Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa

Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa

by Mark Seal

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781588368614
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/26/2009
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 687,287
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Mark Seal has been a journalist for more than thirty years. Currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, he has written for many major magazines and served as a collaborator on almost twenty nonfiction books. Although he has written thousands of stories, Seal says none has struck a chord with readers more than the story of the incredible life and brutal death of Joan Root, which he originally reported in the August 2006 issue of Vanity Fair. He lives in Aspen, Colorado.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt


She always knew he would come back to her.
He would climb into his helicopter at first light one Nairobi morning
and rise above the screaming madhouse of the city, tilting west over
East Africa’s largest slum, and flying out into wonder: out over the
Great Rift Valley, the cradle of civilization, a three- thousand- mile- long
seam in the earth that stretches from Syria to Mozambique but is at its
most glorious here in Kenya. As the floor of the world dropped away,
opening into endless sky and a breathtaking vista, he would follow this
corridor straight back to her.

There were things she longed to tell him, things only he would understand.
Everything she’d been too shy and self- effacing to say before
would now come pouring out, just as it had in all of the letters she had
written him, letters she never sent:

A lifetime has passed since we split, and yet some memories of
things we did together seem [as if they happened] only the other
day. There is so much I would like to say and share with you—now
I know I am not inferior to you.

She waited for him in her blue house beside the lake, which looked
so perfect and placid from the air. But this was merely another extreme
in a country where great beauty coexists with unimaginable brutality,
where the border between life and death is the thinnest of lines, where
nothing is ever as it seems.

Now in contact with others, I realize how knowledgeable I am
about the natural world. . . . People respect me nowadays. But the
only love of my life is one of the few people I cannot communicate
with, even as a friend.

She could leave all that pain behind as soon as he came back into her
life. Flying over the mountains and dormant volcanoes that form a natural
amphitheater around the lake, he would hover over the emeraldgreen
water, taking in its wide, verdant, wildlife- infested expanse.

When you flew over and saw the blue house you were probably
happy you didn’t live here anymore, but I am really such a different
person, I hardly know myself. I have written you so many letters in
my head but when I try to write I go to pieces.

She imagined him buzzing the house, as playfully as he always had,
then touching down on the grass landing strip and stepping out, as if
returning from only a brief safari instead of half a lifetime. Then at last
she would impress him with her independence and accomplishments
and show him the abiding endurance of her love.

Finally, he did come back to her, flying in with the dawn on January
13, 2006. It was not, however, as she had dreamed for so long. He
hadn’t come to reunite with the woman who had once been his wife,
partner, and best friend, the woman he’d left to live alone in Africa for
sixteen years.

He had come to collect her remains.

From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Death in Africa 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
OhMercurialMe More than 1 year ago
What an compelling read! I found myself engulfed in its pages, absorbing each and every detail. What an incredible woman, and the adventurous, albeit dangerous, life she lived. As I continued reading the story of this courageous, loving, dedicated, yet unassuming woman, I realized how much I wished that I'd had the privilege of meeting her. What she contributed, along with her former husband Alan, to the conservation of African wildlife shall be her legacy, long remembered. Ms. Root stood for what she believed, and battled til the death to defend it. I thank you Joan Root, from the bottom of my heart, for your selflessness and courage. I'm so grateful to Mark Seal for bringing this story to the rest of the world so that we may get a glimpse of what true love, honor and devotion really looks like. I would and have recommended this book to everyone! Oh, and don't forget the tissues.
Deaconess More than 1 year ago
Joan Root lived an unusual life. She was in a certain place at a certain time. The glimpse into that world is unique and contributed to my understanding of our world. Fascinating reading.
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
I got a picture of a woman, and of a marriage, and of a career filming animals in the wild, but it all felt pieced together and thinly researched. I felt a little of the voyeur, since she was such a beautiful woman and the author seemed more than a little in love with his subject. Perhaps she knew how difficult it was for people to get past her beauty to her accomplishments--she kept herself too tightly wrapped and private for this author to uncover. Still, I would rather have it than nothing at all.
teach23 More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book because I knew Mark's dad. What a great woman Jane Root was. I am so glad Mark decided to write about her life. Great story of Africa and Jane Root's life.
SK-fan More than 1 year ago
I'm not a huge non-fiction lover, but this book was wonderful. It held my attention and I fell in love with the life of the Roots. Joan's quiet manner and love for animals was inspiring. I've heard there may be a movie with Julia Roberts playing the lead. I love Roberts but Joan might be big shoes to fill for even Julia!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unbelievably beautiful and entertaining, this is the best book I have read in decades. There is a rhythm in the pages like the drumbeat of a faraway tribe, communicating a warning. This biography of Joan Root will change your life and put a human face on the cesspool that Africa is becoming, while never losing sight of the rare beauty she once was. READ IT!
Vanityflair More than 1 year ago
Best book I've read in a long time. I understand so much more about Africa after "meeting" Joan Root. I highly recommend this wonderful book.
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NauAshley More than 1 year ago
Anyone interested in this naturalist and beautiful woman should read this book. The author really did a good job about capturing Joan through her life and you really feel with her through her happy marriage, unhappy divorce, her struggle to save her home and the animals she loved and her wrongful death.
blwertz More than 1 year ago
Mark Seal does an amazing job researching and writing a book about Joan Root, who by all rights should be as well-known as Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. A story about Joan growning up and living in Africa as a naturalist and a film-maker.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My little sister, as many of you know, takes things quite.....Littarally! When I was five and she was three, (and I thought she was my slave, I ordered her to buikd me a time macine with purple sparkles and my name written in yellow glitter glue! For months I waited for my sparkly purple wonder! Then came third grade, the year of reality. I stopped believing in things like ailians and I stopped hopping that I could fly and jumping off the couch. Then did I know that I would not travle through time with my sparkly purple maciine. But I would still occasionaly ask Amilia if my time macine was done. She would always say,"Of course not!" It was like our little joke! Untill the night of nine dreams. On that night I had nine dreams, not very unusual, but they all had to do with different time periods. I thought this was kind of weird, but everyone has weird dreams once in a while! Then I asked my sister the common question,,"Is my time macine ready?" She said," Yes! Here you go!" I stared in amazement, there was the yellow and purple macine I had asked for so ling ago! It had nine dials, each labled one of the nine time periods I had visited in my dreams! I twisted all of them. Nothing. My heart sank. I would never travel threough time. Then my sister,s face lit up and she said,"No silly! It knows you dont havw your eyes closed!!" So I closed my eyes and tured the dial that said"Medival Period" and then I realized why you had to close your eyes! There was a brigght light thaI could see through the lids of my eyes! I felt something on my head, and then I opened my eyes and saw what looked like the medival age! That was the first time periode in my dream! I then herd my sister's voice saying "Now you are in the time periode of King Arthor!" I said,"I think ill explore a little, take sime pictures, then head back." Her small voice replied,"Its not that simple! You need to get the treasure chest in King Arthir's throne. When you open it, you should be teleported to the last knob tuurned!" Then it hit me,"(****)! I turned ALL of the knobs! Does that mean I will have to get through all if the time periodes?" She replied with a dissapointing anseer,"Of course you silly! And mommy said not to say (****)!" "AMELIA! DONT SAY THAT! THAT IS A GROWN UP WORD!" I said in a harsh wisper. So I set off to find King arthit's throne! First, I thought I should check the pallace, so i did, I didnt find anything but dust and air on the throne, then it hit me, what if king arthor isnt king yet? So i set lff to find Arthors house!! When I git thwre, I didnt knick or anything, I just walked right in. Then I saw the chest in a chair labeled "Arthor" so I opened It, then anither blinding flash, I was so supprised that I dropped the time macine! Then there was another flash,, and I was home! I guess i had broken the macine and it had gone it's default mode and teleported me back home! Then when I touched it agaib, it started blinking in a weird strobe like pattern, then stoped when I pulled my hand away. I asked Amilea why this happened,and she said,"Its mad that you dropped it, that's all, it might forgive you in a year or two!" I was just happy that it didnt mean it would blow up. Then I put it in my sock drawer foor saf keeping, like I do for all my valuables. One day, a few months later, my dog chewed up my socks, so my mom bought some new ones and put them in my drawer. I was reading, but I thought I saw a flash of yellow and purple exit the drawer...THE END &star