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Here is the astonishing true story of Ruth Harkness, the Manhattan bohemian socialite who, against all but impossible odds, trekked to Tibet in 1936 to capture the most mysterious animal of the day: a bear that had for countless centuries lived in secret in the labyrinth of lonely cold mountains. In The Lady and the Panda, Vicki Constantine Croke gives us the remarkable account of Ruth Harkness and her extraordinary journey, and restores Harkness to her rightful place along with Sacajawea, Nellie Bly, and Amelia Earhart as one of the great woman adventurers of all time.
Ruth was the toast of 1930s New York, a dress designer newly married to a wealthy adventurer, Bill Harkness. Just weeks after their wedding, however, Bill decamped for China in hopes of becoming the first Westerner to capture a giant panda–an expedition on which many had embarked and failed miserably. Bill was also to fail in his quest, dying horribly alone in China and leaving his widow heartbroken and adrift. And so Ruth made the fateful decision to adopt her husband’s dream as her own and set off on the adventure of a lifetime.
It was not easy. Indeed, everything was against Ruth Harkness. In decadent Shanghai, the exclusive fraternity of white male explorers patronized her, scorned her, and joked about her softness, her lack of experience and money. But Ruth ignored them, organizing, outfitting, and leading a bare-bones campaign into the majestic but treacherous hinterlands where China borders Tibet. As her partner she chose Quentin Young, a twenty-two-year-old Chinese explorer as unconventional as she was, who would join her in a romance as torrid as it was taboo.
Traveling across some of the toughest terrain in the world–nearly impenetrable bamboo forests, slick and perilous mountain slopes, and boulder-strewn passages–the team raced against a traitorous rival, and was constantly threatened by hordes of bandits and hostile natives. The voyage took months to complete and cost Ruth everything she had. But when, almost miraculously, she returned from her journey with a baby panda named Su Lin in her arms, the story became an international sensation and made the front pages of newspapers around the world. No animal in history had gotten such attention. And Ruth Harkness became a hero.
Drawing extensively on American and Chinese sources, including diaries, scores of interviews, and previously unseen intimate letters from Ruth Harkness, Vicki Constantine Croke has fashioned a captivating and richly textured narrative about a woman ahead of her time. Part Myrna Loy, part Jane Goodall, by turns wisecracking and poetic, practical and spiritual, Ruth Harkness is a trailblazing figure. And her story makes for an unforgettable, deeply moving adventure.
From the Hardcover edition.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.19(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 18 Years|
About the Author
From the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I first picked up this book, I thought to myself, how cool is that? The first women to bring back a live panda! But once I started the book it just slowly went downhill. To start, in the beginning it wasn¿t even about her, it was about her husband on the quest for the first giant panda. But once he passed away, she took up his hunt in china, and fell in love with her Chinese tour guide. But she did manage to bring back the panda. I found the book to have very slow parts to it and had way to much detail that was not needed. Like in the first few chapters talking about her drinking thought the night and her lunch plans and getting new acquaintances. It could have all been summed up very easily. But overall I probably would not read the book over, it was much too long. But I did enjoy how in the end she did get her giant panda with all of its glory, and found a new man along with the hunt.
The three top reasons I loved this book include: (1) it's based upon true history of a female pioneer, (2)the descriptions were so real I could imagine my foot stepping on the bamboo and then hearing it crack! (3) It is a soulful and uplifting read. In sum: Being a professor, I enjoy historical reads, especially ones that reveal so much about the women who came before us. This is an absolute fabulous read which stimulates the brain. Too, the pathos within the covers of this book reached my very soul. I laughed. I cried. And, I got so angry at the poachers, I could have thrown the book against the wall. Finally, I could never throw the book anywhere because I just could not put it down. No kidding. I read it from cover to cover without stopping. I felt unbelievably positive and hopeful when I finished reading. Purchase this for yourself or give this to anyone who loves life and adventure. Read this to boost your hope for the future!
As an animal lover, I picked up this book for the story about the bond between and women and a panda, but instead experienced a story of a woman explorer who sets out to find the “animal of the century”. Someone should read this if they are looking for a good adventure story. It gives the reader insight to the Chinese culture and how this woman falls in love with it. The story did start off very slow but had a great amount of detail that put a clear picture in the reader’s head. With this great amount of detail of Ruth Harkness travels, the story supported many themes and messages. One of the main themes was the bond between an animal and a woman. Many of the other themes are subtle like, fulfilling dreams, not giving up and how will people with doubt you. This nonfiction story was interesting and the writer did a great job using the letters of Ruth in the book with other information. I felt like it was many stories within a story because of all the things Ruth experienced. The detail was great but I felt the story could have left out a few details because it made the adventure story slow. Overall I would give this book 3 stars.