AMAZING WILDLIFE OF SOUTH AFRICA AND THE WESTERN UNITED STATES by Jeff Williams

AMAZING WILDLIFE OF SOUTH AFRICA AND THE WESTERN UNITED STATES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Animals in South Africa and the Western United States get the spotlight in this debut wildlife photography book.

Equipped with a high-quality camera and a bounty of enthusiasm, Williams shares the splendor of the wildlife he’s encountered in national parks, zoos, and preserves. From lions and warthogs in South Africa to raccoons and foxes in Montana, a selection of almost 40 types of fauna is featured in action and repose, alone and with company. Though some animals have a disproportionate number of photographs compared to others, Williams has a wonderful knack for capturing the arresting intensity of their direct gazes into the lens. Each photo is accompanied by a lengthy caption detailing useful facts about the animal’s size, behavior, and mating patterns along with relevant human encounters. Many captions also include vivid anecdotes about Williams’ own travels and experiences with the animals, replete with an almost overwhelming awe: “Tigers are arguably the most beautiful, magnificent animals in the world. They completely grab one’s attention and captivate us as nothing else can. They are incredibly beautiful and powerful, and live their lives on their own terms.” Some captions, on the other hand, involve an imagined personification, as with the “goofy, high energy flamingo” that the author saw acting as an “aerobic dance instructor.” Augmenting the scrapbooklike feel of the collection, Williams himself appears in two photos, stroking and holding baby animals. His most common reaction to many of the creatures: “Precious overload.” Though endangerment statuses are mentioned for some species, Williams’ focus is not so much on conservation as aesthetic and experiential appreciation, as when he describes his enjoyment of an ostrich steak in Africa. Readers are mostly encouraged to ogle the exotic safari parade as tourists. As the audience’s guide, Williams provides only brief glimpses into the looming threats these creatures face, instead fervently expressing his gratitude for his playful and intimate encounters with them. After photographing a cheetah, he “realized this was one of life’s top moments. This was one of the reasons I had to go to South Africa, to capture precious souls like this in their home.” But readers’ engagement is primarily limited to an almost voyeuristic consumption of remote, picture postcard–perfect beauty, inert in its encyclopedic banality.

A passionate collection of wildlife photos.

Pub Date: March 8th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5043-9302-7
Page count: 136pp
Publisher: BalboaPress
Program: Kirkus Indie
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