"Read this fascinating, important book about one of the world's least-studied and most mysterious bears. Sy Montgomery is the master of sharing the thrill of scientific discovery and humor along the way. You'll be right there with her. Search for the Golden Moon Bearis a pleasure--like finding a patch of ripe blueberries."--Dr. Lynn Rogers, Director, North American Bear Center
Though this eye-opening book starts out as a chronicle of a scientist's search for the elusive golden moon bears of Southeast Asia, it quickly turns into a spiritual, cultural and ecological study of two Third World nations ravaged by war and greed. Laos has the distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in the world, and Cambodia the most heavily mined (one in 236 Cambodians is an amputee, the author notes), but that doesn't keep Boston Globe journalist Montgomery (Journey of the Pink Dolphins) from accompanying Gary J. Galbreath, professor of evolutionary biology at Northwestern University, as they embark on an expedition to determine whether the golden moon bear is a new species or just a rare "color phase." While traveling from site to site searching for bears and plucking out their hairs (to use in DNA analysis), the two encounter a number of perils including monstrous leeches, inch-long ants and machine-gun-armed bandits as well as a handful of extraordinary people who are trying to preserve what is left of Asia's wildlife and forests. Sadly, all of the bears Montgomery and Galbreath find are either in sanctuaries, caged in zoos, or held in restaurants, destined for the chopping block. Montgomery vividly recounts her sometimes humorous, sometimes horrifying experiences with a reporter's keen eye, a conservationist's outrage and a poet's lyricism ("...the precise triangulated leaves of bamboo, the graceful tracery of vines, the embrace of living wood and breathing leaves soothed our souls"). Readers who aren't conservationists to begin with will be by the end of this heady and haunting narrative.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Nancy Moeckel, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH
Montgomery first enchanted readers with her search for the pink dolphin in the Amazon (Journey of the Pink Dolphin). She does the same in this tale of her journeys in Southeast Asia in pursuit of the Golden Moon Bear. Is this creature a color phase of the darker moon bear or the thrilling discovery of a new species? Making science exciting is Montgomery's talent, and she is in top form here, taking readers with her as she travels with bear expert Gary J. Galbreath and explores various cultures, histories, customs, and people. Despite her discoveries, Montgomery experiences soul-shaking sorrow. In Asia, bears are farmed for bile and horrifically tortured before select parts are consumed in restaurants. Yet hope exists in the form of honest young officials taking over from previous corrupt administrations and in local and international efforts to provide animal sanctuaries and hospitals. For the science, for the understanding, for the feeling that you were there, too, this book is highly recommended.