Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure That Took the Victorian World by Storm

Between Man and Beast An Unlikely Explorer the Evolution Debates and the African Adventure That Took the Victorian World by Storm The unbelievably riveting adventure of an unlikely young explorer who emerged from the jungles of Africa with evidence of a mysterious still mythical beast the gorilla only to stumble straight into t

  • Title: Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure That Took the Victorian World by Storm
  • Author: Monte Reel
  • ISBN: 9780385534222
  • Page: 177
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The unbelievably riveting adventure of an unlikely young explorer who emerged from the jungles of Africa with evidence of a mysterious, still mythical beast the gorilla only to stumble straight into the center of the biggest debate of the day Darwin s theory of evolution.In 1856 Paul Du Chaillu marched into the equatorial wilderness of West Africa determined to bag an aThe unbelievably riveting adventure of an unlikely young explorer who emerged from the jungles of Africa with evidence of a mysterious, still mythical beast the gorilla only to stumble straight into the center of the biggest debate of the day Darwin s theory of evolution.In 1856 Paul Du Chaillu marched into the equatorial wilderness of West Africa determined to bag an animal that, according to legend, was nothing short of a monster When he emerged three years later, the summation of his efforts only hinted at what he d experienced in one of the most dangerous regions on earth Armed with an astonishing collection of zoological specimens, Du Chaillu leapt from the physical challenges of the jungle straight into the center of the biggest issues of the time the evolution debate, racial discourse, the growth of Christian fundamentalism and helped push each to unprecedented intensities He experienced instant celebrity, but with that fame came whispers about his past, his credibility, and his very identity which would haunt the young man Grand in scope, immediate in detail, and propulsively readable, Between Man and Beast brilliantly combines Du Chaillu s personal journey with the epic tale of a world hovering on the sharp edge of transformation.

    One thought on “Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure That Took the Victorian World by Storm”

    1. I received this book as a bound review copy. This book—written in clear, captivating prose—was an absolute page turner. I’d never heard of Paul Du Chaillu but Monte Reel’s account not only succeeded at highlighting the era’s concern with racial and scientific issues—among which figured Darwinism—but also brought to life the story of the 19th century explorer. With crucial issues surrounding racial equality, the ancestry of man, and the treatment of animals, the account is as intere [...]

    2. thedailybeast/articlesBefore there was Jane Goodall, or even Tarzan and King Kong, the gorilla was a creature of mystery. The beast’s nomadic habits put it into only occasional contact with African villagers and next to no contact with Western missionaries and traders. So when Paul du Chaillu, the son of a French merchant, first laid eyes on a gorilla in 1856 on an expedition into the African wilderness, he was instantly mesmerized: “No one else, aside from a handful of native tribesmen, had [...]

    3. Ok, so maybe marching into the equatorial African forrest and gunning down as many gorillas as you can find does not constitute the height of scientific observation and achievement, but that is just how most explorer/naturalists rolled back in the 1850s. That being said, Monte Reel has framed a fabulous story of the bourgeoning scientific world's learning of a then mythic creature. It would be as if someone today went off in search of Bigfoot or the Yeti and found many of them. All of this takes [...]

    4. This is a work of non-fiction that covers man quest into the unknown, his exploring and discovering of a great beast. A white man had not traveled as far as our explorer in here across dangerous territory tribal controlled regions in remote areas of Gabon. The public, the critics at first did not believe in his discoveries but time would tell and all would eventually talk of his expeditions and cash in on the discoveries. The black and white movie King Kong has many of the explorers footsteps us [...]

    5. Great title, not so great book. Rating 3* out of 5. This is a fairly boring book about an explorer named Paul Du Chaillu who became the first white person to see the mythical gorilla in the mid 19th century. This came at about the same time that Darwin released his "The Origin of Species" and the evolutionary debate ran rampant. The gorilla was - incorrectly - concluded to be man's closest relative, based on comparing skeletons. Paul wrote a book which was received favorably, but then he questio [...]

    6. Indiana Jones, Allan Quartermain, Professor Challenger, Rick O'Connell. These are the names of men I grew up with. The names of men I admired. They came from film and literature. They were not real, but they represented that intuitive spirit of adventure deep within every human being: the testosterone producing, adrenaline pumping urge we have to shed the shackles of our domesticated 9-to-5 lives and step foot into the unknown regions of the world.With this book, I have found a REAL name to add [...]

    7. Between Man and Beast” illustrates how the seemingly disparate areas of biology, geography, religion and race all converged during the mid-19th century when explorer Paul du Chaillu travelled deep into the jungles of Africa to uncover evidence of a creature hitherto unseen by most of Victorian society: The Gorilla.Du Chaillu didn't have the formal training of his prestigious peers, but he eventually received the academic support necessary to lead an expedition to Gabon. While there, he crossed [...]

    8. This is what good nonfiction is all about! A well told story that brings the subject to life in an interesting and compelling way. It is the saga of nearly forgotten explorer Paul Du Chaillu who thrust the gorilla into the limelight - the greater public arena - for the first time with abundant specimens and detailed observations on their behavior.Du Chaillu emerged from obscurity to become the toast of the scientific community until petty jealousies, personal prejudices, and political agendas ca [...]

    9. In a time when the world seems to have shrunk and all corners are easily reached, when the bright light of science and technology seem to eliminate any dark shadows from our world, it is hard to imagine the mystery, anticipation, and indeed fear that surrounded the exploration of Darkest Africa. In the mid-eighteen hundreds most of the African continent was an unknown mystery to the people of Europe. It would be an age that spawned noted European explorers and scientists such as Stanley and Livi [...]

    10. I was fortunate to get an advance copy from the publisher and found it to be a wonderful read. I was intrigued to read this book from the start, especially as the cover made me think the about both the infancy of Darwinism & exploration of the time as well as a statement that perhaps man is not as in control of nature/life as he thinks. Paul Du Chaillu, an unfortunately largely forgotten today explorer of the Victorian Age, traveled into the wilds of Gabon to become one of the first outsider [...]

    11. I enjoyed this book that takes on the little known story of Paul Du Chaillu who is attributed for the popularity of “The Great White Hunter” and gorilla characters in the late 1800’s. I have studied biology and have read many mainstream primatology books. I will be adding this one to my collection. Many of the major characters described by Monte Reel (like Darwin, Huxley and Owen) are all men that are famously referenced in history and biology texts but I had never recalled mentions of Pau [...]

    12. I just devoured this reader-friendly book. 19th-century explorer and scientist Paul du Chaillu was never anyone that's been on my radar, unlike other African explorers like Burton, Speke, Livingstone or Stanley. He certainly deserves to be remembered, as much for his discoveries as for how he epitomized that era's attitudes toward nature, social status, race and scholarship. From the moment he stepped into history as a teenaged boy washed up on the banks of an African river in the 1840s, du Chai [...]

    13. A sound, thoughtful piece of reportage about a little known(anymore) explorer named Chaillou who was the first to track, capture and prove the existence the African lowland gorilla. He became a sensation in London and introduced Victorian society of the 1850s to this amazing creature, at the very time that Darwin's Origin of Species was setting the anthropological world ablaze with the theory of evolution.Reel nicely juxtaposes the roller coaster of Chaillou's adventures (becoming a success and [...]

    14. Monte Reel has crafted an informative and entertaining book about the discovery of the gorilla and its reception by the scientific community and the public in Europe and America.As one with an interest in the Victorian explorers and Africa, the name Du Chaillu was familiar to me, though I knew relatively little about the man himself. The explorer provided only sketchy information to his contemporaries during his lifetime (even the date and place of birth on his tombstone are incorrect) and Reel [...]

    15. If 5 stars means "It was amazing", well, yeah: it was amazing. It is 5" deep and a mile wide - following Paul du Chaillu's expeditions to Gabon where he found, hunted, preserved and described hundreds of flora and fauna unknown to the Western science. His story has many tangent lines veering off into discussions of: his scientific contemporaries, like Darwin, and Owen; how museums worked and how the natural sciences went from rich hobbyists to serious specialists; class and race (small spoiler: [...]

    16. I had the pleasure of receiving an advanced copy of “Between Man and Beast” from the publisher…I must emphasize the word pleasure!This book was a thrilling, informative read that captured me from page one. To use a quote from the book referencing its subject’s own body of work…”To quote everything that is interesting in this volume would be tantamount to a reprint of the entire volume.”I was amazed at the author’s ability to fill the story with so much information while simultane [...]

    17. The parts of the book that deal with adventurer in equatorial Africa and hunting gorilla are wonderful. Reel's mixture of narrative storytelling and information gleaned from primary documents make for a riveting history. The middle part of the book, where explorer/"discoverer" of the gorilla Paul Du Chaillu goes from darling to pariah amongst the London intellectual social set, is less engaging. There are some interesting facts about the reception of Darwinism and London's first lending library [...]

    18. I didn't love this book. I found parts of it interesting, but I found Paul du Chaillu to be less than engaging. When I first read it I found all the additional side trips distracting. It felt to me like the research for this book didn't turn up a strong enough story and so it just be came a collection of anecdotes. After having discussed the book at my history book club I am less bothered by the disjointed nature of the book. Once I started thinking about it as more of a history of a time and pl [...]

    19. Amazing!I haven't read a book this breathtaking in a long time. It takes you back to the time when there were still large areas of wilderness unexplored by modern society. While there are some parts that made me cringe, especially when reminded about 19th-century attitudes on race, the reality checks allow readers to dive in to a bygone era without completely being enveloped with distorting nostalgia. It also allows for an appreciation of scientific data as a liberating truth. All in all, I reco [...]

    20. Recently I read 'Lost City Of Z' and 'Between Man and Beast' is well wriiten sister to 'Lost City of Z'. Set mainly in West Afirca, Congo US and London. I think I missed my time. So glad to write about the discovering of gorillas and exploring western Africa. So much was happening in mid 19th century Londn, the gorilla was front and center. The read is treated with the advent of Darwiism in England, enlightening my American knowledge. For those who love travel, history, adventure and science thi [...]

    21. I'd looked forward to reading this for a long time. Less anthropology and primatology than I expected, but the cultural history was engaging. The most interesting thing, really, was how the idea of the gorilla infiltrated an array of subject-areas in the mid- to late-nineteenth century: race politics, the Other, the human-animal relationship, literature, and emerging theories of evolution (Abraham Lincoln, Arthur Conan Doyle, P.T Barnum, Thackeray, Charles Darwin).

    22. Searching for what was once no more than a mythical beast, an explorer fights not only jungles and governments, but class bias, religious fundamentalists and shady impresarios but eventually does find and bring to the world the gorilla. Reads like Candice Millard or David Grann, taking me right into the mind-set and cultural melange of the 19th century. Highly recommended.

    23. When I first read about Monte Reel’s Between Man and Beast: A Tale of Exploration and Evolution (in the synopsis for the giveaway), I immediately realized how the biography of an African explorer might contribute to my teaching of Victorian literature. Last semester I introduced students to the biopic Creation prior to assigning excerpts from Darwin’s Origin of Species. In the film, Darwin recounts his relationship with a gentle orangutan, named Jenny. Her human keepers had attempted to “ [...]

    24. Monte Reel's Between Man and Beast, like all truly great non-fiction, strikes a marvelous balance between the informative, the fascinating, the gossipy, and the absurd. Set in the midst of Victorian England's scientific community, this book tells the tall of a spritely little Frenchman, an assortment of bickering and petty intellectuals, and the unfortunate continent of Africa they all decided to explore, all in pursuit of the most noble of the great apes, the gorilla. Combining tales of superhu [...]

    25. Like the other reviewers, I also thought that this is what an excellent work on Non Fiction should read likewonderfully written and researched and a joy to read. The book is essentially about Paul Du Chaillu, an up and coming explorer whose exploits happen to coincide with the evolutionary debates taking place in Victorian England, especially those that surround Darwin's theories of evolution versus transmutation. The book serves to remind this reader that the so-called discovery of various anim [...]

    26. Absolutely brilliant, makes you question the Darwinian theory in ways you often might’ve looked over previously. Opens you to Chaillu’s struggles and how far the scientific community will go to eradicate their competition. It also hints at racism and or their issues in the community and makes you ponder upon a lot. The only problem I had was it was more focused on Chaillu’s life so for someone who might not have read about the Darwinian theory or a little about Owen I suppose this isn’t [...]

    27. This book is fun. There are elements of the story that get briefly touched on but then sort of disappointingly disappear (Lincoln's role in the story, details of the debate about Darwin which mostly get handled off-screen) but the description of the "gorilla madness" in London is fascinating and the story of Paul has enough ups and downs to make it seem like the myth that Paul, in the end, wanted it to be. Makes me want to look more into this subject.And for some reason, I think this would make [...]

    28. Details the adventures of African explorer, Paul Du Chaillu, who brought the first gorilla skin to Victorian England. The gorillas sparked debates and led to a string of cultural history connections. The connections span from P.T. Barnum, Abraham Lincoln, Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Darwin. The beginning starts off strong but eventually the story drags out and loses pacing. This book merges together African culture, history and gorillas. More adventure and less Victorian politics would have p [...]

    29. In under 300 pages, Monte Reel manages to weave together a biography of Paul du Chaillu with the broader story of how notions of Darwinism and race transfixed and transformed Victorian society. A man who preferred his own history to be shrouded in ambiguity, du Chaillu fairly leaps off the page thanks to Reel's evocative -- but never overwrought -- narrative.

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