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Besides bringing together a couple of decades worth of literate, incisive forays into the natural world, this collection of essays from the prize-winning author of THE SONG OF THE DODO is both a wake-up call and a testimonial. Gathered in the main from magazine articles, in particular the authors 15 years of 'Natural Acts', a column in OUTSIDE magazine, Quammen reminds us of the many less quantifiable virtues of the wild that often get crushed in the path of so-called progress. Beginning with the Rocky Mountain trout that, as a young man, would change his life, and meandering through a variety of travels and experiences around the globe, he touches on issues of wildlife conservation, island biogeography and outdoor recreation. Quammen's articles are fascinating, surprising and often humorous, as he learns about the mountain lion by looking over the shoulder of a Montana Bow hunter and delights in the grace of white-water rodeo. Whether he is writing about hard science, art, literature, or the whims that colour our investigations of the world around us, David Quammen emerges as one of the most eloquent spokesmen and campaigners for nature.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780684852089
ISBN-10: 068485208X
Format: Paperback
(214mm x 139mm x 20mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Touchstone
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: 8-Jun-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » From coyotes in downtown LA to birds of paradise in the back-country of New Guinea, US science, nature and travel writer Quammen has the gift of making you feel like you're right there with him, but more than that, you enjoy being there and come out learning more than you thought possible. His essays investigate the meanderings of the human heart and mind. This is the best sort of armchair travelling, scientific exploration and all-round ruminating by a master of all these forms. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » This culling of columns and magazine pieces penned for Outside, Rolling Stone, and Powder over 15 years reveals no damping of his passion for nature, no failure of nerve in testing his skills in the wild, and no stinting in his admiration for the pros - scientists, athletes, and others - he has encountered. In short, connoisseurs of the Quammen (The Song of the Dodo, 1996) style will relish the daredevil you-are-there writing of the sportsman: kayaking on class V rivers with near-death encounters with "holes" (vortices) and boulders, trekking a high moor in Tasmania, documenting telemark races - in which skiers slalom, skate, jump, and perform the absurdly difficult telemark turn (named after a town in Norway) - not to mention trout fishing in Montana. Trout is why he lives there, he says, using a word he loves, "synecdoche," meaning that trout is emblematic of a lot more than trout, so to speak. Even armchair athletes who think whitewater rafting is machismo gone amok may derive some vicarious thrills from Quammen's perfect recall of danger. Elsewhere there are nostalgic pieces about growing up in Cincinnati with a tree as a friend (along with some lore on how trees cope with stress) and his current war with the Cincinnati zoo because of its exploitation of white tigers (inbred for their mutant genes). There are paeans to urban pigeons as "superdoves" and to the late Edward Abbey and one of his books in particular, Desert Solitaire. The personal and sentimental figure in essays on family, friends, and spouse. Sprinkled throughout are bits of scientific lore about the elements - water, snow, ice, glaciers, avalanches; about disease - emerging scary viruses and cancer; and sundry critters, barnacles and swallows, for example. The link seems to be whatever engages the soul of the wanderer ready to backpack and laptop his adventures in technicolor prose. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - David Quammen

David Quammen has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for nonfiction and an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his novels, stories, and essays. He is a two-time winner of the National Magazine Award for science essays and other work in Outside magazine. He is the author of several books, including The Song of the Dodo. Quammen lives in Montana.

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