A review of Douglas Adams’s favorite work in celebration of Towel Day!
Publication Date: October 13, 1992
There are some works, both fiction and nonfiction, that radiate affection from the author for the topic and Last Chance to See is one of those books. If nothing else, the reader comes away with the sense that Adams loves the bizarre and finds immense humor in the everyday. I didn’t think it was possible to like the author more but after reading Last Chance to See that impossible feat has been accomplished. This reader is now heartily kicking herself for never seeking out this nonfiction gem.
The great humor that defines Adams work seems to be who he was as a person (Douglas Adams died of a heart attack in May of 2001). A great scene comes at the very start of the book when Carwardine and Adams meet in the little African town from which they will embark to find the elusive Aye-Aye and Carwardine must break the news that they have to sleep on the floor. Adams relishes the experience and considers it coming home as he feels he lucked into his life with one good idea. That same endearing and self-deprecating humor defines the adventure to come. Adams is in awe of his world but not so much that he can’t laugh at its oddities with his fellow “monkey descendants.”
Adams and Carwardine explore the idea of how different we as humans are from the world around us. We have a massive superiority complex that places us above the animals. We are more important and they are disposable because we overlook their sameness to us. Adams narrative is as insightful and educational as it is just plain fun to read. If the ultimate goal is to make the world aware of the danger to our greatest assets, Adams presents the topic in a way that everyone could read and enjoy. At its base is a vast resource of information about animals we don’t hear a lot about in our daily lives. There were several species I’d never heard of before reading this book. There were many species I’d never want to meet.
Last Chance to See was originally formulated as a radio broadcast for BBC4 in 1989 (the ultimate trip that the book transcribes took place in 1888). The broadcast was very successful and the idea was recently formulated for the small screen starring the fabulous Stephen Fry in the role previously occupied by the deceased Douglas Adams.
Last Chance to See now stands as my favorite work by Douglas Adams and is a clear testament to why Adams and his work have fans around the world celebrating Towel Day. He was truly a great humorist and truly a good man.
If this sounds like a book for you, read an excerpt and buy Last Chance to see by Douglas Adams on