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Between 1910 and 1940, when Frank Buck, the big jungle man, did most of his work, cruelty toward wild animals was generally condoned in the name of "hunting" or "sport."
That his trademark motto, "Bring 'em back alive," made him famous, however, indicates that even in his day human consciousness was high enough to appreciate his respect for animals. Today this consciousness is so widespread that no one could become a hero of his stature by trapping jungle animals for profit.
But he understood animals and respected them, even displayed toward them the care of a mother for her child. When they were injured or sick, he personally tended them, a risky business. A 600-pound tapir he was treating almost killed him. A python saw him as a meal, and a cobra spewed deadly venom in his eyes. Attacked by another cobra, he threw his coat over the snake and pounced on it. He held it beneath him as it wriggled to get free until aides could get a grip on its head and pull it out, like a bird extracting a worm from the ground. The python that had him in its grip was one of the very few he had to kill. He managed to get one arm free enough to reach his sidearm; then he put three rounds in the giant reptile's brain.
From his headquarters at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, he operated a collecting network that spanned the lush jungles of Malaya, Borneo, Sumatra and India. Over the years, he brought back hundreds of thousands of birds and animals of all kinds for sale to zoos, circuses and private collectors. In 1922, he provided Dallas with an entire zoo of more than 500 specimens. In 1948, he returned to his hometown of Gainesville, Texas, to dedicate the Frank Buck Zoo and the Frank Buck Zoological Society.
From Mr. Buck's eight books, Steven Lehrer has selected the "best" of the material. He has fine sensibilities as an editor. However, the books are so full of good, old-fashioned, movie-serial-type adventures in wild, exotic settings, that Mr. Lehrer could have closed his eyes and picked 19 chapters that would make a good collection. The surprising thing is that, until now, no one else has.
What few could have done better, however, is write the illuminating introduction summarizing Mr. Buck's early interest in animals and birds as a boy in Plano and along Turtle Creek, and his brief dalliance with crime, marriage and other enterprises before setting out on his lifelong search for "the source of the wind, the mouth of the river, the oceans to which the fish swam, and the far lands to which the birds flew."
Free-lance writer and reviewer Tom Dodge lives in Midlothian; his new book is Tom Dodge Talks About Texas.
38-1532 QL61 99-86898 CIP
Buck, Frank. Bring 'Em Back Alive: The Best of Frank Buck, ed. by Steven Lehrer. Texas Tech, 2000. 248p bibl index afp ISBN 0-89672-430-1, $28.95
In many ways, this is a delightful book. Buck was a familiar and heroic figure to many growing up in the 1930s and 1940s; the numerous illustrations recapture those days. The great zoos of the day owed much to him, partly for the specimens he obtained for them but even more for the publicity he generated and shared. His exploits could not and should not be repeated today, but that should not detract from the sense of adventure his stories evoke. His persona was mirrored in the white hunter in King Kong (the Fay Wray version), but his real life adventures were even more thrilling. The comments by Lehrer (Mount Sinai School of Medicine) are interesting and useful, and his choices of episodes from various of Buck's books are well done. All in all, this is an extremely entertaining book, illustrating a different time and written in a way that brings that time to life. General readers. -F W. Yow, emeritus, Kenyon College
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"Wetscrape Braintanned Buckskin" has a particularly good bibliography, section on tool sharpening, troubleshooting, museum quality illustrations, good humor and a whole lot of excellent information. I've been brain tanning for a living for 11 years, teach it regularly and have written a book on it myself, and all I can say is that if you are considering getting this book, just do it!
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For those who want to experience the North Cascades as they were in the 30's and 40's, reading the "Trails and Alpine Hiking Approaches" section will steer you in the right direction. This book is rife with golden kernels of information found nowhere else. Any serious climber should have all three of the Cascade Alpine Guide books.
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The book ends with a delightful biography of the author who, though born a Canadian, became a Buddhist monk , lived in Dharmsala,was taught by the Dalai Lama,did a 3 year retreat in a mountian cave and after 13 years was given permission by the Dalai Lama to give up his ordination and teach Buddhism in the West. His description of this life is fascinating.
There is a glossary of Buddhist terms,a bibliography.and an index - all things a good book needs!
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However, I do have to say it is the ugliest childrens book cover I have ever seen- you can barely read the title because it's on shiny reflective paper. The scan really doesn't do it justice.
The book really shines in its beautifully-drawn illustrations that recall the best of 40's and 50's picturebooks. Boldly composed double-page spreads, they're elaborate and humorous and delighted my daughter.
This is an unusually well crafted tale and should be snapped up.
This 36 short story compilation by one of UK's finest story-telling minds is one of the worthwhile, entertaining readings for almost everyone for sure. If you are a bookworm and a voracious reader of fiction or short story, you MUST have this book. Have a nice day of reading without prejudice.^-^ SP
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This is a definite must read for any cynical, misanthropic, and/or Satanic individual.
As a foot note: I believed in, and was moved so much by, this man's writings that I collaborated with Rev. Steven Johnson Leyba to produce background music for his passage "I Don't Believe", contained on page 37 of this book (...)