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Book review of Dr. Richard Carroll’s The Emperor and the Elephants

From idealistic, but on-the-ground realism of a twenty-something Peace Corps volunteer, to the added context of experienced hindsight, Dr. Richard Carroll’s The Emperor and the Elephants provides fascinating reflections on his many years in Central Africa working for conservation, wildlife, and protected area development and management.  With challenges of language, remoteness, cultural differences, and the political machinations outside the gambit of any conservation worker, the history of Central African environmental protection is highlighted by heroic efforts of local and foreign advocates.  Dr. Carroll’s prose brings out the beauty – raw and up-close – of these efforts and this place.  I was fortunate to be able to work with Richard in the 2000s in Gabon, not too far from where he worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central African Republic.  His analysis and descriptions were as valid for me during my Peace Corps and WWF years, as they were for him decades earlier.  I highly recommend The Emperor and the Elephants for its clear-eyed, yet passionate and hopeful, call to understand the world and the conservation imperative of working with local advocates to protect important landscapes and wildlife.

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