Cover Image: The Last Giants

The Last Giants

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is a fascinating read on one of the most endangered species on earth. Well written and researched I highly recommend
Was this review helpful?
Elephants are beautiful, magical creatures and we should do our part to protect their species. This book is very informative and well written. I’d highly recommend this to anyone interested in learning more these beautiful animals.
Was this review helpful?
I recently read a picture book which focussed on Elephants with the most amazing photos. This book did not have the pictures, but it had the author's emotional investment in getting the complexities of Elephant conservation across.
Although there are some on the other side of the globe, this particular book focuses on the African ones (as the cover page proclaims). The author begins with an introduction about his own attachment to elephants. After a brief history of these magnificent creatures, he moves on to the practical issues facing their continued survival. 
Some topics covered here will be public knowledge, but some angles elaborated here were quite enlightening.
It is not a very merry topic to debate upon, and that is another point that discussed, about how spectators from around the globe voice opinions about the conservation efforts but do not really sacrifice anything for it, unlike the people actually living in the same areas- this was probably my biggest takeaway from my read. It was a sobering realization.
I do not read as many non-fiction books as some other followers of this genre because I find them slow to read. In this case, I did not have that issue. The author is talking to us, the readers, and the style works.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book thanks to the publisher through NetGalley. I am sorry it took me so long to finish it. It wasn't so difficult because I didn't like it, quite on contrary, but because it caused me such a pain to read it. Each chapter was a woeful reminder of what a beautiful world we are losing each day with our encroachment, cruelty and intolerance toward the wildlife and nature around us. European wildlife, I suspect, has already lost that battle long time ago.

Levison Wood did a stunning amount of research about elephants, their history and their issues all over African continent. However, the book is not only about animals per se, but about environmental and social crisis tightly connected with the wildlife conservation issues in Africa. Wood doesn't allow sentimentality and bias toward nature conservation to cloud his judgment. 

Wood rightly summarizes Africa is not just about animals, it is about people striving together with the animals sharing the same habitats. Without prosperity for humans there is little or none chance for animals to prosper too. They are all doomed in that vicious circle of poverty that is exploited by powers to be usually living elsewhere in their penthouses. Thankfully, Wood provides us eventually a chapter with a glimmer of hope in that aspect. Ideas provided by local people with meager resources that solved some issues they had with elephants are so genuinely brilliant.

I wish so much that not only common people read this book but also people in power to do so much more than we can. People just have to realize the nature is not their enemy nor a perishable mantelpiece commodity to use but an ally and a valuable living resource to their prosperity and development. Of course, it is not just a fight for a better Africa, but for a better world, so we all must work together to stop this extinction of our planet.
Was this review helpful?
This was an informative book and I learnt several new and interesting facts. It makes a change to read a change of genre. I love Levinson's walking documentaries as he is so full of life as a person.
Was this review helpful?
The future for elephants is bleak – unless humankind changes its ways. 

My friend Gail and I are reading this truly fantastic book simultaneously. Gail lives in South Africa near Knysna. She lives close to where elephants once lived in the surrounding forests. Levison Wood thinks there might be one very lonely elephant still living in the forest. However, Not too far from where this forest elephant lives, there is an elephant sanctuary. The elephants in the sanctuary are often visible from the road when travelling to Plettenberg Bay. Also mentioned in this book, is the hope that the elephants from this sanctuary and others living between Knysna and the Addo Elephant Park will have a unique “highway” created so that they can once again journey through the lands they once knew before they were shot to extinction. 

The book is filled with data but what struck me like a bolt of lightning was how ancient these remarkable animals are. Can you imagine how much of their DNA is stored inside them? Ice ages, being used as part of armies, being speared for their tusks? Unfortunately, Levison Wood has also included some shocking data about how the numbers of elephants have declined thanks to humankind’s greed for ivory. A trade that has been going on for millennia. 

While reading the book, there’ve been these crazy phone calls over thousand of kilometres because one of us would pick up on something that’s jumped out at us from the book. Levison Wood has made two friends exceptionally happy as both she and I like to think that facts and statistics were created for us to rattle off to each other. 

If like Gail and I – you’re passionate about elephants, then this is a book filled with info. Not always what you might like to hear, but which you should hear so that more of us can take a stand against poaching and legal trophy hunting – something that I despise. 


Elite Reviewing Group received a copy of the book to review.
Was this review helpful?
this was a really good read, it's a tragedy that these elephants are becoming so endangered. The book had really good information.
Was this review helpful?
A well written and researched, but heartbreaking book about my favorite animal. A must read for anyone interested in animal conservation and wellfare.
Was this review helpful?
I have read quite a few of this Authors books, and I love his journeys in different countries.
This one is different as it is an informational book on Elephants, in which he also gives us some of his personal encounters with these animals.
Very well researched and written, this book will give you information on just about any aspect of the elephants life. Here he talks mainly of the African elephant, but he does bring into play the Asian Elephant.
 It is a book a bit hard to review as it is about so many different things. If you love elephants, or are worried about their future, this is a book for you. It reads very smoothly as he has added a lot of personal stories to the facts. 
I thoroughly enjoyed the information given, which is eye opening  in parts, but also just pure enjoyment seeing how these beautiful animals relate to one another and survive the ever growing way civilization is overtaking their needed land.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for a copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you for the advanced copy.  I am a massive Levison fan so maybe I am biased.

I learnt a lot from this book about the wider aspects of our relationship with animals. 

Extremely well researched, brilliantly written and I found this to be one of his best pieces of writing.
Was this review helpful?
I've read everything by Levison Wood I've been able to get my hands on and this is no different. It was not only deeply informative, but gut-wrenchingly poignant as we look at the life and deaths of such a majestic creature. It is a wonderful treatise on the cause and effect of poaching, the biological impacts, as well as the societal issues involved. It's a must read for anyone concerned about convservation.
Was this review helpful?
This book was an easy choice. I like Levison Wood. I’ve read two of his excellent, if wildly masochistic at times, walking adventures. I like animals. More than people, certainly. That love may be unequal and species contingent, but few can come close to the magic of elephants. And I mean, pure magic, I find these giants absolutely magical, majestic, magnificent…well, you get it. But, sadly, not everyone does. To African farmers they may present danger, to starving people they make look like food and to the world at large driven by unchecked greed they seem to provide decorations. These are some of the main reasons elephants went from comfortably grazing over huge territories and numbering in something like 12 millions to the paltry 415 000 today. There is a map comparing African elephant population in 1800 to 2019 and it’s just devastating. So in this book Levison Wood who has already spent a significant time in Africa, walking and otherwise, returns to tell the tale of elephants and a sad tale it is. It’s a very informative book for being so compact, it covers the biological ascent of the species from the epic days of megafauna to the modern day of…well, basically, slaughter with some attempts at preservation. It talks about what makes elephants so distinct among all animals, how intelligent and emotionally intuitive and adaptable (for such behemoths) they are. It discusses the trade that has had such deleterious effects on their population that, despite having been outlawed on so many places, is still active enough to warrant the killings. And more importantly, it provides context for all of this, which is to say the author goes to great length to discuss the elephants’ role in the grand scheme of things and even from the purely biological perspective it is crucial. They contribute heavily to plant distribution (travel and poo method) and safe survival of many smaller species who (sometimes literally) follows in their giant footsteps. So even if someone somehow fails to understand how awesome elephants are, they can at least follow the facts to understand how significant they are. And Wood actually goes further to provide some actionable ideas on how to improve the situation with the heavy stress on education and promotion of peaceable coexistence. To give the man credit, he tries to be optimistic, but it’s one of those situations where numbers speak for themselves and the stories they tell are tragic. And while it is difficult in this day and age to be surprised by people’s stupidity, greed or cruelty, this book still managed to be emotionally devastating. But it is an important book, it’s highly educational and it absolutely should be read. In fact, it’s going to be a tv presentation too, which’ll most likely get it more attention than the book might. So maybe…maybe…some minds will be enlightened and/or changed. Only time will tell. Reading wise, this was somewhat different from Wood’s usual walking fare, his signature travelogues, which is to say it was more on the informational side, with not a lot of author’s personality coming through. There was still some travel involved, although it seems that this time Wood utilized wheels and other modern inventions to get there. But he does provide fond recollections of walking at least near the elephants on his previous African adventures. So there’s some of that, but so much of the book is pure pachyderm excellence. Maybe Wood just had the right idea of stepping aside to let the real (mega)stars bathe in the much deserved attention. This was good, great even, educational, edifying, erudite, well informed presentation that stayed away from going all textbookish and excited like a sort of ecofriendly well planned armchair safari expedition. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
Was this review helpful?
An enjoyable overview of the biology, history, and human interaction with elephants as well as conservation efforts. Some of the more biological parts were a bit dense, but I did enjoy the overviews of elephant behavior and psychology. The last half was very sad, with lots of info about ivory trade and poaching, but the book ended on a more uplifting note, with conservation success stories.
Was this review helpful?