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Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature, Revised and Expanded Edition with a New Introduction

David Quammen.
Publisher Norton  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 8.5 x 5.75 x 1.1 inches
ISBN 9780393058055
Pages/Publication Date 350/2008
Daedalus Item Code 01965
This item is not available.
"Lively writing about science and nature depends less on the offering of good answers, I think, than on the offering of good questions," said David Quammen in the original introduction to his 1985 book Natural Acts, and for more than two decades he has stuck to that credo. In this revised and expanded version, the author of The Song of the Dodo and The Reluctant Mr. Darwin follows his lively curiosity from New Mexico to Romania, from the Congo to the Amazon, asking questions about mosquitoes (what are their redeeming merits?), dinosaurs (how did they change the life of a dyslexic Vietnam vet?), and cloning (can it save endangered species?). This edition returns to print Quammen's best-loved "Natural Acts" columns, which first appeared in Outside magazine in the early 1980s, and includes such recent pieces as "Planet of Weeds," an influential Harper's cover story.

"Quammen's writing style is so delightful that his content could almost be secondary. Happily, the author and his subjects are equally engaging: from a light-hearted trope on crows, whom he surmises are 'too intelligent for their station in life'; to the dead-serious issue of human cloning, which he labels 'perniciously stupid'; to a harrowing 453-day adventure in a remote Congolese forest Quammen shared with explorer J. Michael Fay. A revised and expanded version of the out-of-print 1985 original, this volume reprints a number of Quammen's columns from Outside magazine along with more lengthy articles culled from sources like Audubon, National Geographic and Smithsonian, including a solid selection of his post-1985 work. In his introduction he describes the new version as 'a chimerical creature, like a griffin, bird-shaped in front with a mammalian caboose,' but his topics-and his tone-aren't always so whimsical; in 'Planet of Weeds,' a 1998 piece published in Harper's, he predicts man-made ecological catastrophe: 'Homo sapiens itself is the consummate weed.' A book to ponder and enjoy."Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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