John James Audubon’s 1838 masterpiece, The Birds of America, “marked the beginning of modern ornithology,” and this volume dramatizes the life and times of the man who devoted his life to creating it.
Audubon’s life was a high-risk adventure story set in the early days of the United States, when Lewis and Clark had completed their explorations, settlers were beginning to head west, and the Trail of Tears—witnessed by Audubon—was an American tragedy. Audubon suffered the deaths of two baby girls and business failures, and he put his marriage at risk to do what he loved more than anything—tramp across the country and paint birds. In an age before photography, he created detailed, lifelike paintings of 489 species of birds, each bird looking real enough “to hop off the page and fly away.” The beautifully designed volume includes many reproductions of Audubon’s paintings, from the owls on the cover to the many full-page, full-color interior illustrations. Though occasionally florid, Plain’s writing—drawing largely on Audubon’s own—is lively and colorful, perfect for describing the swamps, forest, rivers and prairies Audubon so loved. Like Audubon’s paintings, this volume “glow[s] with life.”
A superb introduction to the life and times of a great American artist and naturalist. (appendix, glossary, source notes, bibliography, illustration credits, index) (Biography. 9-14)