New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2009. Octavo, fine copies black and white photographs, fine copy in dustwrapper.
Ivory came to be prized in every culture of the world for its beauty and rarity and ability to be finely carved. Starting in the Ice Age, when ivory was first imbued with symbolic importance, John Frederick Walker takes the reader on a journey that traces the material's sensuous, creamy-white gleam through the fabric of human history, and shows how trade in this much-desired material came to shape human, and animal, history. Each age and each culture, from ancient Egypt, Rome, India, and China, to medieval Europe and the Muslim world, to nineteenth-century America and Victorian Britain to modern Japan, found its own artistic, religious, decorative, functional, extravagant, and even industrial uses - sensuous figurines, sacred icons, scientific instruments, pistol grips, and piano keys - for the remarkable, ever-so-carvable material that comes from the teeth of elephants and a handful of other mammals. 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. Ivory's Ghosts is an engrossing narrative that layers rich history, first-person reporting, and deep reflection into a book that will inform, entrance, andmove the reader.
Price: $20.00 AU