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Madagascar: A World out of Time
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Authors: Alison Jolly and John Mack.
Editors: Steve Dietz, Jane D. Marsching, Thomas Seelig, and Robert Booth.
Foreword by: Gerald Durrell and Frans Lanting.
Photographer: Frans Lanting.
ISBN-10: 0-89381-422-9 (0893814229)
ISBN-13: 978-0-89381-422-9 (9780893814229)
Language: English
No. of Pages: 143
Dimensions: 237mm x 313mm x 20mm

Item Identification Code (UID#): 726
Shelving Location: Art & Photography
Estimated Value: £75.00
Purchase Date: 8 August 2006
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Price Paid: Log In to view this


A World out of Time

Aperture Foundation (1990).
Hardcover Book with Dust Jacket

This book is primarily a portfolio of almost one hundred photographs taken in Madagascar by Frans Lanting, who has been described as "the most versatile wilderness photographer working today". The photographs were commissioned and financed by the National Geographic Society.

The text is written by world-famous primatologist Alison Jolly, who has been studying lemurs for most of her life, and John Mack of the British Museum, who has carried out extensive fieldwork in Madagascar, and is an expert on Malagasy culture.

The introduction is by another famous name in conservation – to whom Madagascar was particularly important – Gerald Durrell. The book also contains a preface by Frans Lanting.

Text from the Front Flap

This unprecedented work by Frans Lanting, one of the world's leading wildlife and environmental photographers, reveals the astonishing beauty as well as the wrenching conflicts of a paradise in peril.

"May I announce to you that Madagascar is the naturalists' promised land?" wrote the Frenchman Philippe de Commerson in 1771. "Nature seems to have retreated there into a private sanctuary, where she could work on different models from any she used elsewhere. There you meet bizarre and marvelous forms at every step."

More than two centuries later this little known Indian Ocean island has gained world scientific attention as a unique laboratory of evolution.

Home to Madagascar's spiny desert, baobab forests, and humid jungles are 8,000 species of plants found nowhere else on earth, 400 species of reptiles and amphibians, half of the world's chameleons, hundreds of exotic birds and mammals, and two dozen kinds of lemurs which constitute a separate branch of primate evolution.

Frans Lanting's extensive work in Madagascar has produced a treasure trove of spectacular images – 100 color photographs that illuminate an enormous dark area in our knowledge of history and evolution. Most importantly, they give vivid testimony to the need for conservation at a time when the Malagasy practice of tavy, slash-and-burn agriculture, threatens Madagascar as never before.

Lanting's photographs and text are accompanied by highly informative essays: Dr. Alison Jolly, world authority on lemurs and Madagascar's natural history, discusses environmental perils and conservation efforts; Dr. John Mack, author and anthropologist with the British Museum of Mankind, contributes an essay on the exotic Malagasy culture. Gerald Durrell, renowned naturalist, says in his introduction to Madagascar: A World Out of Time: "It is essential that the rest of the world realize the biological importance of the island ...and hurries to the rescue of this extraordinary comer of the planet. I know this book will help achieve that result."

About the Photographer and Authors (from the Front and Back Flaps)

FRANS LANTING was born in 1951 in the Netherlands, where he earned a master's degree in Environmental Economics. In 1978 he moved to California and began taking photographs. In a few short years he became one of the most published magazine photographers working today. His work appears regularly in National Geographic and other leading publications, such as Geo, Stern, and International Wildlife. Among the numerous international awards he has been given are top honors from World Press Photo, which selected his work in Madagascar and Antarctica as the best nature stories of 1988 and 1989. Although primarily known for his innovative wildlife photography, Mr. Lanting sees the relationship between man and nature as the central theme in his work.

DR. ALISON JOLLY first visited Madagascar in 1962 to study ringtailed lemurs and white sifaka. Since then she has written books and articles on lemur behavior, on the evolution of human behavior, and on the conservation of Madgascar's [sic] wild treasures. Dr. Jolly currently teaches at Princeton University.

DR. JOHN MACK is a cultural anthropologist at the British Museum's Museum of Mankind. He has undertaken extensive field work in Madagascar and is the author of two books on the subject.

GERRALD [sic] DURRELL, O.B.E., is one of the world's most respected conservationists. Born in India in 1925, he has lived for the past 30 years on the island of Jersey, where he founded and still oversees the renowned Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust.

Text from the Back Cover

MADAGASCAR: A WORLD OUT OF TIME captures the wonder of a magical place where evolution took an extraordinary turn. As seen by photographer Frans Lanting, the enchanting lemur, the ferocious aye aye or the primitive baobab tree reveal Madagascar's changing culture and endangered ecosystem.

Madagascar is a naturalists' promised land. It is home to an overwhelming diversity of flora and fauna, including 8,000 species of plants unique to the island, hundreds of indigenous birds and mammals, and two dozen kinds of lemurs constituting an entirely separate branch of primate evolution.

Frans Lanting has done pioneering work in Madagascar, capturing spectacular images of landscapes, people, and animals never documented before. His photographs and accompanying text illuminate a complex web of nature and culture in one of the most exotic places on earth.

Highly informative essays by Dr. Alison Jolly, the doyenne of Madagascar's natural history, discuss environmental perils and new conservation efforts. Dr. John Mack contributes a thoughtful essay on the rich Malagasy culture: Gerald Durrell, noted author and head of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, contributes the introduction.

Introduction by Gerald Durrell (from Page 10)

I once described Madagascar as being shaped like a badly made omelette lying off the east coast of Africa but containing – as a properly made omelette should – a wealth of good things inside it.

My wife and I have been lucky enough to have visited and studied this, the world's fourth largest island, over a number of years, and each time we go there we become more enchanted with its people and its fantastic flora and fauna, nearly all unique to this giant land.

Our first impressions were formed in the colorful, pulsating capital city of Antananarivo fondly known as Tana. On market day, crowds of smiling Malagasy make then way down the central boulevard and side streets as if in a bed of mushrooms: White umbrellas guard each little stall, where you can buy anything from a chile to a chicken. The Malagasy are an elegant mix of cultures and races and whether you are in Tana or a remote coastal village, the cheerfulness and courtesy with which you are greeted are remarkable.

Madagascar's best-known animals are the ring-tailed lemurs, which saunter through the forests, with great élan, a pinkish bloom to their gray fur, holding their tails aloft, bannerlike and looking as though they have just left Aubrey Beardsley's studio after a sitting. Among the thirty or so other kinds of lemur is the indri. The size of a three-year-old child, it is impressively attired in glistening black and white fur. Its wild and haunting cries, not unlike the songs of whales, pervade the forest with a strange melancholy. But there are many other animals and plants found nowhere else in the world, such as multi-colored chameleons with swiveling eyes; and the majestic baobab trees, their swollen trunks crowned with emerald leaves.

In this book has been gathered the expertise of Dr. John Mack, who has a deep knowledge of the Malagasy people and their culture, and Dr. Alison Jolly, surely the doyenne of Madagascar's natural history, with her vast experience of its flora and fauna. Coupled with this are brilliant illustrations and text by Frans Lanting, whose photographs are so beautiful to look at that you practically hear, smell, and feel the great island as well.

This is a truly timely book, because Madagascar, its plants, its animals, and its very people are in the gravest danger. Centuries of pressures on the land from intensive farming and herding have taken their toll. Once nearly covered in trees, the island has less than a fifth of its forests left, and the denuded central region bakes like a brick in the sun.

It is essential that the rest of the world realize the biological importance of the island and the plight of its people, and hurry to the rescue of this extraordinary corner of the planet. I know this book will help achieve that result. Madagascar must be Saved for the sake of the Malagasy people, for the sake of its forests and their Unique inhabitants, and so that future generations may have the privilege of hearing the mournful song of the indri echoing through the green oceans of leaves.


  • Contents
  • Introduction by Gerald Durrell
  • Preface by Frans Lanting
  • The Naturalists' Promised Land by Alison Jolly
  • Land of Baobabs
  • An Emerald World
  • Islands of Stone
  • Forgotten Shores
  • The Ways of the Ancestors by John Mack
  • On the Edge of Survival by Alison Jolly
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgements


  • This publication is underwritten in part by the Professional Photography Division of Eastman Kodak Company through its continuing support of photography in journalism.

Condition of Item

Very good. Corners lightly bumped. Minor chips to upper corners of dust jacket.

Refer to the glossary for definitions of terms used to describe the condition of items.


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