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The Snow Leopard Project: And Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation Hardcover – Illustrated, January 22, 2019

4.6 out of 5 stars 60 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


Captivating....With clarity and a bit of awe, Dehgan describes Afghanistan's geological past and its 'dramatic and largely unappreciated biodiversity'....He leaves readers with an optimistic message that, in any sphere of life, effective collaboration toward common goals can benefit everyone.―Publishers Weekly

The Snow Leopard Project is a richly detailed chronicle of Alex Dehgan's often-harrowing journey through Afghanistan to help save stunningly beautiful parts of a war-torn land. Dehgan is a brave and intrepid traveler, and he takes readers into his adventures with unique wildlife in one of the planet's most remote landscapes. His improbable journey, rendered with grace and insight, is a must-read for anyone who craves adventure and is curious about the world beyond our borders.―
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan

Saving snow leopards and opening a national park in a warzone sounds crazy, but that's just what Alex Dehgan set out to do in Afghanistan. This is a remarkable story of courage, humor, and tenacity---and making peace where the politicians have failed. Dehgan brought people together through an unexpected common purpose-protecting one of the world's most exquisite endangered animals.―
Christina Lamb, O.B.E., chief foreign correspondent, The Sunday Times, co-author of I Am Malala and The Sewing Circle of Herat

In The Snow Leopard Project, Alex Dehgan shows us that the biological Silk Road-with its Marco Polo sheep, show leopards, and ibex-is as unique and diverse as the cultural Silk Road. He takes us into the heart of war-torn Afghanistan on a mission to survery the biodiversity, to set aside national parks, and to investigate the illegal wildlife trade. This book engages the reader from the very beginning, with a gripping, fast-paced set of adventure stories and a moral imperative. It should be required reading for anyone interested in conservation.―
Patricia Wright, conservationist and founder of the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments, Stonybrook University, MacArthur Genius Award-winner

An eye-opening account of what it takes to protect wildlife under improbable conditions. Dehgan's zeal for conservation, passion for humanitarian outreach, and admiration for the Afghan people spring from every page.―

[An] intriguing, detailed, frequently unnerving account... The author vividly describes the rugged lands he and his crew encountered... Dehgan's lessons provide a sort of textbook on the frustrations and complexities of working on conservation in a place where science runs into the snarls of politics and diplomacy-and often loses―
Kirkus Reviews

"Less a book about research than about the trials, triumphs and occasional absurdity of building a conservation programme in extreme circumstances."―

The Snow Leopard Project illuminates a vital area of science - and a country filled with natural and cultural beauty. I was captivated by Dehgan's writing, chapter by chapter."―NationalPublic Radio

"A stunning true story about efforts to protect these endangered cats and other rare species while also helping to defend the human culture around them-and strengthening the bond between people and nature in the process."―

"This compelling look at conservation efforts in a war-torn country is a must-read for anyone interested in attempts to stem the loss of biodiversity."

About the Author

Alex Dehgan is the founder and CEO of Conservation X Labs, which is focused on transforming the field of conservation through technological and financial innovation. Previously, he was USAID's first chief scientist in twenty years, and ensured that USAID became the global leader on employing science, technology, and creativity to help solve development challenges.

Prior to his tenure at USAID, he worked at the Department of State on science diplomacy under Ambassador Dennis Ross, and later under Ambassador Holbrooke and the Office of the Special Representative to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was the William Rainey Harper Fellow for the Biological Sciences Division at the University of Chicago, and was granted a Searle Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship among twenty-one other awards, fellowships, and grants he has received during the tenure of his career. He currently teaches at Duke University. He has worked and traveled in almost ninety countries across five continents.
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ PublicAffairs; 1st edition (January 22, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1610396952
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1610396950
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.14 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.5 x 1.13 x 9.63 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 60 ratings

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Dr. Alex Dehgan has worked on wildlife conservation and foreign policy in settings as diverse as Saddam Hussein's poolhouse in Iraq while under fire, in the western reaches of the Himalayans in post-conflict Afghanistan, the leech and predator-filled rainforests of southeastern Madagascar, Central & South America, the chaos of the collapsing halls of the Kremlin, former Soviet weapons labs in Central Asia, and the conservative and staid halls of the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History. As a scientist, he has had the opportunity to work on an equally diversity of subjects ranging from predicting species extinction in lemurs, interspecies heart transplants, links between infectious diseases and forest fragmentation, and addressing development challenges around the world. He is now using his scientific acumen to rebuild ecosystems destroyed by man, and human societies destroyed by politics and war.

Alex Dehgan is the CEO & co-founder of Conservation X Labs, an innovation and technology startup focused on conservation, where he is working to transform conservation. Under Alex’s leadership, Conservation X Labs has developed new technologies, launched the first set of Grand Challenges for Conservation on aquaculture, water, cooling technology, and fungal pathogens, developed the first mass collaboration & engineering platform for new sustainability solutions, and ran the first conservation technology accelerator. Alex is the Chanler Innovator in Residence at Duke University where he teaches technology innovation for addressing the sustainable development goals.

Dr. Alex Dehgan recently served as the Chief Scientist at the U.S. Agency for International Development, with rank of Assistant Administrator, founded and headed the Office of Science and Technology, and created the vision for and helped launch the Global Development Lab, the Agency’s DARPA for Development. As the Agency’s first chief scientist in two decades, Dr. Dehgan implemented the President Obama’s promise to restore science and technology to its rightful place within USAID. Alex was the architect of a number of new Agency institutions, including the Grand Challenges for Development program, Agency partnerships with universities (HESN) and federal science agencies (PEER), the independent office of science and technology (OST), the position of the Agency geographer and the GeoCenter, and data for development programs, and the Global Development Lab. In less than four years, Alex built OST from scratch to an 80-person office, a $100 M dollar research program, and leveraged or raised $500 million dollars from other donors and partners. Alex was also part of the founding team for the Policy, Planning, and Learning Bureau (PPL). Alex rebuilt technical capabilities in the Agency by putting scientists, physicians, and engineers directly into USAID missions and technical bureaus, and led efforts for the Agency’s research policy and first ever scientific integrity policy.

Prior to coming to USAID, Alex worked in multiple positions at the Department of State, including the Policy Planning Staff, the Office of the Secretary, the Office of the Science Adviser (STAS), and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. At State, Alex developed political and science diplomacy strategies towards addressing our most challenging foreign policy issues in Iran, Iraq, and the greater Islamic world, including helping initiating the Obama Administration’s diplomatic efforts with Iran through science diplomacy working with Amb. Dennis Ross, and serving as a liaison to the late Amb. Richard Holbrooke.

Alex Dehgan was also the founding Afghanistan Country Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Afghanistan Biodiversity Conservation Program. Through his leadership, WCS led efforts to create Afghanistan’s first national park, conducted the first comprehensive biological surveys of the country in 30 years, helped develop Afghanistan’s biodiversity conservation laws and policies, and curtailed illegal wildlife trade on US and ISAF military bases. Alex the author of the forthcoming book, The Snow Leopard Project, through Public Affairs, describing this effort.

Dr. Dehgan holds a Ph.D and M.Sc. from The University of Chicago’s Committee on Evolutionary Biology, where he focused on extinction and adaptation of 12 lemur species during environmental change in tropical forests in Madagascar. He also holds a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings, and a B.S. from Duke University. He was chosen as an “Icon of Science” by Seed Magazine in 2005, received the World Technology Award for Policy in 2011, and has been recognized through multiple awards from the Departments of State and Defense, and USAID. In 2013, AAAS selected Alex as one of its 40@40 fellows out of 2,600 AAAS Science Policy Fellows as “an individual who has made exemplary dedication to applying science to serve society, was creative, innovative, and collaborative problem solvers in addressing global challenges, and was an uncommon ambassador for the role of science and technology.”

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top reviews from other countries

Kim F
4.0 out of 5 stars Emphasis on warzone adventures
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on July 29, 2019
antonio antonucci
5.0 out of 5 stars Bellissimo racconto
Reviewed in Italy 🇮🇹 on December 11, 2019