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For over two thousand years, unicorns have inspired, enchanted, and eluded humanity. The beast appears in Old Testament texts and Greek and Roman natural histories; Christians adopted it as a symbol of Christ, the Middle Ages as a symbol of courtly love. There was a brisk trade in unicorn parts in medieval and Renaissance times, and travelers regularly reported sightings into the modern era. But by the early twentieth century the real-life contenders for the beast had been ruled out, and scientists concluded that the unicorn never existed. It turns out they were a little hasty.

Where did the unicorn come from, and how was it accepted as a part of the animal kingdom for so long? Chris Lavers argues that although the unicorn of our imagination isn't real, traces of its character can be found in existing species. In this lively and vivid exploration of the natural world, Lavers follows the beast's trail to the plateaus of India and into the jungles of Africa to unearth the flesh and blood ancestors of our iconic unicorn.

Along the way, Lavers introduces the peoples, historians, explorers, traders, and scientists who believed in the unicorn, and describes their efforts to pin it down. Its changing status—from one-horned ass to religious symbol to pure myth—reflects man's journey from superstition to scientific understanding, ultimately leading to a greater insight into the natural world.

Published: HarperCollins on Sep 8, 2009
ISBN: 9780061900846
List price: $11.79
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This is a non-fiction book looking at the persistent image of the unicorn, as it appears in ancient texts and then later adopted as a symbol in Christianity. The author looks at what real creatures may have been a unicorn, moving onto its use in symbolism and the search for it in India and Africa. It was an interesting read, which takes in romanticism, colonialism and religion as well as the natural world. I would have liked something more on the New Age use of the unicorn which is just mentioned, but mostly it was a fascinating read.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I wanted to like this book, but it just wasn't that interesting to me. Has a very condescending tone, as well.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.

Reviews

This is a non-fiction book looking at the persistent image of the unicorn, as it appears in ancient texts and then later adopted as a symbol in Christianity. The author looks at what real creatures may have been a unicorn, moving onto its use in symbolism and the search for it in India and Africa. It was an interesting read, which takes in romanticism, colonialism and religion as well as the natural world. I would have liked something more on the New Age use of the unicorn which is just mentioned, but mostly it was a fascinating read.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I wanted to like this book, but it just wasn't that interesting to me. Has a very condescending tone, as well.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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