Gorillas in the Mist

Gorillas in the Mist

Book - 1983
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Although Dr. Fossey's work ended tragically with her murder, her book remains an enthralling testament to one of the longest field studies of primates, covering fifteen years in the lives of four gorilla families in Central Africa. Photos.
Publisher: Boston, Mass. : Houghton Mifflin, 1983.
ISBN: 9780395489284
Characteristics: xviii, 326 p., [80] p. of plates :,ill. ;,24 cm.


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Apr 28, 2018

Learning that Dian Fossey's first trip to Africa began with an unceremonious tumble down a slope, causing her to break an ankle and vomit all over a fossil that the famous Leakey's were extracting, was completely unexpected but such a humanizing anecdote for her to share.

I found that I immediately liked her.

I had no interest in gorillas when I picked up this book, but had read a quote from the book in a recent travel article that made me believe there would be some good writing in it. That proved to be the case. Ms. Fossey was a wonderful writer and there are some enchanting images described in her book.

Her descriptions of the gorillas are so vivid, you can almost see their playfulness, their courage, their fear.

The book held a certain poignancy for me, given how Ms. Fossey later died. But I found myself really captured by her book and read through it relatively quickly. She was a scientist, though, so there is a lot of scientific detail and plants are often named in Latin. Still, I did not find the science overwhelming.

At its heart, I found the book a compelling tale of a driven woman, passionate about her mission to learn about gorillas and save them, if she could. I would also add that I think it has become fashionable to question both Ms. Fossey's motiviations and her views on race. Before anyone labels her, they may wish to read her book.

To me, she came across as a brilliant, flawed human being who recognized the good in some people, regardless of race, but certainly did not in general hold a positive view of mankind.

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