Vicki Constantine Croke (Login chapteraday) Forum Owner
The Lady and the Panda by Vicki Constantine Croke Buy book: $16.34
"Boston Globe" columnist Croke reveals the true story of Ruth Harkness, a bohemian socialite and dress designer who in 1936 took over her dead husband's expedition into Tibet to capture the first live giant panda.
Reading about this woman's early travels:
"After a semester at the University of Colorado and an experiment teaching English in Cuba, Ruth, with twenty-five dollars as her war chest, headed north to New York City"
brings up old feelings, as in "Why didn't you ever...?"
I realize that I probably need a dose of the "tolerance" that Suzanne spoke of today, but I am having trouble relating to the characters, especially considering that the story is a true one. My interest in the book so far is very limited. I can't help but think if people like the Harkness's had been a little more forward thinking, the panda would not be on the verge of extinction in the wild today. I know, hindsight and all that, but still, awareness of the WHOLE world and ALL its creatures is something for which I strive. To exalt a time that seems dim in this type of awareness is difficult because the issue is so important to me. I will keep reading the excerpts to see if the author can bring the history of the era to life and put things into understandable perspective.
You got me thinking. Now these values shock us or cause us to wonder at them, but once they were accepted values. Even logical, rational, 'good' values.
What I wonder is, considering how much our values have changed since the time this book portrays, what will they be in another 100 years? Will they look in horror at the SUV, vans and trucks that crowd our highways and wonder how we could do it? Will they look at the large homes and wonder that only a few people lived in them? What will the future say of us?
You got me thinking. And, after all, that is one purpose of the book clubs
I was a little curious to know also what he died of. Maybe it'll come up later in the story. I find it very interesting considering it's a true story and I don't know anything about the time frame all this happened in. it's like a good history book. I read the second part before the first and the relationship they had with each other drew me in I totally understand the complex state of being alone "the satisfaction of solitued played against the chronic sense of lonliness" and how "they seemed to grow closer while apart" I'm going to read more of this story I know that for a fact.
I agree with Sandy and LindaGL. They bring up very important facts. However, at the time the zoos thought they were doing a good thing. Today zoos such as the Bronx Zoo, NYC and Busch Gardens, (FL) take wonderful care of wild animals..no cages. I enjoy reading about fearless exploits of women, past and present. It gives me courage and pride. It allows me and, I'm sure, other women to see ourselves in a more active, poweful role in a still male-dominated world.
I definitely will continue this read. As others have said, from the 21st century, the entire idea of tracking panda for its pelt--abhorent. Capturing one for a zoo, nearly equally so. The idea of going into the wild, traveling abroad so casually, marrying someone who you could share a life of adventure with, intriguing. His death of throat cancer, her decision to join the expedition, the cut today is definitely one that begs for completion. I have recently read Anne Morough Lindberg and biographies of Eleanor Roosevelt and the Founding Mothers. Husbands and wives who lived in a different time and social strata that allowed them "privileges" that bring moral issues of our day into a new light.
A recommendation for the many women who mentioned that they were interested and intrigued by stories of adventurous women of the past: Many years ago I read a book called "The Wilder Shores of Love". It sounds kind of racy but is, in fact, four shortish biographies of Victorian women who gave up their secure and comfortable lives to marry and follow their husbands into all kinds of adventures. Just one example: Isobel Burton, who married Richard Burton; not the actor, but the Victorian explorer who brought us for example, The Tales of the Arabian Nights.
I no longer know the author's name, but the book is worth looking for.