Gold Rush in the Jungle
The Race to Discover and Defend the Rarest Animals of Vietnam's "Lost World"
By Dan Jr Drollette
(Crown, Hardcover, 9780307407047, 336pp.)
Publication Date: April 16, 2013
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An engrossing, adventure-filled account of the rush to discover and save Vietnam's most extraordinary animals
Deep in the jungle where the borders of Vietnam meet those of Laos and Cambodia is a region known as "the lost world." Large mammals never seen before by Western science have popped up frequently in these mountains in the last decade, including a half-goat/half-ox, a deer that barks, and a close relative of the nearly extinct Javan rhino. In an age when scientists are excited by discovering a new kind of tube worm, the thought of finding and naming a new large terrestrial mammal is astonishing, and wildlife biologists from all over the world are flocking to this dangerous region. The result is a race between preservation and destruction.
Containing research gathered from famous biologists, conservationists, indigenous peoples, former POWs, ex-Viet Cong, and the first U.S. ambassador to Vietnam since the war's end, Gold Rush in the Jungle goes deep into the valleys, hills, and hollows of Vietnam to explore the research, the international trade in endangered species, the lingering effects of Agent Orange, and the effort of a handful of biologists to save the world's rarest animals.
DAN DROLLETTE is a writer, editor, and lecturer whose articles have appeared in such publications as Scientific American, International Wildlife, the Boston Globe, Natural History, Cosmos, Science, ABCNewsOnline, New Scientist, Newsday, and The Sciences. Recently, he earned awards from the National Association of Science Writers, the Society of Environmental Journalists, and the "East Meets West" journalism conference at UC Berkeley.
Praise for Dan Drollette Jr.’s Gold Rush in the Jungle
“Gold Rush in the Jungle is a book of opposites, discovery vs. extinction, economic development vs. environmental devastation, and political oppression vs. biological preservation…Mr. Drollette explains with a highly readable page-turner, an exemplar of pop science writing.”
—New York Journal of Books
“From elusive forest oxen to barking deer, Vietnam has seen a raft of newly discovered species emerge during the past decade. Almost as swiftly, the black market is bringing many close to extinction. Science journalist Dan Drollette Jr reveals the courage and ingenuity of researchers intent on preserving what wildlife they can. Drawing on years of visits to the country, his snapshots of these wildlife warriors — such as langur specialist Tilo Nadler — reveal approaches that could show the way for conservationists in other tight spots.”
“Dan Drollette takes readers on a back-of-the-motorcycle journey to one of the world’s last wild places. Gold Rush in the Jungle is an absorbing tale of adventure, discovery, and loss.”
—Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker staff writer and author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe
“Almost all the endangered-wildlife stories we usually hear are from Africa, and so the one Dan Drollette tells was a new and intriguing one to me. Neither the heroes nor villains—nor animals—are what you would expect. And the entire little-known saga is shadowed by the aftermath of war. Hats off to Drollette for making this better known.”
—Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost
“These stories are almost too fraught with irony: in Vietnam, scene of the climactic ideological battle of the late 20th century, scientists find new species almost weekly—and poachers finish them off almost as quickly. There are so many lessons here, hard and beautiful both.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Earth and The End of Nature
“Dan Drollette Jr. has ventured into the jungles of Vietnam and returned with an important, deeply reported story about endangered creatures in one of the last places on earth. Gold Rush in the Jungle is a fascinating trip into uncharted territory.”
—Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La
“What a find — a fast-paced journey into Vietnam's culture and spectacular landscape, told through the high-stakes hunt for undiscovered and wondrous animal species before they vanish. A carefully researched, important, and moving tale for all lovers of narrative nonfiction.”
—Jack El-Hai, author of The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness
“Charming prose peppered with science create a tapestry that transports the reader to far-away places where masses of humans destroy—and a few dedicated souls try to save—endangered wildlife. It’s well worth the reads.”
—George Archibald, founder of the International Crane Foundation and inaugural winner of the 2006 Indianapolis Prize
“[H]eartfelt and emotional, using Drollette’s personal and incredible experiences in Vietnam (and a few other places) to depict the biological ‘gold rush’ that has swept the war-torn nation…Drollette’s firsthand accounts of…a country synonymous with war in American thought is haunting. By what moved me quite literally to tears was his honest and gut-wrenching descriptions of the people that give everything they have to protect the rare wonders of our world that are so quickly slipping out of existence. People that go into science, especially conservation biology, usually do so from a very passionate place, and…Drollette has exposed that so beautifully. There is more to the book than that, of course…It is at times hilarious, and at other times disturbing. One thing is for sure, it is a hard book to put down….a gem amongst conservation books.”
“[S]ome brave scientists are dedicated to protecting [endangered creatures], and veteran science journalist Drollette ably details both the poetic and the practical reasons to defend such lost worlds and their bizarre residents.”