Nov 30, 2012

Pick of the Week

Looking for something to read this weekend?  Here's a book we recommend! 


by Michael Allin
In October 1826, a ship arrived at Marseille carrying the first giraffe ever seen in France. A royal offering from Muhammad Ali, Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt, to King Charles X, she had already traveled 2,000 miles down the Nile to Alexandria, from where she had sailed across the Mediterranean standing in the hold, her long neck and head protruding through a hole cut in the deck. In the spring of 1827, after wintering in Marseille, she was carefully walked 550 miles to Paris to the delight of thousands of onlookers. The viceroy's tribute was politically motivated: he commanded the Turkish forces then fighting the Greeks in their war of independence, and hoped his gift would persuade the French not to intervene against him. But the viceroy and his intentions were quickly forgotten as France fell in love with its "beautiful stranger." This book chronicles the full story of this remarkable animal, revealing a kaleidoscope of history, science, and culture that opens an exotic window on the early nineteenth century. And through Michael Allin's narrative skill, Zarafa stirs the imagination as it provides a new context for the history of a distant age.

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