Books by Theodore Nirgiotis

ANIMALS
Released: Dec. 26, 1996

A slim, glossy discussion of endangered species that lacks the scientific precision and adequate documentation to be effective. After opening with the 16th- and 17th-century obliteration of the dodo population, the authors cover the methods that saved the black-footed ferret from extinction; this century's conversion of zoos to nature parks; captive breeding programs; computerized matching and interbreeding in zoos around the world to maximize gene diversity; the freezing of sperm, eggs, and embryos for later implantation; and educational efforts around the world. The text falls prey to oversimplifications and teleology: ``They [scientists] suggest that deadly new epidemics such as AIDS may be nature's reaction to human overpopulation and the resulting upset of the balance of nature.'' (Was the Black Plague nature's reaction to overpopulation in the Middle Ages?) The statements are not attributed or documented; phrases such as ``they suggest'' are too vague. Elsewhere, the authors state, ``Large mammals are called keystone species,'' when a more accurate definition (by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, in Biodiversity, p. 1472) is ``a species that plays a crucial role in creating habitat for other living things.'' A discussion of inbreeding links science and social taboos: ``Most human societies prohibit brother-to-sister and cousin-to-cousin marriages. Long ago, people noticed that the youngsters of such pairings were more likely than others to suffer from various physical disorders.'' With attractive full-color photographs, the book is visually appealing, but many worthy facts founder in faulty contexts. (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12) Read full book review >