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Mowat, Farley.

Toronto, McClelland & Stewart. 1987. 380pp, cloth. $24.95. ISBN 0-7710-6677-5. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Adele M. Fasick

Volume 16 Number 2
1988 March

News of Dian Fossey's murder in her camp in Rwanda in 1985 shocked the public who knew her through the media as a gentle woman who had devoted almost twenty years of her life to the study of gorillas in the wild. Farley Mowat's book reveals some of the complexities of a life spent trying to protect animals from the ravages of humans-African poachers, foreign zoo keepers and international tourists.

Fossey had little formal training when she began her studies under the auspices of Louis Leakey and the National Geographic Society. She became the first person to observe in intimate detail the social life of gorillas, and her work eventually won her a PhD and a secure place in the scientific world. But Fossey's scientific studies were always secondary to her desire to preserve the gorillas from extinction, a passion that led her into controversies with African authorities, her funding agencies and some of the people who worked with her.

Mowat draws on Fossey's journals and letters to construct a heart-rending account of the struggles Fossey endured. Her prickly disposition and explosive anger made her formidable, but they scarcely explain the virulence with which some people turned against her. The last third of the book becomes a monotonous litany of intrigues, disappointments and inexplicable betrayals. This account is a fine introduction to Fossey's work, but it whets the appetite for a more definitive book that would include the views of colleagues and others who knew her.

Adele M. Fasick, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
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