- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Walker Books; First Edition edition (August 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802713394
- ISBN-13: 978-0802713391
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 21 x 213.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 61 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,049,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story, from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris Hardcover – August 1, 1998
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Zarafa was a gentle 19th-century giraffe, a simple animal whose life was dictated by the tumultuous times around her. From the African savanna where she was caught and tamed as an infant, Zarafa was shipped down the Nile--along with the meat of her mother and several hundred human slaves--to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. From there she sailed on to France, a gift from Muhammad Ali, the "Renaissance Barbarian" viceroy of Egypt, intended to distract King Charles X while Egyptian forces invaded Greece. As political ploy, it didn't work. But as ambassador from an exotic land, this odd animal captivated the French people for almost two decades, as she lived out her life as part of the royal menagerie.
Michael Allin intertwines natural history with a brutal chapter in the history of civilization, augmenting the clarity of both. This story of one docile animal contrasts sharply with those of the human profiteers, warmongers, and interlopers who ultimately decide her fate. But Zarafa's otherworldly charm also helps us to understand the intrigue that led Napoleon to bring not only his troops, but a small army of European intellectuals to study all aspects of Egyptian culture and history, in the invasion that sets up her story. --Lauran Cole Warner
From Publishers Weekly
The baby giraffe was captured in the highlands of Ethiopia and taken to Khartoum. She sailed down the Nile to Alexandria and across the Mediterranean to Marseilles, where she wintered. In April 1827, Zarafa started a 550-mile walk to Paris. She was accompanied by her Nubian handler, three milk cows, two Mouflon sheep, an antelope and one of the foremost scientists of the time, Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire. Zarafa was a gift to Charles X from the Ottoman viceroy to Egypt, Muhammad Ali, who wanted to forge a link with France. The gift was masterminded by Bernardino Dravetti, French consul, personal adviser to the viceroy and the first wholesale tomb robber of modern Egyptology. After 41 days on the road, Zarafa and her party arrived to a triumphant welcome in Paris, where she remained a star at the Jardin des Plantes for the next 18 years. In his first book, Allin spins an enchanting story of Zarafa's journey through the Gallic countryside?the first giraffe in France drew crowds everywhere (30,000 in Lyons). To place the animal's odyssey in perspective, he provides a richly textured background of historical detail, starting with Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 and his "corps des savants," who were stranded there for three years. This endearing work will appeal to all animal lovers, and also to those interested in the confluences of natural and human history. Thirty drawings, maps and images not seen by PW. BOMC, QPB and History Book Club selections; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
Its the story of the grace and gentleness of animals, and the cruelty and barabarism of humans. It's the story of Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, brilliant strategies against vicious desert warrior tribes, lost naval battles, and magnificent discoveries in a land where the great Pharoahs had been forgotten and mummies were burned for stove fuel. And it's the story of patching up broken relations between the East and West with a giraffe -- Zarafa -- The Lovely One.
I started this book as a simple afternoon read. Next thing I know, my child is asking me to read it aloud. Next day we find ourselves at the zoo because he's never seen a giraffe. Next day we find ourselves at the museum looking at mummies. Then we're at the library looking for more about Napoleon. This little book has lit a fire in the heart of my 10-year-old son!
I highly recommend it if you like to read down rabbit trails. Like a trek along a country road, you come across interesting things along the way.