I generally dislike books for adults which anthropomorphize wildlife. Except for “Watership Down” and “Animal Farm” I can’t — off the top of my head — think of another book oriented towards adults that I liked that did so. However, Vaughan’s book tells a stirring story that could pretty much only be told by anthropomorphizing its wildlife characters – because those characters are the only characters through most of the story and the intensity of the story revolves around their internal experience.
It’s the story of a pride of lions that escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during the Gulf War. The four lions were – for a time – roaming the streets of war-torn Baghdad looking for food. The story blends fiction with way-points of fact established from the accounts of soldiers.
Vaughan does inject some of the harsh reality of the natural world into the book, and so it doesn’t fall completely into the pit of anthropomorphization, and — by doing so — he creates a more visceral experience in the story.
It’s a short but gripping story. Vaughan succeeds in facilitation of the reader’s consideration of what it must be like to be an uncomprehending creature placed in humanity’s most incomprehensible condition – warfare.
An appendix to the book includes the proposal and notes, which clarifies some of what was actually known to have happened as opposed to what is either speculated or fiction.
I found this book intriguing and would highly recommend it.