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For armchair adventurers, a competent examination of the pros and cons of living off the land.

A geographer and environmental anthropologist travels the globe in search of those who hunt and gather in the midst of civilization.

Although La Cerva pays some attention to those who pick mushrooms and weeds for food and medicine, she focuses mostly on those who kill animals—often illegally, though in line with historical and cultural traditions—chronicling her time in Maine, Scandinavia, Poland, Borneo, and, particularly, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Eating at the world-famous Copenhagen restaurant Noma, the author ruminates on how the act of serving tiny portions of wild foods—including “caramel made from sourdough bread yeast served with Icelandic yogurt and sea buckthorn flower marmalade”—is in some ways a “fetishization of need.” La Cerva prefers the fried grasshoppers she and her friends ate as children in New Mexico, which “tasted like some kind of discordant freedom.” In chapters that bounce precipitously from topic to topic, the author manages to keep a steady eye on her central concern: the contradictions inherent in eating “wild” meat at this point in human history. She shows sympathy for those who hunt and sell “bushmeat,” including monkeys and elephants, but not for the rich at home and abroad who use this meat as a sign of status. A narrative strand about her romantic entanglement with a Swedish conservationist—who coordinates anti-poaching efforts at a rainforest reserve and whose “narrow lips arch into two perfect mountains at the center, surrounded by deep smile lines, like the walls of a canyon valley”—follows a fairly predictable path and contributes little to the story. Throughout, La Cerva demonstrates her ability for diligent observation, and if her prose is sometimes overwrought, it also offers glimpses of human activities that have grown increasingly rare—e.g., butchering a moose or gathering birds' nests for soup.

For armchair adventurers, a competent examination of the pros and cons of living off the land.

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77164-533-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Greystone Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Gibbins combines historical knowledge with a sense of adventure, making this book a highly enjoyable package.

A popular novelist turns his hand to historical writing, focusing on what shipwrecks can tell us.

There’s something inherently romantic about shipwrecks: the mystery, the drama of disaster, the prospect of lost treasure. Gibbins, who’s found acclaim as an author of historical fiction, has long been fascinated with them, and his expertise in both archaeology and diving provides a tone of solid authority to his latest book. The author has personally dived on more than half the wrecks discussed in the book; for the other cases, he draws on historical records and accounts. “Wrecks offer special access to history at all…levels,” he writes. “Unlike many archaeological sites, a wreck represents a single event in which most of the objects were in use at that time and can often be closely dated. What might seem hazy in other evidence can be sharply defined, pointing the way to fresh insights.” Gibbins covers a wide variety of cases, including wrecks dating from classical times; a ship torpedoed during World War II; a Viking longship; a ship of Arab origin that foundered in Indonesian waters in the ninth century; the Mary Rose, the flagship of the navy of Henry VIII; and an Arctic exploring vessel, the Terror (for more on that ship, read Paul Watson’s Ice Ghost). Underwater excavation often produces valuable artifacts, but Gibbins is equally interested in the material that reveals the society of the time. He does an excellent job of placing each wreck within a broader context, as well as examining the human elements of the story. The result is a book that will appeal to readers with an interest in maritime history and who would enjoy a different, and enlightening, perspective.

Gibbins combines historical knowledge with a sense of adventure, making this book a highly enjoyable package.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781250325372

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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Basketball fans will enjoy Pippen’s bird’s-eye view of some of the sport’s greatest contests.

The Chicago Bulls stalwart tells all—and then some.

Hall of Famer Pippen opens with a long complaint: Yes, he’s a legend, but he got short shrift in the ESPN documentary about Michael Jordan and the Bulls, The Last Dance. Given that Jordan emerges as someone not quite friend enough to qualify as a frenemy, even though teammates for many years, the maltreatment is understandable. This book, Pippen allows, is his retort to a man who “was determined to prove to the current generation of fans that he was larger-than-life during his day—and still larger than LeBron James, the player many consider his equal, if not superior.” Coming from a hardscrabble little town in Arkansas and playing for a small college, Pippen enjoyed an unlikely rise to NBA stardom. He played alongside and against some of the greats, of whom he writes appreciatively (even Jordan). Readers will gain insight into the lives of characters such as Dennis Rodman, who “possessed an unbelievable basketball IQ,” and into the behind-the-scenes work that led to the Bulls dynasty, which ended only because, Pippen charges, the team’s management was so inept. Looking back on his early years, Pippen advocates paying college athletes. “Don’t give me any of that holier-than-thou student-athlete nonsense,” he writes. “These young men—and women—are athletes first, not students, and make up the labor that generates fortunes for their schools. They are, for lack of a better term, slaves.” The author also writes evenhandedly of the world outside basketball: “No matter how many championships I have won, and millions I have earned, I never forget the color of my skin and that some people in this world hate me just because of that.” Overall, the memoir is closely observed and uncommonly modest, given Pippen’s many successes, and it moves as swiftly as a playoff game.

Basketball fans will enjoy Pippen’s bird’s-eye view of some of the sport’s greatest contests.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982165-19-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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