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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Boyd Varty Narrator: Boyd Varty Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Boyd Varty had an unconventional upbringing. He grew up on Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa, a place where man and nature strive for balance, where perils exist alongside wonders. Founded more than eighty years ago as a hunting ground, Londolozi was transformed into a nature reserve beginning in 1973 by Varty’s father and uncle, visionaries of the restoration movement. But it wasn’t just a sanctuary for the animals; it was also a place for ravaged land to flourish again and for the human spirit to be restored. When Nelson Mandela was released after twenty-seven years of imprisonment, he came to the reserve to recover.

Cathedral of the Wild is Varty’s memoir of his life in this exquisite and vast refuge. At Londolozi, Varty gained the confidence that emerges from living in Africa. “We came out strong and largely unafraid of life,” he writes, “with the full knowledge of its dangers.” It was there that young Boyd and his equally adventurous sister learned to track animals, raised leopard and lion cubs, followed their larger-than-life uncle on his many adventures filming wildlife, and became one with the land. Varty survived a harrowing black mamba encounter, a debilitating bout with malaria, even a vicious crocodile attack, but his biggest challenge was a personal crisis of purpose. An intense spiritual quest takes him across the globe and back again—to reconnect with nature and “rediscover the track.” 

Cathedral of the Wild is a story of transformation that inspires a great appreciation for the beauty and order of the natural world. With conviction, hope, and humor, Varty makes a passionate claim for the power of the wild to restore the human spirit.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Extremely touching . . . a book about growth and hope. The New York Times
     
  • It made me cry with its hard-won truths about human and animal nature. . . . Both funny and deeply moving, this book belongs on the shelf of everyone who seeks healing in wilderness. BookPage
  • This is a gorgeous, lyrical, hilarious, important book. Boyd Varty is as brilliant a storyteller and as kind a companion as you’ll ever meet. He describes a life that has been spent forging a new way of thinking and being, in harmony with both Nature writ large and the human nature that is you. Read this and you may find yourself instinctively beginning to heal old wounds: in yourself, in others, and just maybe in the cathedral of the wild that is our true home. Martha Beck, author of Finding Your Own North Star
  • Cathedral of the Wild is the captivating story of the joyful, occasionally terrifying, but always interesting life of Boyd Varty. It is also a tale of healing and of one family’s passion to restore our broken connection to nature. Be prepared to fall in love with Varty, his sister, his parents, his uncle, the ideals they fiercely hold to protect the African bush, and the wild animals and people that surround them. With his campfire wit and poet’s ear, Varty is a wonderful new voice in adventure writing.”

    Susan Casey, New York Times bestselling author of The Wave

  • “Cathedral of the Wild is the captivating story of the joyful, occasionally terrifying, but always interesting life of Boyd Varty. It is also a tale of healing, and of one family’s passion to restore our broken connection to nature. Be prepared to fall in love with Varty, his sister, his parents, his uncle, the ideals they fiercely hold to protect the African bush, and the wild animals and people that surround them. With his campfire wit and poet’s ear, Varty is a wonderful new voice in adventure writing. Susan Casey, author of The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean
  • From the first chapter of Cathedral of the Wild, Boyd Varty’s South Africa grabs your heart, rather like the giant mamba he encountered as a boy. The deadly snake moved on, but Varty’s stories stick. Here is a rare and moving tale of a young man who learns that the greatest dangers, at least to the human soul, are not to be found in the natural world, but in the emptiness beyond it—and that even mambas carry the power to heal. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle
  • [An] intense, insightful memoir that brings together several wise observations about the relationship between nature and humanity . . . Varty faces his own trials . . . leading to a spiritual renewal that elevates this memoir above the usual wilderness narrative. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “Extremely touching…a book about growth and hope.”

    New York Times

  • ‘In Cathedral of the Wild, this sensitive observer reflects on his life in the wilds but also his encounters with Nelson Mandela, who came to live on the game preserve after his release from prison. Stories of rhino charges, peace in nature, and a hard-earned tranquility.”

    Barnes&Noble.com, editorial review

  • “[An] intense, insightful memoir that brings together several wise observations about the relationship between nature and humanity…Varty faces his own trials… leading to a spiritual renewal that elevates this memoir above the usual wilderness narrative.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa has been the Varty family home for four generations. Located just west of Kruger National Park, it is a world-famous private wildlife preserve that attracts international visitors and broadcast-media attention. Varty recounts how his family restored dry, overgrazed land abandoned by ranchers, establishing a healthy habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including elephants, lions, impalas, baboons, and crocodiles. This entertaining family saga is filled with distinctive characters, especially the author’s uncle John Varty, an irrepressible filmmaker who has survived numerous life-threatening accidents and clashes with business partners and government officials. Like his uncle, the author has cheated death, having been cornered by a poisonous cobra, held by gun-bearing robbers, and attacked by a crocodile. Written by a relatively young man, this quick-reading memoir may be just the first of many lively African tales.”

    Booklist

  • “It made me cry with its hard-won truths about human and animal nature…Both funny and deeply moving, this book belongs on the shelf of everyone who seeks healing in wilderness.”

    BookPage

  • “Poignant memories of growing up in the wild…The young author and his sister, Bronwyn, received a terrific and rather charming, if occasionally hair-raising, education in the bush, chaperoned by their Shangaan nanny. They learned to drive the Land Rover by age eight and made friends with the dazzling menagerie living among them, including bushbucks, agama lizards, francolins, hyenas, and baboons…A visit to Londolozi from Nelson Mandela in 1990 is a highlight, as was Varty’s accompanying his uncle to film the migration of the wildebeest across the Serengeti…The final chapters chronicle the author’s youthful, inchoate ‘seeking’ in India and Arizona, until, by his late twenties, he recognized that Londolozi was home.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “This passionately spiritual memoir…is both highly personal and properly historical…This work will immerse listeners in the highs and lows of a complicated and unconventional upbringing that might serve as an intriguing guide to parenting as well as a travel adventure…Few memoirs approach its sense of warmth and intimacy, aided by the narration of the author. Highly recommended.”

    Library Journal (starred audio review)

  • “Varty mixes stories from his African game park—lions in the bush, elephants in the back garden, and baboons in luxury bedrooms—with observations from his search for mystical enlightenment in settings that range from Indian ashrams to sweat lodges in Arizona. The author’s narration lacks the polish others might bring to it. However, it is redeemed entirely by his intense conviction and his charming South African accent. Don’t miss hearing about Nelson Mandela’s visits to Londolozi.”

    AudioFile

  • “This is a gorgeous, lyrical, hilarious, important book. Boyd Varty is as brilliant a storyteller and as kind a companion as you’ll ever meet. He describes a life that has been spent forging a new way of thinking and being, in harmony with both Nature writ large and the human nature that is you. Read this and you may find yourself instinctively beginning to heal old wounds: in yourself, in others, and just maybe in the cathedral of the wild that is our true home.”

    Martha Beck, author of Finding Your Own North Star

  • “From the first chapter of Cathedral of the Wild, Boyd Varty’s South Africa grabs your heart, rather like the giant mamba he encountered as a boy. The deadly snake moved on, but Varty’s stories stick. Here is a rare and moving tale of a young man who learns that the greatest dangers, at least to the human soul, are not to be found in the natural world, but in the emptiness beyond it—and that even mambas carry the power to heal.”

    Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle

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