Books by Osha Gray Davidson

NON-FICTION
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

"Davidson brings environmental passion, as well as a gimlet-eyed environmental appreciation, to the turtles' predicament, giving the plague a moral dimension as well as delivering on the scientific one."
A lucid and disturbing report on grim happenings in the sea-turtle world—and by extension the oceans themselves—from Davidson (The Enchanted Braid, 1998, etc.). Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: May 1, 1998

This natural history of coral reefs and our relationship to them delivers a measured but damning indictment of human environmental folly. Ten percent of the planet's reefs are degraded beyond recovery; another 30 percent will likely decline over the next two decades. Davidson, a freelance writer with broad interests (The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South, 1996; Under Fire: The NRA and the Battle for Gun Control, 1993), notes coral reefs' importance as essential strands in "the enchanted braid" of our global ecosystem. Reefs—"the rainforests of the ocean"—take up a fraction of the sea but host a quarter of all marine species. They also boast the ocean's most stunning combination of beauty and abundance. Taking more poetic license than the scientists he interviews, Davidson describes the sensory feast he observed firsthand diving on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and snorkeling during his days as a beach bum in the Florida Keys. Davidson's knack for the picturesque analogy serves him well. Limning the intricacy of their complex ecosystems, he characterizes coral reefs as "the Russian novels of the sea world, full of passion and avarice, convoluted and interweaving story lines, and colorful characters by the dozens." From the biological ABCs of coral polyps and reef formation, he moves on to address the global factors threatening reefs as never before. A depressing panoply of man-made agents contributes to the ongoing decline: blast fishing (in which crude bombs are used to stun fish), cyanide poisoning (which captures exotic reef fish live for sale to affluent diners in China), along with more prosaic but ultimately more damaging factors like untreated sewage, agricultural chemicals, and increased sedimentation from logging and development. Davidson's accessible, heartfelt portrait of man's deleterious effect on the sea is a sobering examination of the devilishly complex corner humanity is painting itself into. (8 pages color photos, not seen) Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: April 1, 1996

"This eloquent blend of history and advocacy journalism ends with a follow-up on the major figures and with that rarest quality in a book on race in America—a reason for hope."
An intimate yet broad presentation of the slow gains made in racial reconciliation in today's South. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: April 13, 1993

Beginning with the story of ``Eddie'' Purdy, who killed five children in a California schoolyard and then turned his AK-47 assault rifle on himself, Davidson (Broken Heartland, 1990) writes what at first seems an emotional antigun tract. In fact, it is something much more interesting: a detailed examination of political influence as wielded by perhaps the most powerful of special interests—the National Rifle Association. Davidson begins by sketching the NRA's beginnings as a group promoting military rifle-practice, and its gradual metamorphosis into an organization for hunters and civilian target-shooters. It was only in the 1970's, under the leadership of Harlon Carter—a controversial Texan who nearly tripled NRA membership during his tenure—that Second Amendment absolutism became the organization's raison d'àtre. Most of the text is a fascinating analysis of the origins of the gun lobby's legendary clout—in effect, a graduate course in real-world politics. Davidson follows the progress through Congress of various gun-control bills; details the NRA's response (from procedural fights to concerted efforts to oust unsympathetic legislators); examines the changing nature of the antigun movement; and records the split between the NRA and many law-enforcement professionals. And while the author believes in the necessity of some form of gun control, he points out distortions and loaded statistics used by gun-law advocates, as well as the NRA's readiness to demonize its opponents. Unlikely to change the minds of hard-liners on either side of the gun debate; but, still, a fascinating study of the practical application of political power. Read full book review >