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Book Jacket

Father of Lions


A true-to-life narrative of one man's remarkable quest to save the Mosul Zoo.
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Discuss Father of Lions by Louise Callaghan:
Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

Created: 01/13/20

Replies: 23

Posted Jan. 13, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2143

Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)


Posted Feb. 01, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 245

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I don’t usually read nonfiction but this book reads like a novel. I learned so much, too, that I didn’t know about Mosul and the difficult lives of its citizens. I also had to stop reading towards the end occasionally because I was actually getting heart palpitations wondering if the rescue mission would be a success after all the roadblocks, both physical and emotional. It’s a wonderful book that everyone should read


Posted Feb. 01, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
PinkLady

Join Date: 01/22/18

Posts: 78

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

I thought the book was excellent and have already recommended it to several friends. It is so much more than just a book about animals. It's about struggle, humanity, the destruction of life in the time of war. The writing allowed you to feel the their daily lives. Plus, I loved the crazy Abu Laith's character.


Posted Feb. 01, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 220

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

The most valuable aspect of the book to me was the revelations about the political upheaval and conditions in Iraq. The animal story wasn't really that moving to me.


Posted Feb. 01, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rco

Join Date: 11/04/18

Posts: 19

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

I thought it was well written and researched and made very real for me what people living in places of war and turmoil are going through daily. I pray I will never be in that situation.


Posted Feb. 01, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susiej

Join Date: 10/15/14

Posts: 264

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

I thought this book was extremely weak in many ways. As mentioned in responding to another question, I believe the character of Abu-Laith is not developed in a believable manner and lacks detail and factual support. He does not even come across as a major character in the book - he is absent for large sections of it. I understand that this is because of the war that is going on, but then why is this book supposedly about the zoo in Mosul - a zoo in which three animals survive with the extensive aid of an individual other than "The Father of Lions" - and not more about the living conditions and daily life of all citizens in this city during ISIS occupation. It seems as though the book is titled as it is because other similar memoirs have recently captured a place on best seller lists and perhaps its publisher felt this title would draw more readers. I believe no character, with the exception of the veterinary doctor who enters the book quite late, is very well developed. In addition, while it did open my eyes to the realities of life in a country torn to shreds by war, it does not provide adequate detail to substantiate its claims.
The plot shifts from city to city and home to home so quickly, and situations unrelated to the zoo are totally ignored, that this reader found it very hard to follow. The war itself was more a focus than the zoo, the character of Abu-Laith has so little to do with the zoo, and finally, so little of the zoo is saved that this book seems to me to be a total anomaly. Where was the editor?


Posted Feb. 01, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Maggie

Join Date: 01/01/16

Posts: 241

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

It was a well written book. I normally do not read non fiction, but this read for me like fiction. I think it is important to read books that tell us the horrors that are going on in other countries right now. ISIS is frightening.


Posted Feb. 02, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
TerryPark

Join Date: 09/03/19

Posts: 17

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

I was surprised that my interest was held throughout the story. I agree with SusieJ on a lot of her observations--not much of a zoo, a scattered telling which might have benefited from editing--yet I was taken with the description of life in Iraq, with the daily life of the people, of the vet who dared so much for the animals. I am glad I stuck with the story. It took me somewhere I have never been and am not likely to visit, and painted a picture of lives led in a way that is very different from what I have seen in our country.


Posted Feb. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 265

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

I found the part of the story about the impact of the war and of ISIS on Mosul more interesting and compelling than the story about the zoo. When you get right down to it, it wasn't much of a zoo, and it wasn't really saved -- nor was Abu Laith the one who saved it, though he certainly had an impact.


Posted Feb. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
christineb

Join Date: 10/13/11

Posts: 64

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

I thought it was a beautiful story of the best part of humanity. I loved the principal characters and how they all came together to save zoo animals, but also the parts of themselves that had been psychologically damaged by the war conditions they were living in. I think the zoo, as small as it was gave them all purpose.


Posted Feb. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jennie r

Join Date: 08/06/17

Posts: 39

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

I’d give it three stars (out of 5). The first half seemed to drag. The second half not as much. It is non-fiction, but as another reader mentioned, Abu Laith’s character seemed a bit exaggerated and overblown. Learning more about this war torn country was interesting, but this isn’t a book I’d recommend to a friend.


Posted Feb. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorinned

Join Date: 10/13/14

Posts: 103

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. The setting in Mosul and Iraq was interesting. The details of the ongoing warring factions that passed through the region destroying and killing the citizens was enlightening as we've heard so much about the struggles between tribes/factions in Iraq for the past almost twenty years. I found myself taken with the story of Abu Laith, his love for Zombie, the lion, and his struggles to save the animals in the zoo.


Posted Feb. 05, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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bookfabulous

Join Date: 08/01/19

Posts: 2

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

Very heartwarming to know that in spite of all the destruction, violence and hate around his family, Abu Laith not only held on to his humanity but also proved a great role model for his children and community through his actions. A major contrast to ISIS who preached one thing and then in private were far from pious.
Excellent book.


Posted Feb. 05, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynne z

Join Date: 01/06/18

Posts: 12

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

The story of Abu Laith and the zoo would have been more effective as a magazine article or short feature with photographs. I suggest to readers of the book to go online and view actual photos of the zoo and the animals. I even found a photo of Abu Laith in my search. There were too many unnecessary details involving Abu Laith and much of the story seemed repetitive. I would have liked to have read more about the Isis occupation of Mosul. This is not a book that I would recommend to others.


Posted Feb. 05, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
BuffaloGirl

Join Date: 01/13/18

Posts: 90

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

It’s very interesting to note the differing opinions on the quality of the writing, the details and narrative of the individuals and their lives, the descriptions of war, occupation, and privation. I did enjoy the book; probably most because it gave me a perspective of everyday life in Mosul during the ISIS occupation. It is a book I have recommended to others whom I know enjoy this type human/animal interest story.


Posted Feb. 07, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
irishgirliereads

Join Date: 02/07/20

Posts: 5

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

Although it took me awhile to get into, I did enjoy this one overall because of the different perspective on war and IsIS and Iraq. I appreciate being transported to somewhere I’ve never been and know little about. The range of opinions above let me think this would be a good one for a book club to discuss


Posted Feb. 10, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kathleenb

Join Date: 09/14/12

Posts: 100

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

I give it a 4* it took me a little while to get into the story. Then I raced through it when Dr. Amir came along.
Abi Laigh was very entertaining but very immature also. I really got into the relationship between the Sunni - Shia, and ISIS. The book was very informative and gave a birds-eye view of the war from the individual families suffering the effects of the War. You think mankind's history would be a lesson for all people not to war but obviously not. I think this would be a very good book for book clubs and may suggest to ours. I don't think my group is keen on non-fiction though.


Posted Feb. 10, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
johnw

Join Date: 03/11/12

Posts: 69

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

Loved it! The title can be misleading as for me it was more about the struggles of people caught up in a war around them and the ongoing challenges each day.


Posted Feb. 10, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kellyo

Join Date: 09/15/16

Posts: 53

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

I enjoyed reading this book. Overall, I think the author did a respectable job of telling the story of what it was like to live in Iraq during an ISIS invasion. There were many things I learned about ISIS and the people and culture of Iraq from reading this book that I did not always get from news stories on t.v. I do agree with some of the things Susis J mentioned. I feel the title was a little misleading. The story did go into the Mosul Zoo and its keeper, Abu Laith, but it also went into what it was like for the citizens to live under ISIS occupation and war. It felt more like a war story being told from a couple families perspectives. The title is Father Of Lions who refers to Abu Laith. The title below is One Man's Remarkable Quest To Save The Mosul Zoo. For me, this refers more to Dr.Amir. I felt the Zookeeper's Wife was a better story about a zoo during wartime. I received an uncorrected advance reading copy to read. I did look at the actual hardcover book at Barnes and Noble and noted it did have some photos. It was nice to see some of the character's pictures. Several of them looked a lot different than I had imagined. It would have been nice to see photos of Lumia and his children also. I did NOT feel this book was a waste of time. I WOULD recommend it to others.


Posted Feb. 12, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

Posts: 346

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

It took a while for me to get into as I usually don’t read this type of book. It has many themes. The destruction and uncertainty of war, the struggles of everyday life,care of others including animal. I thought all of the characters were very well developed. Similar in some ways to the Zookeepers Daughter. I would recommend it to others.


Posted Feb. 12, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Suzanne

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 271

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

This book was interesting; I felt I was exposed to a trove of information and research. The knowledge I gained relating to the region and people was of value to me since I am not particularly current in the circumstances regarding the area's political problems.


Posted Feb. 15, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeh

Join Date: 06/15/11

Posts: 185

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

An enjoyable and most informative read. I love reading about real people's reactions to real events happening in their home settings.


Posted Feb. 17, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
LindaSc

Join Date: 05/27/15

Posts: 4

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

Having been seeking to understand the culture and nuances of the people of Irag and the middle east in general for many years, I was drawn to this book. The text certainly added to my internal library concerning that area as well as helping me visualize the people. Other authors I have read relevant to this topic have done a much better job developing the characters. To be fair, I must admit that having access to the internet was a plus as I read and definitely contributed to the enjoyment of reading. I was able to find pictures of the zoo, and many videos of the attempts to rescue the animals. Without this benefit, I would not have looked back on the book as a complete story. I would only recommend this book to a few of my friends. I feel confident that many would not want to finish reading it.


Posted Feb. 19, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Junebug

Join Date: 01/25/20

Posts: 21

RE: Overall, what do you think of Father of Lions? (no spoilers in this thread please)

I enjoyed the book as it gave me a glimpse as to what life is like for the residents of Iraq through the many regime changes. I did not feel the first half of the book had a lot to do with saving the animals. I found it rather miraculous they survived.


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