The Black Rhinos of Namibia
- Source:California Bookwatch. Nov, 2012
- Subject Terms:
- Document Type:Book review
Booklist Reviews 2012 July #1
Bass, a geologist turned celebrated writer, channels his knowledge of and concern for the planet into works of rhapsodic precision, cosmic imagination, and moral inquiry. He has devoted books to grizzlies, caribou, and wolves and now chronicles his encounters with the imperiled black rhino in Namibia, where a stalwart band of wildlife conservationists, including reformed poachers, endure walloping heat and assorted hazards to protect these ancient and powerful animals. Bass is in a "state of perpetual wonder" as he traverses the quartz-bejeweled Namib Desert and witnesses the surprising grace and dignified fierceness of this mighty animal that has been hunted to near extinction for its horns. Scenes of astonishment and suspense alternate with meditative reflections as Bass marvels at how perfectly adapted the black rhino is to this exacting land and how terribly vulnerable it is to men with guns and no understanding of the species' true value. As Bass contemplates humanity's disruption of the intricate workings of nature, the tough choices conservationists must make, and how the rhino changes our perception of time, he questions our definitions of "sacred." Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2012 March #2
Actually grey-brown with white overtones, the Black Rhinoceros is divided into four subspecies, three critically endangered and one declared extinct in November 2011. Bass, a nature writer of exceptional force and sensitivity, visits the subspecies that lives primarily in Africa's dry southwest.[Page 93]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2012 June #2
Novelist and memoirist Bass (Why I Came West) records his travels to Namibia to "witness... a ponderous beast out upon such a naked and seemingly unsupporting landscape." At Damaraland, in the Namib Desert, Bass encounters activist Mike Hearn of the Save the Rhino Trust. Throughout the book, Bass renders an affectionate portrait of Hearn and his life's work defending rhinos. No actual rhino appears until more than halfway through, when searches culminate in two perilous and riveting encounters. Later, Bass travels from Damaraland to the tamer and popular Etosha National Park. While the rhino's plight, and efforts to ensure its recovery, are given considerable attention, Bass's time in the desert, among its animals and vastness, focuses him on "the big questions": the origin of life, the rhino's miraculous adaptation to the desert's austerity, and what humanity can learn from the magnificent animal. Time in the desert also yields touching meditations on time itself—its nature, and our experience of it. To describe the desert, another protagonist, Bass must examine the nature of perception: "The barren land unscrolls before us as if being created by the very act of our seeing." On occasion, Bass struggles to infuse the ruminations with poetry; his prose, packed with similes and comparisons, can be cumbersome. Agent: Robert Datilla, the Phoenix Literary Agency. (Aug.)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC