Highly readable, entertaining and educational.

READ REVIEW

HALFWAY TO HEAVEN

MY WHITE-KNUCKLED--AND KNUCKLEHEADED--QUEST FOR THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH

A middle-aged former journalist sets out to summit all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot-plus peaks.

Obmascik (The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession, 2004), who led the Denver Post’s Pulitzer Prize–winning coverage of the Columbine massacre before turning to nature writing, proves an engaging, convivial host as he leads us up the slopes of the Rockies accompanied by a parade of colorful climbing partners. The author often conquered several adjoining peaks on the same expedition, and each climb introduces us to a different companion, each with a unique back story. The partners were the result of a demand from Obmascik’s wife Merrill that her neophyte mountaineer would never climb alone. At one point, she filled the role of climbing partner herself, only to discover a few feet from the summit of Snowmass Mountain that she was afraid of heights. The author’s desperate quest for hiking companions took him through friends, neighbors, old college buddies and his reluctant teenage son. Through the Internet, he joined forces on other mountains with a Boeing engineer who climbed in shorts, another who chain-smoked Marlboros, a 70-year-old with two artificial hips and the legendary Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind man ever to summit Mount Everest. Obmascik encountered mountain goats, several hungry marmots (who ate his climbing poles), two gnarly old gold miners and even a few lovelorn females. Throughout, the author maintains a breezy narrative style, a keen eye for nature’s beauty and a self-deprecating tone that makes his marathon journey fly by. His story and those of many of the free spirits he meets along the way vividly demonstrate the thrill of taking the road less traveled.

Highly readable, entertaining and educational.

Pub Date: May 12, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-6699-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The book is not entirely negative; final chapters indicate roads of reversal, before it is too late!

SILENT SPRING

It should come as no surprise that the gifted author of The Sea Around Us and its successors can take another branch of science—that phase of biology indicated by the term ecology—and bring it so sharply into focus that any intelligent layman can understand what she is talking about.

Understand, yes, and shudder, for she has drawn a living portrait of what is happening to this balance nature has decreed in the science of life—and what man is doing (and has done) to destroy it and create a science of death. Death to our birds, to fish, to wild creatures of the woods—and, to a degree as yet undetermined, to man himself. World War II hastened the program by releasing lethal chemicals for destruction of insects that threatened man’s health and comfort, vegetation that needed quick disposal. The war against insects had been under way before, but the methods were relatively harmless to other than the insects under attack; the products non-chemical, sometimes even introduction of other insects, enemies of the ones under attack. But with chemicals—increasingly stronger, more potent, more varied, more dangerous—new chain reactions have set in. And ironically, the insects are winning the war, setting up immunities, and re-emerging, their natural enemies destroyed. The peril does not stop here. Waters, even to the underground water tables, are contaminated; soils are poisoned. The birds consume the poisons in their insect and earthworm diet; the cattle, in their fodder; the fish, in the waters and the food those waters provide. And humans? They drink the milk, eat the vegetables, the fish, the poultry. There is enough evidence to point to the far-reaching effects; but this is only the beginning,—in cancer, in liver disorders, in radiation perils…This is the horrifying story. It needed to be told—and by a scientist with a rare gift of communication and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Already the articles taken from the book for publication in The New Yorker are being widely discussed. Book-of-the-Month distribution in October will spread the message yet more widely.

The book is not entirely negative; final chapters indicate roads of reversal, before it is too late!  

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 1962

ISBN: 061825305X

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1962

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Exemplary writing about the world and a welcome gift to readers.

HORIZON

Distinguished natural history writer and explorer Lopez (Outside, 2014, etc.) builds a winning memoir around books, voyages, and biological and anthropological observations.

“Traveling, despite the technological innovations that have brought cultural homogenization to much of the world, helps the curious and attentive itinerant understand how deep the notion goes that one place is never actually like another.” So writes the author, who has made a long career of visiting remote venues such as Antarctica, Greenland, and the lesser known of the Galápagos Islands. From these travels he has extracted truths about the world, such as the fact that places differ as widely as the people who live in them. Even when traveling with scientists from his own culture, Lopez finds differences of perception. On an Arctic island called Skraeling, for instance, he observes that if he and the biologists he is walking with were to encounter a grizzly feeding on a caribou, he would focus on the bear, the scientists on the whole gestalt of bear, caribou, environment; if a native of the place were along, the story would deepen beyond the immediate event, for those who possess Indigenous ways of knowledge, “unlike me…felt no immediate need to resolve it into meaning.” The author’s chapter on talismans—objects taken from his travels, such as “a fist-size piece of raven-black dolerite”—is among the best things he has written. But there are plentiful gems throughout the looping narrative, its episodes constructed from adventures over eight decades: trying to work out a bit of science as a teenager while huddled under the Ponte Vecchio after just having seen Botticelli’s Venus; admiring a swimmer as a septuagenarian while remembering the John Steinbeck whom he’d met as a schoolboy; gazing into the surf over many years’ worth of trips to Cape Foulweather, an Oregon headland named by Capt. James Cook, of whom he writes, achingly, “we no longer seem to be sailing in a time of fixed stars, of accurate chronometers, and of reliable routes.”

Exemplary writing about the world and a welcome gift to readers.

Pub Date: March 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-394-58582-6

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more