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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Father of Lions

Father of Lions

One Man's Remarkable Quest to Save Mosul's Zoo

Louise Callaghan

Forge Books

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Father of Lions is the powerful true story of the evacuation of the Mosul Zoo, featuring Abu Laith the zookeeper, Simba the lion cub, Lula the bear, and countless others, faithfully depicted by acclaimed, award-winning journalist Louise Callaghan in her trade publishing debut.

Combining a true-to-life narrative of humanity in the wake of war with the heartstring-tugging account of rescued animals, Father of Lions will appeal to audiences of bestsellers like The Zookeeper’s Wife and The Bookseller of Kabul as well as fans of true animal stories such as A Streetcat Named Bob, Marley and Me, and Finding Atticus.

“An unexpectedly funny and moving book. ... 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.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

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Abu Laith


Abu Laith was not the kind of man to let another man insult his lion. Especially not a man who looked like this.

He was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, well pressed, and had the air of a civil servant. He carried...

Praise for Father of Lions

“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.

"Callaghan knows her way around a war. Her portrayal of a city under siege is many-layered and brilliantly told." -- Sunday Times

“When ISIS took over a sprawling park near his home in Mosul, Iraq, Abu Laith was confident he could protect his pregnant wife and their 13 children. . . He wasn’t so sure about the zoo animals. . . But Abu Laith was determined to save them.” --New York Post

"Powerful and equally inspirational. ... Outstanding." --Psychology Today

“An engaging yet heartbreaking narrative that reads like fiction.” --Kirkus Reviews

“Callaghan’s intense story of saving a zoo serves as a human look at life in a war-torn city.” --Publishers Weekly

“Callaghan's first book is a true page-turner.” --School Library Journal, starred review

“Father of Lions is a captivating and timely read.” --The Buzz Magazines

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Reviews from Goodreads

Louise Callaghan

Louise Callaghan is the Middle East Correspondent for the Sunday Times (UK), one of the youngest ever hired by the paper. She has had long-form pieces published in The Sunday Times Magazine, Vogue, and the Times Literary Supplement. She won the Marie Colvin Award for British Journalism, New Journalist of the Year at the 2016 British Press Awards, Young Journalist of the Year at the 2017 British Journalism Awards, and made Forbes' 30 under 30 in media 2018 list. Father of Lions is her first book.

image of Louise Callaghano
John Beck

Read Articles by the Author at The Times

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