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The Roots of Heaven

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"Well, I finally got an idea. When he fails, do like me: think about free elephant ride through Africa for hundreds and hundreds of wonderful animals that nothing could be built—either a wall or a fence of barbed wire—passing large open spaces and crush everything in its path, and destroying everything—while they live, nothing is able to stop them—what freedom and! And "Well, I finally got an idea. When he fails, do like me: think about free elephant ride through Africa for hundreds and hundreds of wonderful animals that nothing could be built—either a wall or a fence of barbed wire—passing large open spaces and crush everything in its path, and destroying everything—while they live, nothing is able to stop them—what freedom and! And even when they are no longer alive, who knows, perhaps continue to race elsewhere still free. So you begin to torment your claustrophobia, barbed wire, reinforced concrete, complete materialism imagine herds of elephants of freedom, follow them with his eyes never left them on their run and will see you soon feel better ... " For the novel The Roots of Heaven, Gary received the Prix Goncourt for fiction. Translated and republished in many countries around the world, the novel was finally published in Bulgarian. A film version by John Huston starring Juliette Gréco, Errol Flynn, and Howard Trevard was released in 1958.


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"Well, I finally got an idea. When he fails, do like me: think about free elephant ride through Africa for hundreds and hundreds of wonderful animals that nothing could be built—either a wall or a fence of barbed wire—passing large open spaces and crush everything in its path, and destroying everything—while they live, nothing is able to stop them—what freedom and! And "Well, I finally got an idea. When he fails, do like me: think about free elephant ride through Africa for hundreds and hundreds of wonderful animals that nothing could be built—either a wall or a fence of barbed wire—passing large open spaces and crush everything in its path, and destroying everything—while they live, nothing is able to stop them—what freedom and! And even when they are no longer alive, who knows, perhaps continue to race elsewhere still free. So you begin to torment your claustrophobia, barbed wire, reinforced concrete, complete materialism imagine herds of elephants of freedom, follow them with his eyes never left them on their run and will see you soon feel better ... " For the novel The Roots of Heaven, Gary received the Prix Goncourt for fiction. Translated and republished in many countries around the world, the novel was finally published in Bulgarian. A film version by John Huston starring Juliette Gréco, Errol Flynn, and Howard Trevard was released in 1958.

30 review for The Roots of Heaven

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Les Racines du ciel = The Roots of Heaven, Romain Gary The Roots of Heaven (French: Les Racines du ciel) is a 1956 novel by the Lithuanian-born French writer and WW II aviator, Romain Gary (born Roman Kacew). It received the Prix Goncourt for fiction and was translated in English in 1957. The Roots of Heaven, is the story of a crusading environmentalist, Morel, who labors to preserve elephants from extinction, but which narrative is actually a metaphor for the quest for salvation for all Les Racines du ciel = The Roots of Heaven, Romain Gary The Roots of Heaven (French: Les Racines du ciel) is a 1956 novel by the Lithuanian-born French writer and WW II aviator, Romain Gary (born Roman Kacew). It received the Prix Goncourt for fiction and was translated in English in 1957. The Roots of Heaven, is the story of a crusading environmentalist, Morel, who labors to preserve elephants from extinction, but which narrative is actually a metaphor for the quest for salvation for all humanity. He is assisted in the task by Minna, a nightclub hostess, and Forsythe, a disgraced British military officer seeking redemption. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه فوریه سال 1991 میلادی عنوان: ریشه های آسمان؛ نویسنده: رومن گاری؛ مترجم: سیلویا بجانیان؛ تهران، نشر علم، 1369، در 754 ص؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، نیماژ، 1394؛ در 600 ص؛ شابک: 9786003671713؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی سده 20 م عنوان: ریشه های آسمان؛ نویسنده: رومن گاری؛ مترجم: منوچهر عدنانی؛ تهران، ثالث، 1378، در 608 ص؛ شابک: 9646404758؛ چاپ سوم در سال 1392، در 571 ص؛ چاپ چهارم، 1393؛ شابک: 9789646404755؛ مورل مرد غمگینی است، که مدتی در اردوگاههای کار اجباری آلمانها، سختی کشیده؛ او تنهاست، بسیار تنها، و اکنون در آفریقا به سر میبرد. هدف او حمایت از فیلها ست، و دست به قیام میزند، و به یک یاغی مشهور در جهان، بدل میشود. عده ای میگویند: «او از انسانها بیزار است»، دیگرانی میگویند: «او به دنبال استقلال افریقاست» ..... اما مورل میگوید: «برای من تنها نجات فیلها مطرح است». در این میان، افرادی به او میپیوندند، انسانهای بی کس و تنها، تبهکاران فراری، طرفداران طبیعت، آنارشیستها ........؛ هر کس با ایده ی ویژه خود، به دور او گرد میایند، و خوانشگر از طریق همین جمع، با جبهه گیریهای مختلف اروپاییان، مسلمانان، و اعراب و ..... در آفریقا، آشنا میشوند. ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    The first environmentalist novel - or a sum total of the conundrum of la condition humaine? Morel travels in Africa in the middle of post-World War II chaos, with the sole mission of protecting elephants against two enemies: trophy hunters and local meat hunters. As he gathers followers and enemies, people start spinning webs of rumours around him. Surely, nobody dedicates a life to loving and saving NATURE? There must be something else behind it. Depending on personal standpoint, each individual The first environmentalist novel - or a sum total of the conundrum of la condition humaine? Morel travels in Africa in the middle of post-World War II chaos, with the sole mission of protecting elephants against two enemies: trophy hunters and local meat hunters. As he gathers followers and enemies, people start spinning webs of rumours around him. Surely, nobody dedicates a life to loving and saving NATURE? There must be something else behind it. Depending on personal standpoint, each individual who connects with Morel gives him another layer of interpretation or purpose. Is his love for elephants politically motivated? Does he support political independence in Africa? Is he looking for fame and glory? Has his time in a concentration camp driven him to complete and incurable misanthropy? Step by step, authorities and local rebels as well as international photographers and adventurers try to make Morel part of their own reality, and they try to rationalise a behaviour they can't understand. But Morel is one of those idealists who are happy to keep fighting for what they believe in, no matter how many obstacles they find. He genuinely believes in the worthiness of his cause, and that is incomprehensible to corrupted characters. Thus, Morel remains remote. His choices are challenged by professional whataboutists without him even raising an eyebrow. People starving somewhere else is not his cause. His cause is saving elephants. Other causes can't bring him to give up his own vision and mission. I think the world needs more Morels for all the lost causes nobody cares about because "it is not as bad as something else". Taking partial responsibility for nature is much more effective and valuable than loudly yelling: "What about ...?" Just like a mother does well to take care of her own children and dedicate her time to making sure they have a good childhood even while there are other children starving somewhere else, Morel continues to take care of his elephants while nations are struggling. Chapeau!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    Nature or man? This is one of the early works of Romain Gary, though written when the author was already in his fourties. Gary has a cosmopolitan background: born in Latvia, with Jewish-Russian-Polish roots, but raised in France and very engaged in the Second World War, and afterwards as a diplomat for France. This novel testifies to his capability to focus on the concept of human dignity in its existential context. The story is situated in what was formerly French Equatorial Africa, stretched Nature or man? This is one of the early works of Romain Gary, though written when the author was already in his fourties. Gary has a cosmopolitan background: born in Latvia, with Jewish-Russian-Polish roots, but raised in France and very engaged in the Second World War, and afterwards as a diplomat for France. This novel testifies to his capability to focus on the concept of human dignity in its existential context. The story is situated in what was formerly French Equatorial Africa, stretched between Congo-Brazzaville and Chad. And it focuses on the fight of a French idealist, Morel, against elephant hunters. The elephant is allegorical for human dignity that is threatened by Western modernity. This modernity now (the fifties of last century) also threatens Africa, by Gary presented as one of the last resorts where primordial nature can be found. Around protagonist Morel circulate a lot of other, engaging and ambiguous figures. Especially the black "évolué" Waïtari testifies to the prophetic talent of Gary. Morel also has a holocaust-related background, and - remarkably - that is the source of his ecological commitment. The story is built in very complex way with continuous changing narrators and time jumps, making it one of the most interesting novels of the twentieth century!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    Elephants are edible. Strangely, however, I have never taken part in the eating of one, whether as a direct participant or a mere spectator, I who have eaten dogs, bats, monitor lizards, birds, snakes, and other reptiles. Not even on TV, on that show by the bald American who says if it looks good, eat it. In fact, prior to this book, I didn't know that some people eat elephant meat. And after I was done reading, I still did not know what is elephant meat called, like pork is to pig. Morel. That's Elephants are edible. Strangely, however, I have never taken part in the eating of one, whether as a direct participant or a mere spectator, I who have eaten dogs, bats, monitor lizards, birds, snakes, and other reptiles. Not even on TV, on that show by the bald American who says if it looks good, eat it. In fact, prior to this book, I didn't know that some people eat elephant meat. And after I was done reading, I still did not know what is elephant meat called, like pork is to pig. Morel. That's that name of the Frenchman here. He had to be French because the author is French. Survivor of a Nazi death camp, he goes to Africa, wages a seemingly futile campaign, with his small band of misfits, to stop the wholesale killings of elephants. So many hunting, and haunting, images. But I had wished the author had done more research, and brought the elephants closer to my eyes. Not just them wailing, dying by the hundreds, machine-gunned en masse for their tusks. I would have liked, too, a more dramatic ending. Like Morel, escaping death in the hands of his tormentors, facing a stampede of a horde of these giant creatures, arms wide open like a crucified Christ, embracing his end with all his love. Thus, the missing star. So many haunting thoughts too. Do we make other living beings extinct because we are not human beings yet? Do we need them, need to be friends with them, so we can complete our evolution? When we save creatures like elephants from extinction do we save ourselves too? And is there any point at all in this when extinction is anyway a fate that is shared by all, including man himself? Morel says that all he wants is for elephants to be saved. But others read hidden motives in this. Maybe he's just using elephants as a symbol, a way to turn world opinion against Western colonial powers in Africa. And, indeed, which is more important, that the African nations be finally free, or that the elephants continue to roam their lands? One character here says that animals like the elephants hinder Africa's development and keep it poor. That people from the Western countries protest their wholesale killings and the sale of ivory only because they already enjoy the comforts of highly-developed societies and would want to keep Africa and its elephants only as some kind of a zoo. Are you a "nature lover"? Do you agree with the international ban on ivory trade? Do you somehow feel a kind of spiritual or metaphysical kinship with these marvelous pachyderms? Do you read novels like All Creatures Great and Small? If given a chance would you like to be a member of, or at least make contributions to, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? If you answer affirmatively and enthusiastically to the above then I'd like you to imagine one morning, when you wake up, you find your cars and all the other cars of your neighbors and fellow city-dwellers had become elephants; your well-paved streets and highways had become vast savannahs with their shrubberies and greens; the buildings had become giant trees; your concrete-and-glass house had become a grass hut, no more faucet and running water because your city reservoirs had become wonderful lakes and rivers, and for you to bathe inside your house you have to go to them, only a kilometer walk away, with your pails, to fetch water, avoiding areas where crocodiles hang out. So you, the nature lover, magically now has nature surrounding you. Would you not get your gun and begin shooting these damn elephants so you can get their precious ivory tusks, sell them, become rich, and live in New York?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maughn Gregory

    I found this novel at our town's library sale and it was one of my luckiest finds ever, because I didn't know the book or the author, it's been out of print a long time (published in 1956), and it's one of the best books I've read in years. The story is compelling: Holocaust survivor misfits campaigning to save the African elephant, first by petition and argumentation, then by selective violence, in Post-WW2 Chad, who are themselves exploited, hunted and/or aided by African nationalists, I found this novel at our town's library sale and it was one of my luckiest finds ever, because I didn't know the book or the author, it's been out of print a long time (published in 1956), and it's one of the best books I've read in years. The story is compelling: Holocaust survivor misfits campaigning to save the African elephant, first by petition and argumentation, then by selective violence, in Post-WW2 Chad, who are themselves exploited, hunted and/or aided by African nationalists, European colonialists, Christian pietists, and one American journalist. The characters are drawn with tremendous sympathy. The political, ethical and metaphysical arguments proffered by all sides are complex and moving. And the writing is remarkably subtle, beautiful and humane.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristel

    This is my second book by Romain Gary and I really enjoy his writing. This book, written in 1956, is a post war book that examines what it takes to survive. This is a tale of Morel, a French dentist that has come to French Equatorial Africa to campaign for the elephants which are in danger of extinction. This is shortly after WWII, colonialism is reaching its end in Africa and the people of Africa are seeking independence. We have various characters; missionaries, anthropologists, prostitutes, This is my second book by Romain Gary and I really enjoy his writing. This book, written in 1956, is a post war book that examines what it takes to survive. This is a tale of Morel, a French dentist that has come to French Equatorial Africa to campaign for the elephants which are in danger of extinction. This is shortly after WWII, colonialism is reaching its end in Africa and the people of Africa are seeking independence. We have various characters; missionaries, anthropologists, prostitutes, gun runners, hunters, deserters. Morel is considered crazy by most but he also rises to legendary status. He is hero, traitor, and dangerous and a tool to be used by others. Many questions arose for me while reading this book. Such questions as, do we have to sacrifice nature for development? If we love nature do we hate man? Those Africans seeking freedom, are they really seeking freedom or have they already been tainted by westernization. Are they sacrificing their own culture for westernization without realizing. I loved this book a lot. There are different voices that tell this story about Morel and his campaign for elephants. Here are some quotes I wrote down. "weight of memories which was oppressing him in his solitude" "move a little away from the flames in order to regain the company of the stars." "as for Morel...Everything has been said about him, 'a man who has gone even further into loneliness than othrs. "It seems the elephants Morel was trying to save were purely imaginary and symbolic, a parable as they say, and that the poor bastard was really defending the old human rights, the rights of man. "The years of isolation in the depths of the jungle have no power against the tenacious hope, and that a hundred acres of land at the height of the rainy season are easier to clear than are certain intimate nooks of our soul." "...,patience was ceasing to be a virtue and was becoming a luxury he could less and less afford." "Islam calls that 'the roots of heaven' and to the Mexican Indian it is the 'tree of life' -- the thing that makes both of them fall on their knees and raise their eyes and beat their tormented breasts. A need for protection and company, from which obstinate people like Morel try to escape by mean of petition, fight committees, by trying to take the protection of the species in their own hands." "our needs for justice, for freedom and dignity are roots of heaven that are deeply embedded in our hearts, but of heaven itself, men know nothing but the gripping roots." "when you live too long you end up knowing nobody" and "where there are elephants, there I go free" The book references that a nation must give up something of its nature for its freedom; for America it was the bison, for Russia-the wolves and for Africa, the elephant. Is that so, why does that have to be? It also mentions that a good news story (there is a lot about journalism in this book) will sell magazines such as a story about killing helpless turtles for turtle soup boost sales of the magazine but did it really effect the sale of turtle soup? So this story will appeal to each person on a personal basis. For some it is about animal rights, for others it is about dignity and for another it is colonialism. For me, it was about survival and I was most reminded of Man's Search for Meaning Viktor E. Frankl. Rating: 4.75. This rating is objective, my personal experience of this book after completing it and thinking about it is probably a 5.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Deb W

    I don't read books again, because there are just too many books I want to read and so little reading time that remains. This book, if I were to read a book again, it would be this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dree

    This book is excellent--intense, strong, upsetting, infuriating, and frustrating. First published in 1956, it looks at colonialism, nationalism, and traditional lifestyles in the context of French Equatorial Africa. This is all shaped around Morel, a Frenchman who has decided to defend the elephants and thinks hunting should be banned. (All hunting--traditional, for ivory, and big game for sport.) Waitari, a French-educated Oulé and nationalist, joins his cause to reach his own ends. The tribes, This book is excellent--intense, strong, upsetting, infuriating, and frustrating. First published in 1956, it looks at colonialism, nationalism, and traditional lifestyles in the context of French Equatorial Africa. This is all shaped around Morel, a Frenchman who has decided to defend the elephants and thinks hunting should be banned. (All hunting--traditional, for ivory, and big game for sport.) Waitari, a French-educated Oulé and nationalist, joins his cause to reach his own ends. The tribes, speaking only dialects, don't really know much about what's going on. England has already left Sudan, so the eastern frontier is open an undefended, with arms and nationalists going back and forth. The cast of characters here is long--French, Oulé, Arab, American, German, Sudanese, and more. Not an easy read, and not necessarily enjoyable. But a very very good read. And 60 years later, while some things have changed, others have changed in just the way Gary's characters said they would.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Louis-ferdinand Goffin

    Just finished what is my first reading of Romain Gary and ... wow !!! He captured me in only two pages and kept me until the very last word. A travel across space and time to The French colonies in Africa in the 50’s. A complex novel full of humanism, a front runner writing on ecology and African emancipation, a confluence of charismatic characters. If Ernest Hemingway and Robert Capa mean something to you, no only their respective works of art, but their lifes in their very fanciful aspect, Just finished what is my first reading of Romain Gary and ... wow !!! He captured me in only two pages and kept me until the very last word. A travel across space and time to The French colonies in Africa in the 50’s. A complex novel full of humanism, a front runner writing on ecology and African emancipation, a confluence of charismatic characters. If Ernest Hemingway and Robert Capa mean something to you, no only their respective works of art, but their lifes in their very fanciful aspect, then this novel is for you ! Enjoy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pip

    I loved this elegant exploration of the clash of cultures, the nuances of human interests and the depiction of post World War II Equatorial Africa. Morel is obsessed with the protection of elephants from the cruelty of traditional village hunters and the big game hunters from the West who kill for sport. His motivation is attributed to various things according to the viewpoint of those assessing him. Gary shows an acute understanding of human motivation as he depicts how various characters I loved this elegant exploration of the clash of cultures, the nuances of human interests and the depiction of post World War II Equatorial Africa. Morel is obsessed with the protection of elephants from the cruelty of traditional village hunters and the big game hunters from the West who kill for sport. His motivation is attributed to various things according to the viewpoint of those assessing him. Gary shows an acute understanding of human motivation as he depicts how various characters aspire to something beyond themselves or just try to survive he best way they can.

  11. 4 out of 5

    James

    "Ever since dawn the track had followed the hillside across a tangle of bamboos and elephant grass in which the horse and rides sometimes disappeared entirely; then the Jesuit's head would reappear above the yellow sea, with his big bony nose set above virile and smiling lips, and with those piercing eyes that carried in them far more suggestion of limitless horizons than of the pages of a breviary." Thus opens Romain Gary's brilliant novel of passion and freedom; the passion of a man, Morel, for "Ever since dawn the track had followed the hillside across a tangle of bamboos and elephant grass in which the horse and rides sometimes disappeared entirely; then the Jesuit's head would reappear above the yellow sea, with his big bony nose set above virile and smiling lips, and with those piercing eyes that carried in them far more suggestion of limitless horizons than of the pages of a breviary." Thus opens Romain Gary's brilliant novel of passion and freedom; the passion of a man, Morel, for the freedom of elephants in equatorial Africa, and the passion for freedom of the natives led by a charismatic leader, Waitari, but above all the land where their passions and dreams exist, a place of limitless horizons and a beauty that is captured in the supremely engaging prose of Romain Gary. At the heart of the story we find Morel and his passion for saving the elephants who are being killed by ivory hunters and tourists and the natives. The demonstration of his value of life lies at the heart of Gary’s novel. Its major expression can be found in the shape of African elephants as “life’s most beautiful and noble manifestations". The apparent theme of The Roots of Heaven is the protection of the African elephants; "Men are dying to preserve a certain splendor of life. Call it freedom, or dignity . . . They are dying to preserve a certain natural splendor." (p 60) Throughout the whole novel, the motive of the African elephant symbolizing freedom is perpetually instilled in the reader. For instance, Morel claims in his petition against elephant hunting, that it's "time to show that we are capable of preserving this gigantic, clumsy, natural splendour which still lives in our midst . . . that there is still room among us for such a freedom”. The idea is repeated in many variations. And it is supported by the wisdom of the old pathfinder Idriss who explains that “when elephants exist, there is freedom”. But it is also a kind of metaphor for the memory of the holocaust that less than a decade earlier had affected so many including Morel himself who had been interned in a Concentration Camp. He first dreams of an idea that has its roots in the utmost individual oppression while in solitary confinement: “Three and a half feet by five, so not a hope of lying down — there were moments when I felt like banging my head against the wall to try and get out into fresh air” This is central to Morel's being, yet the absolute materialism of the concrete cell disappears behind the image of elephants. With enemies on every side the elephants have no one to fight for them, that is until Morel takes up their cause and makes it his own. Midway through the novel Morel comments that "it was essential to attack the root of the problem, the protection of nature." Peer Qvist, one of several supporting characters that add depth to the story, responds, "Islam calls that 'the roots of heaven' and to the Mexican Indians it is the 'tree of life'--the thing that makes both of them fall on their knees and raise their eyes and beat their tormented breasts. . . Our needs--for justice, for freedom and dignity--are roots of heaven that are deeply embedded in our hearts, but of heaven itself men know nothing but the gripping roots . . ." (p 176) Morel was not alone, he attracted other outlaws like Korotoro, a famous robber, but he most impressed the leader of the Oules, called Waitari. At the same time Waitari was impressed he would disparage Morel calling him "a pathetic idealist". Waitari, like Kenyatta and other tribal leaders across Africa, was well-educated and full of passion to lead his people. He said, "I want our voice to be heard in Asia, in Soviet Russia, in America, even in France . . . I am not speaking to the Oules." (p 107) There is also the theme of political manipulation and the impact of public opinion. An American journalist and opinion maker, Ornando, represents all that is worst in that regard and, for better or worse, is of concern to the French colonial authority because he may sway American public opinion in favor of Morel. Throughout the novel characters and events reflect human nature. An undertone of nihilism surrounds the African nationalist movement while others try to hide the struggles for decolonization. Morel seems to exist beyond the petty bickering, in a sense his idealism and charisma makes him a larger than life character. Perhaps Morel's struggle and much of the meaning of the novel is summed up in this passage: "The fight to the death between men frustrated by a more and more enslaved or acquiescent existence, and the last and greatest live in image of liberty that still existed on earth, was being played our continuously day by day in the African forest. But whatever the difficulties he was facing, he refused to compromise: it was essential that man should shoulder on his difficult road a supplementary burden, encumber himself with the ancient giants." The Roots of Heaven demonstrates both the passion of one man and the passion of humanity for freedom in life and beyond. Accomplishing this requires concern for self, family, culture, and nature --encompassing the world around us.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Pedersen

    There is a lot to unpack here. This is a Book, one to put on a Book Shelf. "The Roots Of Heaven" was published in 1958 and it deals with the aftermath of the Holocaust in a way that feels raw and real... it is neither saccharine melodrama nor is it attempting to live up to all the history that just happened (see "Exodus"). Instead, it's a story that just lives in a world recently gone crazy. Characters try to cope with World War 2 (and the oncoming nuclear age) without knowing how it's all going There is a lot to unpack here. This is a Book, one to put on a Book Shelf. "The Roots Of Heaven" was published in 1958 and it deals with the aftermath of the Holocaust in a way that feels raw and real... it is neither saccharine melodrama nor is it attempting to live up to all the history that just happened (see "Exodus"). Instead, it's a story that just lives in a world recently gone crazy. Characters try to cope with World War 2 (and the oncoming nuclear age) without knowing how it's all going to turn out. It's written by someone who clearly thinks it's possible, maybe plausible, that humanity isn't going to survive the next 20 years. All that leads to an attempt to save the elephants in Chad, and the discussion of environmentalism (and environmental radicalism, and environmental terrorism) is fascinating. The author is not afraid to connect this directly with the unrest in Africa, too. It matters that this is about elephants, and the novel gets into the hairier discussions of privilege and racism inherent in a white guy coming in to "save" Africa. Does it need saving? In keeping the wildlife alive, are we also keeping African countries pre-industrial and subjugated? That also leads to a good story -- which I wasn't sure about going in, and everything I've said so far makes it sound like this is a philosophical essay. So do the first few pages of the book! But eventually we start following Morel on his quixotic, doomed quest and a lot of elephants get shot, people get trampled, and everything builds to a slow-burn tragic ending. Recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Deanne

    Felt sorry for Morel and his innocence, his crusade to save the elephants from the big game hunters and the natives comes from events in his own history. His heart is in the right place but he doesn't have any concept of what is going on around him. Romain goes into the politics of Morel's actions and those involved in his story, the background of the characters is explained and we're told what happens to them after the events. It's a story of it's time, a period of world history I'm not Felt sorry for Morel and his innocence, his crusade to save the elephants from the big game hunters and the natives comes from events in his own history. His heart is in the right place but he doesn't have any concept of what is going on around him. Romain goes into the politics of Morel's actions and those involved in his story, the background of the characters is explained and we're told what happens to them after the events. It's a story of it's time, a period of world history I'm not familliar with but I'd like to learn more.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zoha Azimi

    Romain Gary is amazing. the theme of this book reminded me of good bye Gary Cooper, and it was as awesome as it, too. Morel and Mina are kind of a character that you will not forget, you just live with them, you understand them. one of the other things that I loved about this book is that you feel love in a very soft way, it is not like emphasising on it till you doubt its existence, it is out there and there is no need for mentioning it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rūta Marozaitė

    The book changed my approach.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bob Newman

    Duped Dreamer Fails to Protect Pachyderms Ah, well, I was not enamored of the first of Gary's novels that I read, but I thought I'd give another one a try. Alas, it was not better at all. This is an extremely youthful novel set in a country (Chad) that I doubt he ever saw. This is always a mistake. While on one hand claiming to stand for freedom, equality, and the romance of Life---maybe the common bonds that exist in the souls of all men---Gary's love of cynicism drags him into creating a very Duped Dreamer Fails to Protect Pachyderms Ah, well, I was not enamored of the first of Gary's novels that I read, but I thought I'd give another one a try. Alas, it was not better at all. This is an extremely youthful novel set in a country (Chad) that I doubt he ever saw. This is always a mistake. While on one hand claiming to stand for freedom, equality, and the romance of Life---maybe the common bonds that exist in the souls of all men---Gary's love of cynicism drags him into creating a very romantic view of colonialism. All the characters are valiant, if world-weary. The colonialist images crop up thick and fast. Africa is populated by Frenchmen, the proper Englishman, the queer Dane, the German prostitute, the odd American, the raffish but crooked Arab, the posing Africans who (don't y'know) are really just primitives or wannabe Europeans. The image of elephants as symbols of freedom---they roam the wide open spaces---is done to death. (At least almost my death !) The story, such as it is, concerns a former French prisoner of a German WW II concentration camp who dreamt there of the free elephants that he imagined roam Africa and headed for Chad as soon as he got out. He realized that Europeans were shooting them and decided to protect them in a one man bush crusade against anyone who hunted the giant creatures. A ragtag group of Africans, more bandit and arms smugglers than freedom-fighters, joined him, using his activity as cover for their own. The French government has to take action. The German prostitute helps bring more arms for the anti-hunting crusader who always believes that the world would support him if only they knew. What ending could such a novel have? You can guess. This novel is way too long and wordy, full of pretentious epigrams---attempts to be clever---and loaded with stereotypes. In short, I didn't like it. Sure, you might, so give it a shot, but don't say I didn't warn you. As for the elephants, yes, they are still being shot. How long will they remain?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Pletcher

    This is mainly the story of Morel a survival of a Nazi camp who travels to Africa to try and stop the slaughter of elephants. He has a mission to making hunting elephants illegal. The story takes place in the 1950s. Morel gathers a few followers to help him on his campaign and becomes either hunted or aided by African nationalist, European colonists, and an American Journalist who becomes facinated with the elephants and their plight. This is a great book. It is very well written, and walks us This is mainly the story of Morel a survival of a Nazi camp who travels to Africa to try and stop the slaughter of elephants. He has a mission to making hunting elephants illegal. The story takes place in the 1950s. Morel gathers a few followers to help him on his campaign and becomes either hunted or aided by African nationalist, European colonists, and an American Journalist who becomes facinated with the elephants and their plight. This is a great book. It is very well written, and walks us through Morel's time in Chad. He is a French Nationalist who made it his mission to save these animals from cruel hunting especially for their ivory. The book is full of discussion on environmentalism and the unrest in Africa. It actually took me longer than I expected to read because it is not a light read by any means. The pages are heavy with detail and you need to take your time to get the complete story. But it was worth the time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This book was wonderful, and I love Romain Gary's novels. However, I found this novel very difficult to follow as to who was speaking and who was responding. I have read all his novels in French. This is my second reading of this novel. I think a cast of characters would have been helpful. Also, he uses run-on sentences which are WAYYYYYYYYY ! too long. I wonder if his editor had any input on sentence construction? When I learned that he committed suicide I was truly shaken and very sorry. I This book was wonderful, and I love Romain Gary's novels. However, I found this novel very difficult to follow as to who was speaking and who was responding. I have read all his novels in French. This is my second reading of this novel. I think a cast of characters would have been helpful. Also, he uses run-on sentences which are WAYYYYYYYYY ! too long. I wonder if his editor had any input on sentence construction? When I learned that he committed suicide I was truly shaken and very sorry. I believe he is one of the great recent authors on France. I am amazed that his books are not read in various universities around the world in French studies. My favorite book is "La Vie Devant Soi" which I have read many times.

  19. 5 out of 5

    LadyCalico

    I can't believe it took me seven days to read this novel, when I had expected to do it in three at most. I have decided that generally the mid-twentieth century French authors wrote some great novels but obstinately refuse to take it easy on their readers. Like French food, you don't just chomp and swallow your way through it in a rush but must chew 30 times, pause, lift your eyes to heaven, and savor. This novel was no exception and was filled with deep points to ponder, which a reader could I can't believe it took me seven days to read this novel, when I had expected to do it in three at most. I have decided that generally the mid-twentieth century French authors wrote some great novels but obstinately refuse to take it easy on their readers. Like French food, you don't just chomp and swallow your way through it in a rush but must chew 30 times, pause, lift your eyes to heaven, and savor. This novel was no exception and was filled with deep points to ponder, which a reader could fall into and get very delayed. I would hate to read this book in a literature class or book club and have to hear other people analyze it then spit it out. For me this book was meant for the solitary experience of taking it in and making it part of the reader.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    This is such a good book with very interesting characters and background stories. If a little heavy handed on the freedom theme. It took me so long to read it because it was terribly bound, the covers cracked off in pieces and I was afraid to break the spine in case the whole book fell apart - a lame reason to take so long, but it was hard to even open this book enough to read it!

  21. 5 out of 5

    David R. Godine

    The immensity, the loneliness of the further reachers of French Africa is an impressively suggestive backdrop for the [campaign] which is launched by a stray idealist…A curious and curiously convincing drama…a thoughtful and forceful piece of work. —Kirkus Review …the first identifiably ecological novel in the literature of France, and perhaps the world. —David Bellos

  22. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    Your passion, open and vulnerable. Oh! It is. Even in possession of support, legion given to fits of mad jealousy. Designs bred in echelons vast in prohibition to your sorry ass fixate their sickness, infecting aspirations to ward off idealism.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aveugle Vogel

    "famous lemonade"

  24. 4 out of 5

    P.S. Winn

    This is an interesting read as a dentist decides that he needs to save the elephants in africa who are hunted and killed for their ivory tusks. great story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rosalie Pop

    My favourite book of all time, the kind I wish to have written myself. An ode to humanity and compassion, pure beauty .

  26. 4 out of 5

    Book Wormy

    A philosophical story about freedom told against the backdrop of colonial Africa with Elephants as the symbols of freedom. This is a thought provoking book. Warning there are harrowing descriptions on elephant hunting and the effects of a widespread drought on all the animal populations in Africa. "No amount of good will could save the elephants. There could no longer be enough room in this world for such freedom." "The roots of heaven are forever planted in their hearts , yet of heaven itself they A philosophical story about freedom told against the backdrop of colonial Africa with Elephants as the symbols of freedom. This is a thought provoking book. Warning there are harrowing descriptions on elephant hunting and the effects of a widespread drought on all the animal populations in Africa. "No amount of good will could save the elephants. There could no longer be enough room in this world for such freedom." "The roots of heaven are forever planted in their hearts , yet of heaven itself they seem to know nothing" "marching forward forever - out of time and out of space - eternal in his endeavour, with that magnificent obsession in his heart" "You never teach a man anything by killing him. On the contrary, you make him forget everything." "Field's wondered how much "I" there was in that "we"

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Just started. Book is in excellent condition for a 1964 . Lists fr. 5 to 10 USD. Would prefer to read in French but you know. The ending dragged but the theme is as relevant today as after WWII, perhaps even more relevant.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amerynth

    I really liked Romain Gary's "The Roots of Heaven" even though I found the book to be a tough, slow read. (Possibly due to translation issues, but maybe that's just the way it was written.) The story, set in French Equatorial Africa in the waning days of colonialism follows Morel whose self-proclaimed goal is to save the elephants from extinction. What that goal means to the numerous people around him varies -- is it a political statement, a push to fight French colonialism or something more? I really liked Romain Gary's "The Roots of Heaven" even though I found the book to be a tough, slow read. (Possibly due to translation issues, but maybe that's just the way it was written.) The story, set in French Equatorial Africa in the waning days of colonialism follows Morel whose self-proclaimed goal is to save the elephants from extinction. What that goal means to the numerous people around him varies -- is it a political statement, a push to fight French colonialism or something more? While the book was a somewhat difficult read for me, I found it really got me thinking and it will likely resonate with me for a long time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andreea

    I didn't really enjoy this book. Not so much because of the story but because of the author's way of writing it. The only reason i read it all was because it was for school. I rarely give up on a book and even though it wasn't my favorite the plot was still interesting and I was curious to know how it was going to end.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Avital

    Romain Gary was probably one of the first writers who dedicated a book to saving nature. In this book he tells about a group of people going to Africa and how they try to save the elephants from extinction.

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