In this epic account of an extraordinary life lived during remarkable times, Jay Kirk follows the adventures of legendary explorer and taxidermist Carl Akeley, who revolutionized taxidermy and environmental conservation and created the famed African Hall at New York's Museum of Natural History. Akeley risked death time and again in the jungles of Africa as he stalked animals for his dioramas and hobnobbed with outsized personalities of the era, such as Theodore Roosevelt and P. T. Barnum. Kingdom Under Glass is "a rollicking biography...an epic adventure... and] a beguiling novelistic portrait of a man and an era straining to hear the call of the wild" (Publishers Weekly).
About the Author
Jay Kirk's nonfiction has been published in Harper's, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, and The Nation. His work has been anthologized in Best American Crime Writing 2003 and 2004, and Best American Travel Writing 2009 (edited by Simon Winchester). He is a recipient of a 2005 Pew Fellowship in the Arts and is a MacDowell Fellow. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
"An epic display of one man’s life…Emotional, real, and incredibly detailed."—Eric Simons, San Francisco Chronicle
"Kingdom Under Glass reminds me of Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo--a mesmerizing, true story of a magnificent obsession."—Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind
"A thrill ride…full of exotic safaris, brutal killing, and bloody encounters with the very creatures Akeley was trying to preserve."—NPR’s All Things Considered
"One might say that an author who stumbles across the story of a man who wrestles a leopard to death, stuffs the first Jumbo for Barnum & Bailey, and perfects the art of mounting dead gorillas really can't go wrong. But Jay Kirk has created such a boisterously good-natured account of the life of the great taxidermist and conservationist Carl Akeley that a tale already well-nigh-incredible becomes in his hands just wonderfully sensational. This is a true gem of a book, well worthy of its extraordinary subject."—Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman and Atlantic: a Biography of the Ocean
"A jungle adventure story into the heart of Africa, at first, and then, what might seem like the campy world of taxidermy and those great museum dioramas but, ultimately, Jay Kirk is telling the story of the man who taught America how to see nature."--Jack Hitt, author of Off the Road
"Until reading Kingdom Under Glass I didn't think it was possible to use the words "fascinating" and "taxidermy" in the same sentence (at least not with a straight face)...but much of the book is about preserving dead animals, and fascinating it certainly is. This is thanks to gonzo narration by Jay Kirk, who has also written on travel and true crime. His prose is daring - sometimes even a bit wild - and he worms his way convincingly into the minds of his subjects."--The Washington Post
"With a scholar’s relish and a novelist’s narrative flair…Kirk conjures the life and exploits of early 20th century taxidermist Carl Akeley."--Mother Jones
"A genuinely rip-roaring read!"--Booklist
"A beguiling, novelistic portrait of a man and an era straining to hear the call of the wild."--Publishers Weekly
"Kirk skillfully illuminates an era that saw ‘a dawning of sensitivity to the plight of wildlife’... The author shines in his reanimation of Africa’s inherent dangers as Akeley risked his life on safari battling ravenous leopards, charging elephants, five-hour hikes without rations and debilitating fevers—including the one that would take his life in 1926. The feral escapades of a creative wunderkind stitched together with novelistic zeal." --Kirkus Reviews
"In Kingdom Under Glass, Kirk strives for the same liveliness that Akeley imparted to his creations, writing with such specificity, color and drama it appears he's looking over Akeley's shoulder."--BookPage
"In painting Akeley's lifelong passion for preserving rare animals and tying it to modern-day conservation and environmental goals, Kirk brings together Victorian and modern ideas about nature and humankind in smart, sensitive ways."--The Boston Globe
"With novelistic details, Kirk's book re-creates the adventures of a brooding genius who went big-game hunding with Theodore Roosevelt and invented a new camera that revolutionized photography and film."--USA Today