle bear population to the similar fight to prevent the extinction of the black rhino in Namibia. Bass can wax eloquently about the starry desert nights, the sudden transitions from day to night, and the vastness of this largely uninhabited (in part, thanks to the above mentioned Germans) desert. Bass is a geologist by training, and has an eye both for the topography and the rock formations. The Etosha National Park, and "Damaraland," where the rhinos are primarily located, are in northwestern Namibia.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. Borgman on September 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Black Rhinos of Namibia: Searching for Survivors in the African Desert by Rick Bass can't be the best book on rhinos out there. I found it to be somewhat of a disappontment. Bass has a lot to say but not enough on rhinos and I found it disjointed and rather rambling. I hate giving bad reviews to books like this because so much work goes into writing but ultimately I didn't really care for the whole of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By vlawrence5 VINE VOICE on October 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The Black Rhinos of Namibia" appear infrequently and fleetingly in this rambling reminiscence of a sojourn the author made to a rather small part of that country several years before the appearance of this book. The disparity of many of its passages suggests their having been culled from a journal to fit on pages among recollections of numerous times and places. The work is so distinctly personal as to manifest the author's conversations with himself - the essence of any good journal. The reader is taken wherever the author has been and treated to his innermost thoughts there, regardless of their disjunct and inchoate state. The appraisal of the book one renders is highly dependent upon one's expectations, objectives, prejudices.

As a planner and leader of African wildlife safaris, I am concerned for the impression left on the reader who may aspire to see wildlife in Namibia or other African countries. The experience related by the author throughout much of the book requires considerable expense (or fortunate invitation) while offering rather long odds of realizing one's objective. In his Epilogue the author writes disparagingly of Etosha National Park where I've seen a black rhino with a young calf near a road when neither ran from the close encounter. Lodges in the heart of the park provide accommodation at reasonable cost, although I prefer Halali and Okaukuejo to Namutoni, the fort where the author and Dennis stayed. Park visitors are virtually assured of seeing far more wildlife by its roads and waterholes than by wandering the spaces of Damaraland. By all means experience the freedom of Namibia's vast open spaces, but to experience its black rhinos, do not eschew the 8,600 square mile "confines" of Etosha.
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