THE BEEKEEPER'S LAMENT

HOW ONE MAN AND HALF A BILLION HONEY BEES HELP FEED AMERICA

A crackerjack story of one American beekeeper’s days, with both his songs of joy and sorrow, presented within the context of beekeeping’s natural and social history.

While researching a story about beekeeping, journalist Nordhaus happened upon John Miller, a migratory beekeeper who shuttles his thousands of hives from California to North Dakota. The author struck gold with the colorful Miller, a man who “likes to pontificate, joke, write, say incendiary things, tell stories, drip with sarcasm.” As beekeeping has a fascinating, ages-old story to tell, Miller is an excellent ambassador, born to a long line of apiarists and a willing slave to his hives. Nordhaus is a lively writer who knows how to get to the nub of a topic, be it the architecture of a hive, the sting of a honey bee or the various nefarious infestations that beleaguer bee colonies. Since Colony Collapse Disorder has captured much national interest, she covers that plague, plus a host of other malefactors, such as mites and pesticides. Beekeeping has never been easy, but without the honeybees and their keepers, hundreds of crops would perish. The money in beekeeping, such as it is, is in the pollination fees, not the honey, and Nordhaus ably conveys the economics of the trade. She is just as able to describe the romance and miracle of honey, however. To make a pound, some 50,000 bees travel a collective 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers: “[B]ees carry the future from tree to tree, and honey is the reward for their labors, nectar distilled by desire and duty into something more.” A smooth-as-honey tour d’horizon of the raggedy world of beekeeping.

 

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-187325-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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Whether you call this a personal story or nature writing, it’s poignant, thoughtful and moving—and likely to become a...

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H IS FOR HAWK

An inspired, beautiful and absorbing account of a woman battling grief—with a goshawk.

Following the sudden death of her father, Macdonald (History and Philosophy/Cambridge Univ.; Falcon, 2006, etc.) tried staving off deep depression with a unique form of personal therapy: the purchase and training of an English goshawk, which she named Mabel. Although a trained falconer, the author chose a raptor both unfamiliar and unpredictable, a creature of mad confidence that became a means of working against madness. “The hawk was everything I wanted to be: solitary, self-possessed, free from grief, and numb to the hurts of human life,” she writes. As a devotee of birds of prey since girlhood, Macdonald knew the legends and the literature, particularly the cautionary example of The Once and Future King author T.H. White, whose 1951 book The Goshawk details his own painful battle to master his title subject. Macdonald dramatically parallels her own story with White’s, achieving a remarkable imaginative sympathy with the writer, a lonely, tormented homosexual fighting his own sadomasochistic demons. Even as she was learning from White’s mistakes, she found herself very much in his shoes, watching her life fall apart as the painfully slow bonding process with Mabel took over. Just how much do animals and humans have in common? The more Macdonald got to know her, the more Mabel confounded her notions about what the species was supposed to represent. Is a hawk a symbol of might or independence, or is that just our attempt to remake the animal world in our own image? Writing with breathless urgency that only rarely skirts the melodramatic, Macdonald broadens her scope well beyond herself to focus on the antagonism between people and the environment.

Whether you call this a personal story or nature writing, it’s poignant, thoughtful and moving—and likely to become a classic in either genre.

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0802123411

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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