National Geographic : 1968 Jun
Eyewitness to 48 major rocket launchings and author of four books on space exploration, writer William Roy Shelton tells us of a lunar landing envisioned by Greek satirist Lucian in A.D. 160 and details scientists' plans for travel to the moon and later to our sister planets. Between these two extremes, the book vividly records mile stones of rocketry and space investigation: the Chinese "arrows of flying fire" used to repel Mongol hordes in the 13th century, Dr. Robert H. Goddard's 1926 launching of the first workable liquid-fueled rocket; the record-breaking balloon flight of Ex plorer II in 1935, sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the U. S. Army Air Corps; Germany's wartime V-2 missiles; today's orbiting clutter of "space junk," the result of 800 success ful launches. Today's rockets, of course, are the covered wagons of the Space Age. My guess is that a future edition of Man's Conquest of Space will contain a chapter recording an actual landing on the moon. Meanwhile, this edition will be essential for comprehending that great event when it comes. Cucumbers Slake Anteaters' Thirst As stirring in its way as the lift-off of a rocket is the roar of a lion in the African night. I heard it first as we sat beside a camp fire at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania with Dr. Louis S. B. Leakey, the brilliant anthropologist-paleontologist whose discoveries of prehistoric hominid fossils have excited the scientific world. It was toward the end of our memorable stay with Dr. and Mrs. Leakey, and Donna and I had all but exhausted ourselves setting some sort of record for round-the-clock animal watching: 55 species in three weeks. We listened long into the evening to the chorus of lions, hyenas, and nocturnal insects as Louis Leakey talked of his experiences with African wildlife over the years: of hyenas that attack humans; of flies that kill lions; of anteaters that cannot lap water, but slake their thirst by eating cucumbers. Fascinated, Dr. Melville Bell Grosvenor, Editor-in-Chief of the GEOGRAPHIC, suggested that Dr. Leakey distill his intimate knowl edge of the subject into a book. Thus was born the idea for Afri can Animals, fourth in the new Special Publications series. In this exciting book, Dr. Leakey draws on 65 years as a native of Kenya and adopted member of the Kikuyu tribe. He writes of his encounters with east African mammals, from tiny ground squirrels to the great elephants of Uganda. You trek with him into the legendary game preserves of the Serengeti Plain, Ngorongoro Crater, and Lake Amboseli. You learn how the lion stalks the antelope on a tangent, so his prey will think he is only passing by. The cheetah, you discover, spurns meat older than one hour, but his leopard cousin eats carrion. And you read the colorful legends of the Kikuyu hunter: how, once upon a time, the chameleon won his race with the swifter hare by holding onto its furry tail-thus being the first to sit down at the finish line. Brilliantly illustrated in the style of Jane Goodall's My Friends the Wild Chimpanzees, this book presents Africa's remarkable wild creatures as observed by a versatile scientist who has lived most of his life among them. It is this quality of personal partici pation that pervades all your Society's Special Publications and, with their beauty of illustration, accounts for their extraordinary and lasting appeal to readers of all ages. THE END 849 Slant-eyed caracal arches tufted ears; a graceful gerenuk forages at a blossoming bush. African Animals captures these timid creatures on film. KODACHROMFS BY THASEDANIEL(C N.GS .