Ivory's Ghosts: The White Gold of History and the Fate of Elephants

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Grove Press, 2010 - History - 312 pages
Praised for the nuance and sensitivity with which it approaches one of the most fraught conservation issues we face today, John Frederick Walker's Ivory's Ghosts tells the astonishing story of the power of ivory through the ages, and its impact on elephants. Long before gold and gemstones held allure, humans were drawn to the "jewels of the elephant"--its great tusks. Ivory came to be prized in every culture of the world--from ancient Egypt to nineteenth-century America to modern Japan--for its beauty, rarity, and ability to be finely carved. Elephants tusks were transformed into sensuous figurines, sacred icons, scientific instruments, pistol grips, and piano keys. But the beauty came at an unfathomable cost. Walker lays bare the ivory trade's cruel connection with the slave trade and the increasing slaughter of elephants in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By the 1980s, elephant poaching reached levels that threatened the last great herds of the African continent, and led to a worldwide ban on the ancient international trade in tusks. But the ban has failed to stop poaching--or the emotional debate over what to do with the legitimate and growing stockpiles of ivory recovered from elephants that die of natural causes.

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User Review  - kaitanya64 - LibraryThing

A readable and engaging history of the use and allure of ivory in human history and how the fate of elephants both has been affected by ivory's popularity and has influenced the use and availability ... Read full review

IVORY'S GHOSTS: The White Gold of History and the Fate of Elephants

User Review  - Kirkus

The ancient, enduring allure of a substance linked forever to the destiny of its predominant provider, the wild elephant.Walker (A Certain Curve of Horn: The Hundred-Year Quest for the Great Sable ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

John Frederick Walker is a veteran journalist and conservationist who has been traveling and reporting on Africa since 1986. His work has appeared in The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Africa Geographic, Wildlife Conservation, and numerous other publications.

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