Audubon Magazine

Audubon Magazine

Alisa Opar
Published: 12/13/2012

Remote lands populated by cannibalistic natives and poisonous snakes set the stage for biologist Tim Flannery’s latest book, Among the Islands. The renowned author delves into his 1980s and ’90s expeditions to catalog unique, elusive species, like a red-gray tree-climbing mouse and a monkey-faced bat. He bounces from the Solomon Islands to Fiji to Bismarck’s Isles, falling into a sinkhole while trying to set a mist net and trudging through thigh-deep guano to get a closer look at an insect-eating bat. Part travel diary and part field notebook, Among the Islands is a rollicking good adventure-science read—something like what you’d get if Charles Darwin starred in an Indiana Jones flick.—Susan Cosier



Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned

Backyards Into Battlegrounds

By Jim Sterba

Crown Publishers, 368 pages, $26 (Buy it)

Jim Sterba explores how, ironically, many Americans are living closer to nature than ever before—and how ill-equipped we are to deal with it. After centuries of uncontrolled hunting and clear-cutting devastated ecosystems, the environmental movement inspired people to try to restore some kind of natural balance. While conservationists have unquestionably made incredible strides, Sterba argues that, close to home, we’ve overcompensated, paving the way for wild creatures to live in our lushly landscaped environs—with plenty of food and protection—but not in harmony.—Catherine Griffin


When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice

By Terry Tempest Williams

Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 208 pages, $23 (Buy it)

In When Women Were Birds, Williams once again weaves together personal history and the natural world through her eloquent prose. Over 54 taut chapters—her mother was 54 when she died, as was Williams when she wrote this book—Williams takes the reader on a remarkable journey. She traces her life, from her Mormon upbringing through her days as a science teacher in a religious school and on to her inspiring involvement in national policy and international human rights.—Susan Cosier



The Black Rhinos of Namibia: Searching for Survivors in the African Desert

By Rick Bass

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 288 pages, $25 (Buy it)

The story of the black rhinoceros is also a story of the desert, and Bass’s writing submerges readers in “the oldest unchanged landscape on earth,” a blistering horizon of basalt and heat. Through his journey Bass pulls apart the layered relationship between rhinoceros and desert, land and history, past and future. “Big animals, with the broad strokes of their movements and lives, can show us the world,” he writes, “and with those broad strokes lead us further into imagination.”—Justine E. Hausheer


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