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Head of Zeus
Father of Lions
Father of Lions: How One Man Defied Isis and Saved Mosul Zoo Louise Callaghan

'This is an unexpectedly funny and moving book. You might not expect to laugh when reading about ISIS-held Mosul, but through the story of a man who loves both lions and life, Louise Callaghan shows how humour and defiance can counter cruelty, and why both humans and animals crave freedom' Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News and author of In Extremis: the life of war correspondent Marie Colvin.

Between 2014 and 2017, the 'Islamic State' ruled the city of Mosul, in northern Iraq, killing 'traitors', destroying books and oppressing women. But miraculously, in a park on the eastern edge of the Tigris, a zoo was kept open.

Father of Lions is the story of Mosul Zoo. It survived under the stern hand of Abu Laith, the zookeeper, a man with an interesting past and a lifelong animal lover. His real name was Imad, but for as long as he could remember everyone had called him by his nickname, Abu Laith – 'Father of Lions'. And the lions and bears survived not only two years of Isis occupation, but starvation and bombardment by liberating forces.

As the animals began to starve, Abu Laith and his family and helpers went hungry to keep them alive. They risked their lives to pick through bins for leftovers in Isis-occupied neighbourhoods. In a final heroic effort, the surviving animals were smuggled out of Iraq in a daring rescue operation.

This is a story of human decency in the midst of barbarism.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Biography
03 Oct 2019 * 400pp * £5.99 * 9781789540789
REVIEWS
'An unexpectedly funny and moving book. You might not expect to laugh when reading about ISIS-held Mosul, but through the story of a man who loves both lions and life, Louise Callaghan shows how humour and defiance can counter cruelty, and why both humans and animals crave freedom'
Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News and author of In Extremis: the life of war correspondent Marie Colvin
'Callaghan knows her way around a war. Her portrayal of a city under siege is many-layered and brilliantly told. The gallows humour and defiance of Mosulis in the most desperate circumstances will appeal to British readers'
Sunday Times
Author
Louise Callaghan
Louise Callaghan
Louise Callaghan is the Middle East correspondent for the Sunday Times. She was named New Journalist of the Year in 2017, and won the Marie Colvin Award at the British Journalism Awards in 2018. The citation read, in part: 'Louise Callaghan's work fights to get to the truth of what is happening on the ground in rebel-held Syria... She bore witness to crimes governments and armed groups would rather were hidden away.' Forbes Magazine named her as one of their '30 under 30' key people in the media.
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