Wholly captivating natural history.

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A MOST REMARKABLE CREATURE

THE HIDDEN LIFE AND EPIC JOURNEY OF THE WORLD'S SMARTEST BIRDS OF PREY

An entire book devoted to the odd caracara? Yes, and the narrative rarely lags.

Meiburg, a journalist and leader of the band Shearwater, begins with Darwin, whose 1831-1836 voyage around the world has provided evergreen material for natural historians since. During his trek, Darwin visited the Falkland Islands, which, along with the Galápagos, are the only New World lands that Europeans actually discovered because they were never inhabited. There he encountered a handsome, raven-sized bird of prey, the striated caracara, distantly related to the falcon, whose bizarre behavior persuaded him to devote “more ink to their antics in The Voyage of the Beagle than he gave any other bird.” Meiburg’s enthusiasm matches Darwin’s, and readers will share it. Unlike the fresh-meat diet of most birds of prey, caracara eat nearly everything, including insects, carrion, garbage, mucus, feces, and, according to Falkland lore, “cans of engine grease.” Possessing an insatiable curiosity and intelligence, they have no fear of man, a recipe for extinction, which may be their fate. After a vivid description of the bird, its life on the isolated islands, and a torrent of amusing anecdotes, Meiburg steps back to deliver the big picture. Since the 1990s, scientists agree that birds descended directly from dinosaurs and have flourished since the larger creatures went suddenly extinct 65 million years ago. From 700 species identified during the age of dinosaurs, more than 10,000 bird species live today, far outnumbering mammals. Not only a fine writer, the author is clearly an adventurer, and he devotes other entertaining chapters to treks into the high Andes and South American jungles in search of other caracara species. He also detours regularly into the life of William Henry Hudson (1841-1922), the British naturalist and ornithologist who was acclaimed during his lifetime but is now known mainly for Green Mansions, a romantic novel set in the Venezuelan jungle.

Wholly captivating natural history.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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