Review: BBC One – Attenborough and the Giant Elephant

An African elephant at home - photograph taken by Frederik Ahlefeldt-L-L

An African elephant at home – photograph taken by Frederik Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Lehn

This powerful documentary is about a giant and those who knew him. It is fascinating, sad … and so important to watch.

Sir David Attenborough is with us from start to finish. It is he who picks through the evidence to show us the life and times of Jumbo, the celebrity Victorian elephant.

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Review of Naples ’44 – Francesco Patierno’s film of the book by Norman Lewis

 

Naples, Itlay

Naples, Italy

This film, a collage of memory and story, nightmare and fact, holds high the war-shattered image of Naples. It takes us amongst the ruins to show us desperate lives caught up in battle and destruction.

We are not asked to pity or excuse … only to understand, and to witness the consequences of a year of war in a city targeted for its strategic importance.

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In Search of Ancient North Africa (A History in Six Lives) by Barnaby Rogerson

In Search of Ancient North Africa (A History in Six Lives) by Barnaby Rogerson

In Search of Ancient North Africa (A History in Six Lives) by Barnaby Rogerson

“And though the world’s population keeps expanding, the number of individuals who know the stories of their own lands diminishes every year.”
              Barnaby Rogerson in the introduction to In Search of Ancient North Africa     

This is a book about forgotten origins and outcomes. Through six lives it shows us legends, families, survival, and the importance of memory. It gives the north of Africa a fresh polish.

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The Struggle Continues – 50 years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe (by David Coltart)

The Struggle Continues - 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart

The Struggle Continues – 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart

This is a tale of stubborn politics, war, courage, resilience, legal challenge, and hope. It tells of the evolution of a young democracy, and the consequences of decisions that have shaped that process.

The author, David Coltart, born and raised in Zimbabwe, is an experienced lawyer and politician who still lives in the country. He writes with a style that is clear and controlled, one that allows the subject to reveal itself.

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Harmony and Discord in Africa – Memories of Childhood in Southern Rhodesia by Mark Huleatt-James

Harmony and Discord in Africa by Mark Huleatt-James

Harmony and Discord in Africa by Mark Huleatt-James

This is about a time and a childhood place not far from my own.

Harmony and Discord in Africa, despite its title, is not a political book but rather a slice of ‘home history’ about a boy, his family and their life on a farm in the young British colony of Southern Rhodesia .

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Travels in a Dervish Cloak by Isambard Wilkinson

Travels in a Dervish Coat by Isambard Wilkinson

Travels in a Dervish Coat by Isambard Wilkinson

Here’s a book to pop your eyes. Cloaked in dust and petals it swirls through bedrooms, bazaars, bombings, palaces, shrines, caves and festivals. The pace is insistent and the tensions increasing.

Our guide is journalist Isambard Wilkinson. He takes us to Pakistan (2006 – 2009) and entices us to follow him from Baluchistan to the Khyber Pass, via a couple of pauses for kidney complications.

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Chernobyl Prayer – A Chronicle of the Future by Svetlana Alexievich

Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich (Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature)

Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich (Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature)

I was at St Andrews University in Scotland, when the accident happened … “the gravest technological catastrophe of the twentieth century.” It was 26 April, 1986.

Reactor No.4 of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Belarus collapsed.

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