THE GREAT SAFARI by Adrian House


The Lives of George and Joy Adamson, Famous for Born Free
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 A biography of Joy and George Adamson (of Born Free fame) that proves a scholarly, earnest adjunct to Caroline Cass's Joy Adamson (p. 905). Quoting extensively from George's diaries, House (Joy's British editor) creates a portrait of a man bent on an ``obstinate pursuit of freedom, for himself, for others, and above all for animals.'' House contends that George, unlike Joy, always wrote the truth. His childhood in India, we learn, was followed by boarding school in England and then a move to Kenya. After failing at a number of enterprises, George achieved his great ambition in 1938 by being appointed as a game warden in Kenya's isolated Northern Frontier District, where later he'd rear his lions. House also describes briefly Joy's unhappy childhood in Austria; her first, disastrous love affair; the marriage that led her to visit Kenya and meet her second husband, botanist Peter Bally; her success as an artist in recording Kenyan flora; and her fatal meeting with George. From this point on, House becomes more expansive, detailing the tribulations of a never-easy marriage; Joy's numerous infidelities; the arrival of Elsa, the lion cub that finally gave Joy a focus for her energies, emotions, and intelligence; the books the Adamsons coauthored; the making of the movie version of Born Free; the couple's increasing estrangement; and their tragic deaths by murder. Though House never ignores Joy's often scurrilous behavior and destructive tantrums, he's at pains to recognize her great qualities--her love of animals, her recognition of the need to conserve them, and her generosity to the conservation movement- -and to make clear that she was a woman of ``vision, energy, tenacity, courage and skill as an artist and a photographer.'' Not as colorful as the Cass, but very sound--and notable for its well-rounded portrait of George, on whom the whole phenomenon of Elsa depended from the beginning. (Eight pages color, 24 pages b&w photographs)

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-10141-0
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993