Giant pandas have been causing a stir ever since their formal scientific discovery just over 150 years ago: for almost a century, they defied classification; they outwitted hunters and escaped trappers; they left the public elbowing and zoo turnstiles spinning; they were sent on diplomatic journeys; they were branded onto products and turned into company logos; and thanks to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF – fifty years old in 2011) this species became the face of global conservation. Yet in spite of humankind’s evident obsession with the giant panda, it is only in the last few decades that scientific research has begun to show us what this mysterious, frequently misunderstood creature is really like.

A fascinating story of an extraordinary animal.

Desmond Morris

Henry Nicholls expertly charts the panda’s decades of fame and binds together many intriguing facets of 150 years of Sino-Western interaction.

Daily Mail

Thoroughly readable … sheds valuable light on a mysterious and often misunderstood creature.

BBC Wildlife

Insightful and meticulously researched … provides fascinating insights into the panda’s rise to its current popularity … [Nicholls] has the skill, rare among scientists, of explaining science in a clear and appealing manner. His writing is easygoing yet informative, and will be accessible to any reader with an interest in nature.

Fintan Enright, Irish Examiner

An engaging popular science narrative … absorbing and illuminating.

Morning Star

The story is indeed fascinating, and Nicholls tells it with tremendous verve … this is narrative nonfiction at its best.

Ian Critchley, Sunday Times


Kate Kellaway, Observer

A fascinating story

History Today

Curious but engaging

Times Literary Supplement