Frank and funny, one hunter’s attempt to take down the biggest monster of all—middle age.

WHITETAIL NATION

MY SEASON IN PURSUIT OF THE MONSTER BUCK

A seasoned hunter’s quest to bag the big buck.

In 2008, veteran sports journalist, biographer and senior Tennis magazine editor Bodo (The Trout Whisperers, 2006, etc.) set out on a two-month crusade to acquire what no prior hunting season had yielded: a “wallhanger.” Though having shot many fair-sized bucks in his decades of hunting whitetail deer, when the author hit 50, he resolved to up the ante. As bow season dawned in early October, Bodo’s pursuit took him from his upstate New York acreage to Pennsylvania, back to New York, on to northern Montana as Halloween neared, then down to the Texas hill country in early November, where a three-day escorted ranch hunt could cost up to $5,000. The author depicts the varied physical, ethical and psychological tests to which he subjected himself in hopes of tagging a record-worthy whitetail buck. A town sign he noticed in rural Montana—“WELCOME TO RUDYARD, 596 NICE PEOPLE AND ONE OLD SOREHEAD”—echoes the acerbic tone of much of Bodo’s rather hyperbolic commentary. Introspective but unapologetic, the author sheds light on the nature and allure of blood sports—“hunting isn’t about killing animals. So what is it? A few things, I thought…search for the connection with the old and honorable ways…a deeper understanding of the natural world…self-sufficiency and vestiges of the untamed”—while probing his own motives for engaging in this controversial hobby: “I bought the Weatherby .257 Mag Mark V for the same reason some middle-aged men buy a canary yellow Corvette convertible. Because it’s sexy, and looks great.” Though the uninitiated may eventually lose interest, deer hunters in particular will savor the level of detail Bodo includes in noting the equipment, tactics and techniques used in the field.

Frank and funny, one hunter’s attempt to take down the biggest monster of all—middle age.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-618-96996-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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

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