A former reporter for "The Washington Post," Reel is the author of the critically acclaimed "The Last of the Tribe."
"The gorilla's very existence suggested--at just the time Charles Darwin was also suggesting--heretical ideas about the origin and nature of mankind. And the man chiefly responsible for bringing this animal to worldwide attention was Paul Du Chaillu, the central character and driving riddle of Monte Reel's...tale of scientific buccaneering...Intriguing...Rattles along with fine, wacky momentum""--"The New York Times Book Review "Engrossing....would go great with popcorn.....addresses big topics--evolution, abolition--but they remain in service of the narrative, providing context for colorful conflict."--Wall Street Journal "Using extensive historical research, Reel brings alive this expedition and a later one and describes what happened between the two journeys....sense of urgency compels the reader onward to find out what happened....Arresting"--The Washington Post "Gripping....Intellectually satisfying....Exciting"--Salon "A lively and intriguing biography of the restless adventurer who first sees, studies and takes specimens of gorillas....thoroughly engrossing."--Minneapolis Star Tribune "Entertaining and provocative story of the life and adventures of explorer Paul Du Chaillu....[Reel] does a superb job of telling the engrossing story of Du Chaillu and tying it into the events and thoughts of the time, from the intense debate over racial differences in light of the theory of evolution to the habit of Abraham Lincoln's political enemies of referring to him as a 'gorilla'....scrupulous in adhering to the facts....At the same time, it has the narrative flow and evocative language of a fine historical novel."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch "A supremely entertaining, enlightening and memorable read."--Nature "Reel paints each chapter of du Chaillu's life as a vivid scene worthy of the silver screen. They range in scope from the perilous adventures taking place within the jungles of Gabon to the equally tense academic battles waged by British high society. They are all rich with detail, dialogue and atmosphere thanks to the immense work Reel has put forth in researching du Chaillu's life. At times, the mind staggers to recall that this story is a work of nonfiction."--San Antonio Express "An admirable book for those who like epic tales of exploration.... Fascinating.... highlights once again the big issues that seem endlessly interesting to new generations of Americans, 'the evolution debate, racial discourse, the growth of Christian fundamentalism' in careful historical context and with a fine hand for thoughtful exposition."--The Buffalo News "Retelling his adventures opens a wonderful window, both magical and alarming, into what he [Paul Du Chaillu] saw and, ultimately, into who we are."--The Free Lance-Star "Reel provides a robust intellectual history by embedding Du Chaillu's story within the debate over evolution, the relationship among the human races, the rise of Christian fundamentalism, and the nasty backbiting that was common in the scientific arena of the time. He expertly probes the history of the enigmatic Du Chaillu, someone who purposefully shrouded his past from scrutiny....In Reel's hands, Du Chaillu's adventures in Africa, including his discovery of Pygmies and his part in a smallpox epidemic, were no less harrowing than his interactions with many of the world's leading scientists and explorers." --Publishers Weekly "You'd half expect a Bela Lugosi mad scientist or a Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan to pop up in this Victorian-era drama, which travels from the London of Darwin and Dickens to unexplored Africa to Civil War-ravaged America."--New York Post's Required Reading "Before there was Jane Goodall, or even Tarzan and "King Kong, "the gorilla was a creature of mystery....Reel retraces his life and work with the spirit of curiosity and adventure that drove du Chaillu in the first place. What results is a celebration of accomplishments too far-reaching to be understood in their time."--The Daily Beast "Adventure, history, nature, big ideas--what more could you want?"--Library Journal "Fascinating....A lively footnote to the debate between science and religion and the exploration of the African jungle in the Victorian era."--Kirkus Reviews "Those unfamiliar with [Paul Du Chaillu] would do well to pick up a copy of "Between Man and Beast," Monte Reel's new book about Du Chaillu's life and adventures in pursuit of this fierce creature... Although Du Chaillu's checkered life story is the bedrock of this book, Reel builds upon it fascinating sketches of England's leading intellectuals, explorers and freelance eccentrics of the day, detailing not only their personal achievements but their professional jealousies as well."--Book Page "Monte Reel's BETWEEN MAN AND BEAST contains all the elements of an enthralling adventure story. But it is more than just a riveting tale; it is also a brilliant exploration of ideas that illuminate the very nature of humankind."--David Grann, "New York Times" bestselling author of THE LOST CITY OF Z and THE DEVIL AND SHERLOCK HOLMES "From the moment explorer Paul du Chaillu had his first, fleeting glimpse of a gorilla, human understanding of this extraordinary animal began to change in a fundamental, irrevocable way. Reel tells du Chaillu's story--a fascinating, wide-ranging tale that involves everyone from Charles Darwin to Thomas Huxley to even Abraham Lincoln--with a vividness that brings long forgotten events to startling life." --Candice Millard, "New York Times" bestselling author of DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC and THE RIVER OF DOUBT ""Between Man and Beast" is a rip-snorting adventure story, shot through with intrigue and absorbing intellectual history. Monte Reel is a wonderful writer, and he makes an expert guide to Paul Du Chaillu's groundbreaking travels in the wilds of Africa and his equally treacherous journey through the scientific salons of 19th century London. By weaving Du Chaillu's pursuit of the gorilla with the debate over evolution, Reel has given us a true 'missing link' that connects exploration, science, and literature. Readers will embrace Du Chaillu and root for him every step of the way/"-- Mitchell Zuckoff, "New York Times" bestselling author of LOST IN SHANGRI-LA "Monte Reel has revived not only a lost world and a forgotten adventurer but a misunderstood monster. While dissecting the complex motives of the first foreigner to set eyes on a gorilla--at the time believed to be humanity's closest relative--Reel plunges us into the vicious controversy his discovery unleashes in the urban jungle of London in the age of Darwin and Huxley. In so doing, Reel has not only produced a page-turner filled with surprising details, connections and insights, but he has also forged the missing link between the perennially contentious Theory of Evolution and our equally durable fascination with King Kong."--John Vaillant, bestselling author of THE TIGER "Part swashbuckling jungle story, part gaslit Victorian time capsule, Monte Reel's visceral, captivating book restores a forgotten hero to his rightful place in history."--Benjamin Wallace, author of the "New York Times Bestseller" THE BILLIONAIRE'S VINEGAR "Monte Reel's BETWEEN MAN AND BEAST is a provocative, entertaining, and original adventure narrative."- Laurence Bergreen, "New York Times" bestselling author of OVER THE EDGE OF THE WORLD and COLUMBUS: THE FOUR VOYAGES
In 1856, explorer and amateur naturalist Paul du Chaillu undertook a treacherous expedition through West Africa, after which he brought back to England the first known specimens of the African gorilla ever seen there. Reel (The Last of the Tribe: The Epic Quest To Save a Lone Man in the Amazon) examines the colorful life and times of du Chaillu. He ably depicts how du Chaillu's hugely popular expedition chronicle, Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa, and his unnervingly humanlike preserved gorilla specimens ignited a storm of interest and controversy in the scientific circles of Victorian England. While Reel clearly admires his subject, he is also willing to address and evaluate du Chaillu's errors and exaggerations; he presents a balanced portrait of the enigmatic explorer, effectively combining du Chaillu's life story with related historical context on scientific debates about evolution. His detailed depiction of du Chaillu's detractors occasionally slows the narrative. Today's readers may find du Chaillu's penchant for killing gorillas repugnant, although he followed the standard scientific practice of the time. VERDICT Best suited to general readers interested in African exploration, gorillas, or the history of science in the Victorian age. They may also be interested in du Chaillu's original best seller, as well as Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, thought to be partially inspired by du Chaillu's adventures.-Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reel paints a vivid picture of Paul Du Chaillu, a fascinating figure involved in the exploration of Africa, debates about race, and the study of evolution in the 19th century. Though he's not as well-known as Charles Darwin, Du Chaillu's exploration and recovery of ape skeletons and bodies influenced Darwin's evolutionary theories. Bob Walter narrates in a deep, raspy voice that lends atmosphere to sections of the book covering Du Chaillu's expeditions, using timing and tone to create an intense listening experience. Throughout, Walter's narration is smooth and involved. And when reading quotations, he doesn't create unnecessarily elaborate voices, instead giving listeners understated but distinguishable male and female vocalizations. A Doubleday hardcover. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.