Review in BBC Wildlife, January 2000, page 78 by BRIAN JACKMAN (writer)
On the run
The great migration of wildebeest zebras and gazelles across the high plains of East Africa's Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is the biggest wildlife show on Earth. Big subjects deserve a broad canvas, and this book is as big as they come - a coffee-table blockbuster whose wide-screen format is ideal for showing the huge Serengeti landscapes and awesome portraits of predators and prey. It is dominated by Carlo Mari's stunning photographs, and the fact that he has chosen to work entirely in black and white - reproduced here by using duotones on wonderfully thick ivory paper - only adds to the power of each printed image. The soft, grainy texture gives the action shots a quality akin to Renaissance paintings, except that instead of flights of angels we see zebras flying through clouds of dustand wildebeest crashing through torrents of spray as they race for their lives across the Mara River. But pictures alone cannot explain the mysteries of the great migration. That needs the words of experts - and the strength of this book is that the experts also happen to be the finest of wordsmiths. The cover carries a glowing message from Peter Matthiessen. The foreword is by Richard D Estes, whose own books on African mammals are essential reading for every safari enthusiast, and the main text is by Harvey Croze, distinguished- author of Pyramids of Life. With Croze as guide, the reader is taken on a 500km round trip from the wildebeest's ancestral calving grounds in the southern Serengeti to their dry-season refuge in the Masai Mara - a circuit as old as Africa itself. Along the way, everything is explained in lucid and informative style, with the occasional dash of dry humour for good measure. All the key players are featured, from those species which make up what Croze calls the "guild of predators" down to the fine print of the Serengeti grasses and the parasites which probably kill more wildebeest than all the predators put together. The result is nothing less than a masterpiece, a celebration of the natural world in all its diversity. If you can't actually go to Africa to see the great migration in the flesh, this book really is the next best thing.
Book ID 784