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The roots of heaven Hardcover – 1973


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Hardcover, 1973
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Text: English, French (translation)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 373 pages
  • Publisher: White Lion Publishers (1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0856178926
  • ISBN-13: 978-0856178924
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,851,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on March 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
[L]et's speak a little about symbols. We may as well, as there has hardly been a critic who has not referred to The Roots of Heaven as a symbolic novel. I can only state firmly and rather hopelessly that it is nothing of the sort. It has been said that my elephants are really symbols of freedom, of African independence. Or that they are the last individuals threatened with extinction in our collective, mechanized, totalitarian society. Or that these almost mythical beasts evoke in this atheistical age an infinitely bigger and more powerful Presence. Or, then again, that they are an allegory of mankind itself menaced with nuclear extinction. There is almost no limit to what you can make an elephant stand for, but if the image of this lovable pachyderm thus becomes for each of us a sort of Rorschach test--which was exactly my intention--this does not make him in the least symbolic. It only goes to prove that each of us carries in his soul and mind a different notion of what is essential to our survival, a different longing and a personal interpretation, in the largest sense, of what life preservation is about. -Romain Gary, Author's Introduction to the 1964 Time-Life Books version of The Roots of Heaven
It is one of the peculiarities of great literature, that having created it, the author sometimes loses control of it. Thus, Don Quijote, the first and greatest novel of Western Literature, may have been intended by Cervantes to be a devastating parody of the chivalric tales, but instead of making us scoff at the Don's antiquated ideas, the book gave us the quintessential romantic idealist hero.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Man's struggle for a meaningful existence takes place on three different levels in this wonderfully told tale set in pre 1960 Africa. The first level is the aftermath of world war two with humanity trying to reaffirm its right to exist. Second, is Africa's awakening during the 50's and its rapidly approaching fight for independence from its colonial powers, and third is man's attempt to become at one with nature and thus fill the spiritual void within itself. The images are vivid and varied going back and forth from the rubble laden city of Berlin where a young lady sells herself to the Russian soldiers, to the dusty villages in Africa where mere youths are taking up arms to kill men since they can no longer kill elephants, to the POW camps of WWII, to the Catholic missions deep in the jungles where priests ponder the likelihood of there being a just God. This book does much more than scream the necessity of saving nature for future generations, it pleads for all of! us to develop more fully our personal relationships both real and spiritual.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book was made into an indifferent and much altered movie in the late 50's. Set in Equatorial Africa after the Second World War it follows the efforts of the Frenchman Morel to save the elephant from extinction at the hands of poachers and big game hunters.
What sets this book apart is that in the course of relating the story of the African herds, Gary presents the reader with every moral dilemma faced by man today. This makes for a spiritually and intellectually uplifting read, as if Gary has somehow tapped into a force both beyond and mightier than himself. One is swept along on whole passages, each of which seems more significant than the last.
Also of interest is the coming of age of Gary's views on conservation, many of which must have seemed ludicrous to the 1950's reader. Likewise the politics of Africa are discussed with brutal honesty. "When the African has his belly full" one character tells us, "perhaps then he too will take an interest in the aesthetic aspect of the elephant."
The Roots of Heaven has for years been my all time favorite novel. I believe it to be a book of cosmic significance, an experience of the Numinous with the potential to change lives. Over the last two decades I have urged many others to read it but, sadly, have had no success at all. Such a pity!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Alice Duncan on February 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I recently reread this book, wondering if I'd love it as much as I did before. I did. This is my very favorite book in the entire world. It's a picture of humanity, and the picture isn't necessarily a happy one. Still, it almost gives one hope that all isn't lost quite yet. Well, maybe not ...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
a hundred years ago i saw the movie--moved me then--and to this day--it still moves me--mans inhumanity to man and to the other species with this instance of course being the elephant--i wonder about the "roots" really reaching to earth from above--and while it was written some 50 years ago--and the "itches" of man were somewhat different then--pain and futility--still exist there--only the billboards change--
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