Last Chance to See chronicles Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine's trips to far flung places to see, and call attention to, endangered and borderline extinct animal species.
I listened to the audio, read by Douglas himself (except for the very end which is read by Mark Carwardine), and it was brilliant. Not only does Douglas really bring each destination and trip to life, but he does so in a way that allows the reader to understand his feelings regarding these things, but without sounding judgmental or like a finger-wagging nag.
And on top of that, his sense of humor and brilliant mind are like sunshine on a mostly cloudy day. It's all seriousseriousserious... then WHAM! Unexpected funny. What I wouldn't have given to be tagging along for this trip! DA, exotic locations, trying to help endangered animals, and my goodness, if the experts that they talked to were all half as funny and awesome as DA portrayed them, I'd have needed some adult diapers so that when I pissed myself laughing nobody would know and I could keep on trekkin'. As it was, just listening to him imitate them, I kept giggling uncontrollably. Just imagine that with facial expressions. Oh man.
But this is really a serious book. It's a bit dated now, from the late 80s or so, but the issues it contains are just as prevalent now as they were then, if not more so. Some of the plights he described, particularly that of the Yangtze River Dolphin, the Baiji. Evolutionarily blind because of the muddy river water, they existed for thousands of years by echolocation, and then when China started to develop industrially and started to use the river with powered boats etc, the dolphins could no longer hear, became confused and would be hit by boats or propellers, or get caught in fishing nets and die either way. And that's not to mention the pollution and poisons in the water from industrial waste, or the fact that people still eat them. Or did, before they were declared "functionally extinct" in 2006. *sigh* Just the way that DA described these poor dolphins broke my heart - blind, confused, hungry due to lack of food due to human fishermen, in constant fear and pain from the pollution and noise pollution in the water, and with nowhere to go... it makes me really hate humanity sometimes. But, in the Chinese people's defense, it seems that they truly didn't know that there were dolphins in the river until almost too late, and then they scrambled to help... But too late won. :(
I definitely recommend this book. It's an important and brilliant one. And it's Douglas Adams. That should be enough.