The Gardens of Mars: Madagascar, an Island Story

Published by Head of Zeus on 7th January 2021

A journey – both historical and contemporary – among the fantastical landscapes, beguiling creatures and isolated tribes of the world’s fourth island: Madagascar.

An improbable world beckons. We think we know Madagascar but it’s too big, too eccentric, and too impenetrable to be truly understood. If it was stretched out across Europe, the islands would reach from London to Algiers, and yet its road network is barely bigger than tiny Jamaica’s. There is no evidence of any human life until about 10,000 years ago, and, when eventually people settled, it was migrants from Borneo – 3,700 miles away – who came out on top.

As well as visiting every corner of Madagascar, John Gimlette journeys deep into its past in order to better understand how Madagascar became what it is today. Along the way, he meets politicians, sorcerers, gem prospectors, militiamen, rioters, lepers and the descendants of seventeenth-century pirates.