An enticing homecoming party for the Great Lakes, with a welcome-back for some readers and an invitation for others.

THE LIVING GREAT LAKES

SEARCHING FOR THE HEART OF THE INLAND SEAS

Nature writer Dennis (From a Wooden Canoe, 1999, etc.) enlivens his fine guide to the Great Lakes with a storyteller’s sense of pacing, savvily blending the factual with the picaresque.

“Though I've lived near the Great Lakes most of my life,” he admits, “there came a day a few years ago when I realized how little I knew about them. To get better acquainted, I drove around each of their shores.” More than once, in fact, with frequent dallyings. Dennis spends a good amount of time on both developed and wild waterfronts, telling of the broad and curious array of people who lived there, tracking from the Paleolithic past through to the industries of sand and salt and honeycomb stone, describing the evolution of coastal geomorphology whose vivid geology is matched by an equally vivid history of bad weather. He spends even more time out on top of the waterscape aboard the schooner Malabar. These are burly waters with their own weather systems and tragic tales resulting therefrom, as well as a thousand landscapes to pass as the Malabar, sails from the author’s hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, to New York City. Dennis writes about them all in polished and alluring prose—not fancy, but not homespun either, just comfortably well worn. To explore sections of the lakes he doesn't visit on the Malabar he employs other means, from canoeing the northern shore of Superior to swimming off the shore of his house on Leelanau Peninsula. He threads environmental history throughout, from the utter degradation of the mid-20th century, when the US all but wrote the lakes off as dead, to what can cautiously be considered their resurrection, although the water’s clarity is mostly due to the zebra mussel, which trails botulism, toxic algae, and species loss in its wake.

An enticing homecoming party for the Great Lakes, with a welcome-back for some readers and an invitation for others.

Pub Date: April 25, 2003

ISBN: 0-312-25193-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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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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Unsentimental nature writing that sheds as much light on humans as on eels.

THE BOOK OF EELS

OUR ENDURING FASCINATION WITH THE MOST MYSTERIOUS CREATURE IN THE NATURAL WORLD

An account of the mysterious life of eels that also serves as a meditation on consciousness, faith, time, light and darkness, and life and death.

In addition to an intriguing natural history, Swedish journalist Svensson includes a highly personal account of his relationship with his father. The author alternates eel-focused chapters with those about his father, a man obsessed with fishing for this elusive creature. “I can’t recall us ever talking about anything other than eels and how to best catch them, down there by the stream,” he writes. “I can’t remember us speaking at all….Because we were in…a place whose nature was best enjoyed in silence.” Throughout, Svensson, whose beat is not biology but art and culture, fills his account with people: Aristotle, who thought eels emerged live from mud, “like a slithering, enigmatic miracle”; Freud, who as a teenage biologist spent months in Trieste, Italy, peering through a microscope searching vainly for eel testes; Johannes Schmidt, who for two decades tracked thousands of eels, looking for their breeding grounds. After recounting the details of the eel life cycle, the author turns to the eel in literature—e.g., in the Bible, Rachel Carson’s Under the Sea Wind, and Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum—and history. He notes that the Puritans would likely not have survived without eels, and he explores Sweden’s “eel coast” (what it once was and how it has changed), how eel fishing became embroiled in the Northern Irish conflict, and the importance of eel fishing to the Basque separatist movement. The apparent return to life of a dead eel leads Svensson to a consideration of faith and the inherent message of miracles. He warns that if we are to save this fascinating creature from extinction, we must continue to study it. His book is a highly readable place to begin learning.

Unsentimental nature writing that sheds as much light on humans as on eels.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296881-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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