A passionately rendered update on our faltering environmental stability.



Veteran wildlife journalist Stolzenburg considers the Earth’s increasingly compromised plant and animal ecosystems.

His enthusiastic debut plumbs ecological experiments relating to the predator-prey dynamic, showing how its disruption directly affects life’s diversity. Most germane to his point are “predator eradication” case studies of places where vital, top-of-the-heap carnivorous animals have been systematically decimated. This caused a cumulative imbalance in unique ecological landscapes and left “second-order predators” in charge. Since the decimation of one species directly affects the propagation of another, these disparities incited a food-chain reaction that threw off track delicate ecological soundness and biodiversity. Stolzenburg adroitly documents scores of other dangerous disproportions. Cruel, obliterative efforts to eradicate the wolf population that once thrived in Yellowstone National Park, for example, sparked a resulting surge in the elk and white-tailed deer population, which was responsible for whittling down young saplings, trampling forest undergrowth, deteriorating river banks and a spike in the prevalence of Lyme-disease-harboring deer ticks. The ocean floors of southwestern Alaska and the North Pacific coast have been stripped of kelp by hungry sea urchins, due to an absence of sea otters whose numbers have been lessened greatly by migrating killer whales. The songbird population has been compromised, the author notes, by the proliferation of such mid-sized predators as raccoons, opossums and black crows. Overly aggressive industrial fishing of Atlantic cod and bluefin tuna has made these species yet another “casualty of the agricultural age.” Stolzenburg’s fact-heavy parlance can be dry and overly didactic, but there’s no quarreling with his cautionary message: Unless measures are taken to preserve what remains of a badly deteriorating ecosystem, there could be dire consequences for planet Earth in the very near future.

A passionately rendered update on our faltering environmental stability.

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59691-229-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2008

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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