Douglas Adams, Last Chance To See

Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine is an extensive late-1980s trip report: Adams and Carwardine traveled around the world to find species that were about to be extinct, and the people trying to preserve them. The book is a sna…

Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine is an extensive late-1980s trip report: Adams and Carwardine traveled around the world to find species that were about to be extinct, and the people trying to preserve them.The book is a snapshot of the late 1980s, and interesting alone for the things that have changed (or not!) since then. Consider a Shanghai whose soundtrack consists of Richard Clayderman mixed with bicycle bells (as opposed to Volkswagen clones’ horns, and construction noise — but even that was 5 years ago), at a time when the Baiji is the subject of conservation efforts further up the river, and a favorite local brand for all things from beer to hotels (to fund the conservation effort). Today, the Baiji is functionally extinct, and the conservation efforts focus on the finless porpoise which is only mentioned in passing in “Last Chance to See.”Consider New Zealand’s obsession with clean shoes at immigration (no change there as of last year), and the threatened Kakapo — a species whose entire population is indeed catalogued on Wikipedia, by name; yet, that population has actually doubled since the book was written.Adams was a master story teller. The stories he tells here — many of them hilarious, despite the sad subject matter — are worth being read and remembered.