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About the Author

Mark Seal has been a journalist for 34 years. Currently a contributing editor at VANITY FAIR, he has written for a long list of major magazines and served as a collaborator on almost 20 non fiction books. He lives in Aspen, Colorado.


Seal, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a journalist for 34 years, expands on his portrait of British naturalist and filmmaker Joan Root, which appeared in the August 2006 issue of Vanity Fair following her brutal murder at her Kenyan farmhouse. Seal gives us the sad details up front and then leads us, gently and sensitively, through the story of this shy yet remarkable woman. The films she made with husband Alan Root became international hits, and one, Mysterious Castles of Clay, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1978. After her divorce, Joan Root became an ardent conservationist who fought poaching and illegal fishing on Lake Navaisha, a passion that may have led to her death. This is a great story built from many interviews of friends and family and from Root's extensive diaries and letters. What an adventure! What an example! Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/09; film rights were sold to Julia Roberts.-Ed.]-Margaret F. Dominy, Drexel Univ. Lib., Philadelphia Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

'Root's life and unsolved death are grippingly recounted by Vanity Fair writer Mark Seal in a new book.' HARPERS BAZAAR 'From her work with animals in Kenya to her untimely death, naturalist Joan Root's life was full of passion... [Seal] reveals the remarkable life of the woman who first filmed Africa's annual migrations' SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY 'a romantic, heroic and tragic biography... Seal's account of her daring organisation and subsidy of a "task force" to turn poachers over to the police is vivid, detailed and ultimately melancholy.' IRISH TIMES 'an extraordinary account of a woman who fell in love with a man and a country, and was let down by both... a life rife with intrigue and adventure.' WANDERLUST

Vanity Fair contributing editor Seal expands on his August 2006 article for the magazine in this sweeping and atmospheric biography of the conservationist and wildlife filmmaker Joan Root, who was brutally murdered in her home on Lake Naivasha, Kenya, a region she was trying to save from poachers and environmental ruin. Intrigued by Root's suspicious death and cinematic life with husband and nature documentarian Alan Root, Seal mines Joan's diaries and writings to offer a lush love story set in the heyday of British colonialism in Nairobi, where amid the decadence and dilettantism, Alan fell in love with the lovely Joan Thorpe, an "Ingrid Bergman lookalike" and daughter of an English adventurer. Their partnership produced award-winning documentaries (their 1978 film on termite mounds, Mysterious Castles of Clay, was narrated by Orson Welles and nominated for an Oscar) and television specials. Their inability to have children was a source of constant sorrow for the couple, and despite the romance of their joint pursuits, their marriage unraveled. Seal's effort is a seamless story redolent with adventure, passion and heartbreak; its beauty nearly eclipses the tragedy of Root's untimely-and unsolved-death in 2006. Photos. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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