Great books can take you on journeys that you never knew were even possible and Jay Kirk has written a great book about the journey through life that Carl Akeley. The book Kingdom Under Glass by Jay Kirk is one of those great books that was handed to me and after a busy night of work, I picked it up hoping to escape into a world that I knew little about and Jay Kirk took me through the life of Carl Akeley and into the jungles of Africa. For 3 days, this book did not leave my side until I literally devoured it.
Kingdom Under Glass introduces you to Carl along with a series of characters from P.T. Barnum to Teddy Roosevelt in this historical novel based on the real life adventures of this great taxidermist and hunter. Starting out at a very young age, Carl had an early appreciation for taxidermy and began at a very young age and that passion carried on through some of the greatest museums and works of artistic taxidermy in the country. His work with paper mache molds in the early 1900’s was cutting edge at the time and revolutionized the entire industry.
Akeley was one of the first men to take a Mountain Gorilla and bring it to a national museum. That hunt changed him forever and his work to protect the gorilla and the conservation preserve that was set up because of his great work is still in existence today. The Akeley Hall of African Mammals in New York’s Museum of Natural History is still in existence today and holds priceless trophies taken by Carl and many others as a way to preserve the mammals that they thought might disappear and go the way of the Buffalo. Carl and Mickie Akeley traveled throughout Africa at a time when few ventured into the jungles of Somaliland, the Congo, and British East Africa. After a hunt with Teddy Roosevelt a bull elephant attacked Carl high on Mount Kenya and was rescued by Mickie and continued on with the safari.
Jay Kirk is an exceptional writer and Kingdom Under Glass is a book that I will be recommending for years to come because it succeeded tremendously by taking me on a journey into a world away from my day to day life and it taught me about a great man who made a difference in our world.