Peter O'Toole owes his life to Shagram, the "No. 1 camel" which – during the filming of Lawrence of Arabia - stood over the star after a fall as stampeding horses thundered past. Robert Irwin's erudite, droll and utterly delightful book about the life and lore of the dromedary (one hump) and Bactrian (two) abounds with details that reflect glory on a much-misundersstood animal.
As bright as an eight-year-old human (to Robyn Davidson), perceptive and affectionate – but moody – the camel has suffered from stereotypes throughout its loyal if "grudging and grumbling" partnership with us. Across art, zoology and literature, from Egypt to India, Irwin gives the perfectly-adapted desert beast a boost with wide learning, superb illustrations - and deadpan wit.