The author is a South African of English descent who has worked with well-known conservationist George Adamson. (Adamson's wife, Joy, wrote the classic Born Free.) In the late 1980s, a white Kenyan ranching family shot a lioness for attacking their cattle. When it was discovered that the lioness had been nursing cubs, the family located the youngsters and gave them to Adamson to raise. Patterson had been invited by Adamson to assist with his work in procuring a game reserve in Kora. After Adamson's murder at the hands of Somali poachers, Patterson devoted himself to carrying out his dream of establishing a safe haven for the lions, moving them to an isolated area in southern Botswana and returning them to the wild. Last of the Free is the engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable continuation of the Born Free saga, which started in 1956. While the reader will be absorbed by this tale of life in the African bush, it is not just a story about baby lions growing up. It is also a story about hardship, dedication, and demanding work. Patterson has a mission-to protect his lions and to promote their welfare-and he tells this story as much to educate as to entertain. His message deserves wide readership. [For more on the Adamsons, see Caroline Cass's Joy Adamson: Behind the Mask, LJ 9/1/93, and Adrian House's The Great Safari, LJ 10/15/93.-Ed.]-Edell Marie Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., Wis.
The "Born Free" era began with George and Joy Adamson and a lioness named Elsa. In 1956, the Adamsons' successful return of Elsa to the wilds of Kenya led to a total of 25 lions rescued, nurtured, and released to breed and roam the Kora and Meru Game Reserves in Africa. Patterson, who worked with George Adamson before his murder by poachers, adopted three orphaned cubs and safely transported, cared for, and returned them to a wild state in Tuli. This book is an account of those lions and Patterson's sometimes frightening, but often magical experiences with them. Though the book by no means contains exquisite language, evocative description, or even profound insight, the strength of the facts--the story itself--is elevated beyond Patterson's rather casual, journalistic style. Patterson's relationship with the three lions is heartwarming and reminds us that these fierce and lovely animals are still very much in need of our conservation efforts.