Unforgotten: The Wild Life of Dian Fossey and Her Relentless Quest to Save Mountain Gorillas

Unforgotten: The Wild Life of Dian Fossey and Her Relentless Quest to Save Mountain Gorillas
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Release Date
June 29, 2021
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In 1963, young American Dian Fossey spent all her savings and took out a loan to realize her dream--to go to Africa. It soon became her life's mission to study and protect the few mountain gorillas left on Earth. Fossey had no experience or formal scientific training, but she was smart, passionate, and strong-willed--and she just happened to meet paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey, who helped her pursue her goal of studying animals in the wild. Fossey set up a research camp and threw herself into tracking and observing mountain gorillas. Over the next 18 years, Fossey got closer to gorillas than any human ever had before. As she learned to mimic their behavior and became accepted by them, Fossey's studies grew into a labor of love and a mission to protect her beloved gorillas from poachers and other threats--no matter what the cost.

Sadly, Fossey was murdered at her camp in 1985, and to this day, her death remains a mystery. But her legacy lives on through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund: In 1973 Fossey recorded only 275 gorillas living in Volcanoes National Park; there are about twice that many today. Fossey's story is one of tragedy, but also passion, science, and preservation. As Jane Goodall, once said, "If Dian had not been there, there might be no mountain gorillas in Rwanda today." Unforgotten is the dramatic conclusion to Silvey's trilogy of biographies on Leakey's "Trimates." With unparalleled storytelling, sidebars, maps, and an award-winning design, Unforgotten will inspire the next generation of budding scientists and conservationists.

Editor review

1 review
Gorillas in the Mist
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Learning Value
In a format rich in primary source photographs and lovely page decorations of flora, the life and work of Dian Fossey is explained and discussed. Interestingly, Silvey has also given similar treatment to two primatologists who are easy to confuse with Fossey, Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goddall and Undaunted: The Wild life of The Wild Life of Biruté Mary Galdikas.

After a brief chapter about her childhood and life before going to Africa, we are swept away to Kenya where Fossey trained with Louis Leakey and later spent much time on her own living in the wilds and observing mountain gorillas. There is great supporting material as well, such as a chart of other animals found in the Virungas and overviews of gorilla species. Maps help to place where she lived and studied.

It's interesting to see how Fossey spent her days, and the details of what went in to her studies. The book does not shy away from her struggles with mental health and alcoholism, but treats those parts of her life briefly and in a matter of fact manner. Her violent death in 1985 is explained by not sensationalized, and it's good that the book ended with her continuing legacy.
Good Points
The timeline at the end of the book, with each life event written on a leaf, should be made into a poster! There's also a nice guide to the plants featured in the page decorations, and a good list of Further Resources as well as a complete index.

Readers who want to find out more about scientists, primatology, or groundbreaking women scientists will enjoy this pictorial biography of a devoted scientist gone too soon.
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