The Boilerplate Rhino

Nature in the Eye of the Beholder

Author: David Quammen

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1439125430

Category: Nature

Page: 288

View: 431

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In 1981 David Quammen began what might be every freelance writer's dream: a monthly column for Outside magazine in which he was given free rein to write about anything that interested him in the natural world. His column was called "Natural Acts," and for the next fifteen years he delighted Outside's readers with his fascinating ruminations on the world around us. The Boilerplate Rhino brings together twenty-six of Quammen's most thoughtful and engaging essays from that column, none previously printed in any of his earlier books. In lucid, penetrating, and often quirkily idiosyncratic prose, David Quammen takes his readers with him as he explores the world. His travels lead him to rattlesnake handlers in Texas; a lizard specialist in Baja; the dinosaur museum in Jordan, Montana; and halfway across Indonesia in search of the perfect Durian fruit. He ponders the history of nutmeg in the southern Moluccas, meditates on bioluminescent beetles while soaking in the waters of the Amazon, and delivers "The Dope on Eggs" from a chicken ranch near his hometown in Montana. Quammen's travels are always jumping-off points to explore the rich and sometimes horrifying tension between humankind and the natural world, in all its complexity and ambivalence. The result is another irrepressible assortment of ideas to explore, conundrums to contemplate, and wondrous creatures to behold.

Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind

Author: David Quammen

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 9780393076301

Category: Nature

Page: 528

View: 5235

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"Rich detail and vivid anecdotes of adventure....A treasure trove of exotic fact and hard thinking."—The New York Times Book Review, front page For millennia, lions, tigers, and their man-eating kin have kept our dark, scary forests dark and scary, and their predatory majesty has been the stuff of folklore. But by the year 2150 big predators may only exist on the other side of glass barriers and chain-link fences. Their gradual disappearance is changing the very nature of our existence. We no longer occupy an intermediate position on the food chain; instead we survey it invulnerably from above—so far above that we are in danger of forgetting that we even belong to an ecosystem. Casting his expert eye over the rapidly diminishing areas of wilderness where predators still reign, the award-winning author of The Song of the Dodo examines the fate of lions in India's Gir forest, of saltwater crocodiles in northern Australia, of brown bears in the mountains of Romania, and of Siberian tigers in the Russian Far East. In the poignant and troublesome ferocity of these embattled creatures, we recognize something primeval deep within us, something in danger of vanishing forever.

Wild Thoughts from Wild Places

Author: David Quammen

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1439125279

Category: Nature

Page: 304

View: 2230

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In Wild Thoughts from Wild Places, award-winning journalist David Quammen reminds us why he has become one of our most beloved science and nature writers. This collection of twenty-three of Quammen's most intriguing, most exciting, most memorable pieces takes us to meet kayakers on the Futaleufu River of southern Chile, where Quammen describes how it feels to travel in fast company and flail for survival in the river's maw. We are introduced to the commerce in pearls (and black-market parrots) in the Aru Islands of eastern Indonesia. Quammen even finds wildness in smog-choked Los Angeles -- embodied in an elusive population of urban coyotes, too stubborn and too clever to surrender to the sprawl of civilization. With humor and intelligence, David Quammen's Wild Thoughts from Wild Places also reminds us that humans are just one of the many species on earth with motivations, goals, quirks, and eccentricities. Expect to be entertained and moved on this journey through the wilds of science and nature.

Ornithologies of Desire

Ecocritical Essays, Avian Poetics, and Don McKay

Author: Travis V. Mason

Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press

ISBN: 155458647X

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 306

View: 5726

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Ornithologies of Desire develops ecocritical reading strategies that engage scientific texts, field guides, and observation. Focusing on poetry about birds and birdwatching, this book argues that attending to specific details about the physical world when reading environmentally conscious poetry invites a critical humility in the face of environmental crises and evolutionary history. The poetry and poetics of Don McKay provide Ornithologies of Desire with its primary subject matter, which is predicated on attention to ornithological knowledge and avian metaphors. This focus on birds enables a consideration of more broadly ecological relations and concerns, since an awareness of birds in their habitats insists on awareness of plants, insects, mammals, rocks, and all else that constitutes place. The book’s chapters are organized according to: apparatus (that is, science as ecocritical tool), flight, and song. Reading McKay’s work alongside ecology and ornithology, through flight and birdsong, both challenges assumptions regarding humans’ place in the earth system and celebrates the sheer virtuosity of lyric poetry rich with associative as well as scientific details. The resulting chapters, interchapter, and concordance of birds that appear in McKay’s poetry encourage amateurs and specialists, birdwatchers and poetry readers, to reconsider birds in English literature on the page and in the field.

The Song Of The Dodo

Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions

Author: David Quammen

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 1448137403

Category: Nature

Page: 704

View: 5388

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Why have island ecosystems always suffered such high rates of extinction? In our age, with all the world's landscapes, from Tasmania to the Amazon to Yellowstone, now being carved into island-like fragments by human activity, the implications of this question are more urgent than ever. Over the past eight years, David Quammen has followed the threads of island biogeography on a globe-encircling journey of discovery.

Clara's Grand Tour

Travels with a Rhinoceros in Eighteenth-century Europe

Author: Glynis Ridley

Publisher: Grove Press

ISBN: 9780802142337

Category: History

Page: 222

View: 5334

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The author chronicles the adventures of Clara, a three-ton rhinoceros who became the toast of Europe, seen by royalty and ordinary folk alike on a spectacular series of tours across the continent during the mid-eighteenth century. Reprint.

Animals and Society

An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies

Author: Margo DeMello

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 0231526768

Category: Nature

Page: 488

View: 622

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Considering that much of human society is structured through its interaction with non-human animals, and since human society relies heavily on the exploitation of animals to serve human needs, human–animal studies has become a rapidly expanding field of research, featuring a number of distinct positions, perspectives, and theories that require nuanced explanation and contextualization. The first book to provide a full overview of human–animal studies, this volume focuses on the conceptual construction of animals in American culture and the way in which it reinforces and perpetuates hierarchical human relationships rooted in racism, sexism, and class privilege. Margo DeMello considers interactions between humans and animals within the family, the law, the religious and political system, and other major social institutions, and she unpacks the different identities humans fashion for themselves and for others through animals. Essays also cover speciesism and evolutionary continuities; the role and preservation of animals in the wild; the debate over zoos and the use of animals in sports; domestication; agricultural practices such as factory farming; vivisection; animal cruelty; animal activism; the representation of animals in literature and film; and animal ethics. Sidebars highlight contemporary controversies and issues, with recommendations for additional reading, educational films, and related websites. DeMello concludes with an analysis of major philosophical positions on human social policy and the future of human–animal relations.

Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature

Author: David Quammen

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 0393076326

Category: Nature

Page: 352

View: 5821

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"David Quammen is simply the best natural essayist working today."--Tim Cahill, author of Lost in My Own Backyard "Lively writing about science and nature depends less on the offering of good answers, I think, than on the offering of good questions," said David Quammen in the original introduction to Natural Acts. For more than two decades, he has stuck to that credo. In this updated version of curiosity leads him from New Mexico to Romania, from the Congo to the Amazon, asking questions about mosquitoes (what are their redeeming merits?), dinosaurs (how did they change the life of a dyslexic Vietnam vet?), and cloning (can it save endangered species?). This revised and expanded edition best-loved "Natural Acts" columns, which first appeared in Outside magazine in the early 1980s, and includes recent pieces such as "Planet of Weeds," an influential new Natural Acts is an eye-opening journey that will please both Quammen fans and newcomers to his work. Song lyrics have been redacted from this ebook owing to permissions issues.

The Wild Trees

A Story of Passion and Daring

Author: Richard Preston

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 9781588366030

Category: Science

Page: 320

View: 2874

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Hidden away in foggy, uncharted rain forest valleys in Northern California are the largest and tallest organisms the world has ever sustained–the coast redwood trees, Sequoia sempervirens. Ninety-six percent of the ancient redwood forests have been destroyed by logging, but the untouched fragments that remain are among the great wonders of nature. The biggest redwoods have trunks up to thirty feet wide and can rise more than thirty-five stories above the ground, forming cathedral-like structures in the air. Until recently, redwoods were thought to be virtually impossible to ascend, and the canopy at the tops of these majestic trees was undiscovered. In The Wild Trees, Richard Preston unfolds the spellbinding story of Steve Sillett, Marie Antoine, and the tiny group of daring botanists and amateur naturalists that found a lost world above California, a world that is dangerous, hauntingly beautiful, and unexplored. The canopy voyagers are young–just college students when they start their quest–and they share a passion for these trees, persevering in spite of sometimes crushing personal obstacles and failings. They take big risks, they ignore common wisdom (such as the notion that there’s nothing left to discover in North America), and they even make love in hammocks stretched between branches three hundred feet in the air. The deep redwood canopy is a vertical Eden filled with mosses, lichens, spotted salamanders, hanging gardens of ferns, and thickets of huckleberry bushes, all growing out of massive trunk systems that have fused and formed flying buttresses, sometimes carved into blackened chambers, hollowed out by fire, called “fire caves.” Thick layers of soil sitting on limbs harbor animal and plant life that is unknown to science. Humans move through the deep canopy suspended on ropes, far out of sight of the ground, knowing that the price of a small mistake can be a plunge to one’s death. Preston’s account of this amazing world, by turns terrifying, moving, and fascinating, is an adventure story told in novelistic detail by a master of nonfiction narrative. The author shares his protagonists’ passion for tall trees, and he mastered the techniques of tall-tree climbing to tell the story in The Wild Trees–the story of the fate of the world’s most splendid forests and of the imperiled biosphere itself. From the Hardcover edition.

The Return of the Unicorns

The Natural History and Conservation of the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros

Author: Eric Dinerstein

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 0231501307

Category: Nature

Page: 384

View: 4439

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Beginning in 1984, Eric Dinerstein led a team directly responsible for the recovery of the greater one-horned rhinoceros in the Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal, where the population had once declined to as few as 100 rhinos. The Return of the Unicorns is an account of what it takes to save endangered large mammals. In its pages, Dinerstein outlines the multifaceted recovery program—structured around targeted fieldwork and scientific research, effective protective measures, habitat planning and management, public-awareness campaigns, economic incentives to promote local guardianship, and bold, uncompromising leadership—that brought these extraordinary animals back from the brink of extinction. In an age when scientists must also become politicians, educators, fund-raisers, and activists to safeguard the subjects that they study, Dinerstein's inspiring story offers a successful model for large-mammal conservation that can be applied throughout Asia and across the globe.

The Flight of the Iguana

A Sidelong View of Science and Nature

Author: David Quammen

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1476728739

Category: Nature

Page: 320

View: 5821

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From the award-winning author of The Song of the Dodo comes a collection of essays in which various weird and wonderful aspects of nature are examined. This book contains tales of vegetarian piranha fish, voiceless dogs, and a scientific search for the genes that threaten to destroy the cheetah.

Telling Our Way to the Sea

A Voyage of Discovery in the Sea of Cortez

Author: Aaron Hirsh

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

ISBN: 1429947934

Category: Nature

Page: 416

View: 7815

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A luminous and revelatory journey into the science of life and the depths of the human experience By turns epic and intimate, Telling Our Way to the Sea is both a staggering revelation of unraveling ecosystems and a profound meditation on our changing relationships with nature—and with one another. When the biologists Aaron Hirsh and Veronica Volny, along with their friend Graham Burnett, a historian of science, lead twelve college students to a remote fishing village on the Sea of Cortez, they come upon a bay of dazzling beauty and richness. But as the group pursues various threads of investigation—ecological and evolutionary studies of the sea, the desert, and their various species of animals and plants; the stories of local villagers; the journals of conquistadors and explorers—they recognize that the bay, spectacular and pristine though it seems, is but a ghost of what it once was. Life in the Sea of Cortez, they realize, has been reshaped by complex human ideas and decisions—the laws and economics of fishing, property, and water; the dreams of developers and the fantasies of tourists seeking the wild; even efforts to retrieve species from the brink of extinction—all of which have caused dramatic upheavals in the ecosystem. It is a painful realization, but the students discover a way forward. After weathering a hurricane and encountering a rare whale in its wake, they come to see that the bay's best chance of recovery may in fact reside in our own human stories, which can weave a compelling memory of the place. Glimpsing the intricate and ever-shifting web of human connections with the Sea of Cortez, the students comprehend anew their own place in the natural world—suspended between past and future, teetering between abundance and loss. The redemption in their difficult realization is that as they find their places in a profoundly altered environment, they also recognize their roles in the path ahead, and ultimately come to see one another, and themselves, in a new light. In Telling Our Way to the Sea, Hirsh's voice resounds with compassionate humanity, capturing the complex beauty of both the marine world he explores and the people he explores it with. Vibrantly alive with sensitivity and nuance, Telling Our Way to the Sea transcends its genre to become literature.

Amazing Rare Things

The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery

Author: David Attenborough,Susan Owens,Martin Clayton,Rea Alexandratos

Publisher: Kales Press

ISBN: 9780979845628

Category: Art

Page: 223

View: 7396

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Describes the methods by which selected European artists, from Leonardo Da Vinci to Mark Catesby, portrayed the natural world during the Age of Discovery.

The Book of Yaak

Author: Rick Bass

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

ISBN: 9780547349350

Category: Nature

Page: 208

View: 7628

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The Yaak Valley of northwestern Montana is one of the last great wild places in the United States, a land of black bears and grizzlies, wolves and coyotes, bald and golden eagles, wolverine, lynx, marten, fisher, elk, and even a handful of humans. It is a land of magic, but its magic may not be enough to save it from the forces threatening it now. The Yaak does have one trick up its sleeve, though: a writer to give it voice. In Winter Rick Bass portrayed the wonder of living in the valley. In The Book of Yaak he captures the soul of the valley itself, and he shows how, if places like the Yaak are lost, we too are lost. Rick Bass has never been a writer to hold back, but The Book of Yaak is his most passionate book yet, a dramatic narrative of a man fighting to defend the place he loves.

Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms

Author: Stephen Jay Gould

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN: 0674061632

Category: Science

Page: 422

View: 1193

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This unique volume of 21 recent essays published in "Natural History" magazine consciously formulates a humanistic natural history, telling how humans have learned to study and understand nature, rather than a history of nature itself. 41 illustrations.

The Future of Life

Author: Edward O. Wilson

Publisher: Vintage

ISBN: 0679768114

Category: Nature

Page: 229

View: 5565

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Calls for decisive action to save Earth's endangered biological heritage, profiling threatened animals and plants and offering a program based on economic, ethical, and religious ideals for preserving our biosphere.

The Immense Journey

An Imaginative Naturalist Explores the Mysteries of Man and Nature

Author: Loren Eiseley

Publisher: Vintage

ISBN: 0307801934

Category: Nature

Page: 224

View: 2582

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Anthropologist and naturalist Loren Eiseley blends scientific knowledge and imaginative vision in this story of man.

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution (Great Discoveries)

Author: David Quammen

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 0393076342

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 304

View: 3103

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"Quammen brilliantly and powerfully re-creates the 19th century naturalist's intellectual and spiritual journey."--Los Angeles Times Book Review Twenty-one years passed between Charles Darwin's epiphany that "natural selection" formed the basis of evolution and the scientist's publication of On the Origin of Species. Why did Darwin delay, and what happened during the course of those two decades? The human drama and scientific basis of these years constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that elucidates the character of a cautious naturalist who initiated an intellectual revolution.

The View from Lazy Point

A Natural Year in an Unnatural World

Author: Carl Safina

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

ISBN: 9781429950350

Category: Nature

Page: 416

View: 6974

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An exhilarating journey of natural renewal through a year with MacArthur fellow Carl Safina Beginning in his kayak in his home waters of eastern Long Island, Carl Safina's The View from Lazy Point takes us through the four seasons to the four points of the compass, from the high Arctic south to Antarctica, across the warm belly of the tropics from the Caribbean to the west Pacific, then home again. We meet Eskimos whose way of life is melting away, explore a secret global seed vault hidden above the Arctic Circle, investigate dilemmas facing foraging bears and breeding penguins, and sail to formerly devastated reefs that are resurrecting as fish graze the corals algae-free. "Each time science tightens a coil in the slack of our understanding," Safina writes, "it elaborates its fundamental discovery: connection." He shows how problems of the environment drive very real matters of human justice, well-being, and our prospects for peace. In Safina's hands, nature's continuous renewal points toward our future. His lively stories grant new insights into how our world is changing, and what our response ought to be.

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

Author: David Quammen

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 0393066800

Category: Medical

Page: 587

View: 1781

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Examines the emergence and causes of new diseases all over the world, describing a process called “spillover” where illness originates in wild animals before being passed to humans and discusses the potential for the next huge pandemic. 70,000 first printing.