Enjoyable reading for sport fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts who can look past any issues regarding cruelty to...

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A NATURALIST GOES FISHING

CASTING IN FRAGILE WATERS FROM THE GULF OF MEXICO TO NEW ZEALAND'S SOUTH ISLAND

Personal and professional lives come together for McClintock (Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land, 2012), an Antarctic marine biologist and passionate sport fisherman.

The author is especially worried about the growing threat to fish posed by the increased acidification of the world's oceans, caused by the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A fishing trip to the Chandeleur Islands off the coast of Louisiana evokes concern about the health of the habitat for the redfish and speckled sea trout that have drawn him and his fishing buddies to the area on yearly visits for more than a decade. This “portion of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, the fifty-mile chain of uninhabited islands, is a naturalist’s dream,” writes the author. He has personally witnessed the effects of dredging, coupled with pollution and the impact of global warming, all of which are depleting the number of fish and reducing their size. Nonetheless, McClintock writes with relish about his adventures as a sport fisherman. He opens with a story of chasing redfish and speckled sea trout. After a 40-minute battle with a “big red” hooked on his tackle but putting up a strong fight, the fish got away. His brother was luckier in his battle with a trout, which was caught, held up proudly for a photograph, and then released back to the sea. The author also writes of a four-day stay in a fishing lodge north of Manitoba in Canada, where there is “some of the best lake trout and pike fishing in the world.” His accounts of these and other fishing adventures—in the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, and more—provide a lively backdrop for concerns about the effects of climate change

Enjoyable reading for sport fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts who can look past any issues regarding cruelty to animals.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-137-27990-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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An authoritative, engaging study of plant life, accessible to younger readers as well as adults.

THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY OF PLANTS

A neurobiologist reveals the interconnectedness of the natural world through stories of plant migration.

In this slim but well-packed book, Mancuso (Plant Science/Univ. of Florence; The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behavior, 2018, etc.) presents an illuminating and surprisingly lively study of plant life. He smoothly balances expansive historical exploration with recent scientific research through stories of how various plant species are capable of migrating to locations throughout the world by means of air, water, and even via animals. They often continue to thrive in spite of dire obstacles and environments. One example is the response of plants following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Three decades later, the abandoned “Exclusion Zone” is now entirely covered by an enormous assortment of thriving plants. Mancuso also tracks the journeys of several species that might be regarded as invasive. “Why…do we insist on labeling as ‘invasive’ all those plants that, with great success, have managed to occupy new territories?” asks the author. “On a closer look, the invasive plants of today are the native flora of the future, just as the invasive species of the past are a fundamental part of our ecosystem today.” Throughout, Mancuso persuasively articulates why an understanding and appreciation of how nature is interconnected is vital to the future of our planet. “In nature everything is connected,” he writes. “This simple law that humans don’t seem to understand has a corollary: the extinction of a species, besides being a calamity in and of itself, has unforeseeable consequences for the system to which the species belongs.” The book is not without flaws. The loosely imagined watercolor renderings are vague and fail to effectively complement Mancuso’s richly descriptive prose or satisfy readers’ curiosity. Even without actual photos and maps, it would have been beneficial to readers to include more finely detailed plant and map renderings.

An authoritative, engaging study of plant life, accessible to younger readers as well as adults.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63542-991-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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