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Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (July 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316019100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316019101
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Haupt, former raptor rehabilitator and seabird researcher, embarks on an urban ornithological expedition to defend the honor of the crow, the ubiquitous bird whose corvid family precedes Homo sapiens by several million years and whose symbolic and actual role as a scavenger and œliaison between life and death evokes reactions ranging from revulsion to awe. Attracted to the sight of the birds nesting in her backyard, the author follows them as they forage in the moss along neighborhood streets and cavort in a nearby wildlife preserve. Her forays into Seattle's œtenacious wild demonstrate evidence of the crow community's social complexity, their extensive vocabulary and fierce loyalty to their mates and species, Haupt enlivens her observations with tidbits from crow mythology and history, discovering that their bad press dates to the 14th-century outbreak of the bubonic plague when the birds scavenged the dead bodies lying in the streets, œbeginning, horribly, with the eyeballs. Despite some awkward prose, Haupt succeeds in humanizing the object of her naturalist obsession and affection. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"A completely charming and informative book on the pleasures of keeping one's eyes open." (David Sedaris)

"In a lyrical narrative that blends science and conscience, Haupt mourns the encroachments of urbanization, but cherishes the wildness that survives." (New York Times)

"A personal book, one that uses [Haupt] and her fondness for crows to cast its interests toward large concepts such as conservation, the environment, and learning to live more thoughtfully."-Seattle Times

"With her sensitivity, careful eye and gift for language, Haupt tells her tale beautifully...immersing us in a heady hybrid of science, history, how-to and memoir."-Los Angeles Times

"If you live in a city and want to expand your awareness of the natural world, CROW PLANET would be a compelling and inspirational book. If you love or hate or are mystified by crows, it is an essential one."-The Oregonian

"A delightful meditation on our role in the natural world...[Haupt] provides a rich context for exploring the relationship between humans and nature."-Library Journal, Starred review

"Haupt writes gracefully about the interactions between crows and humans in the urban landscape and what those interactions portend for the future of the zoöpolis. A fresh take on conscious living in the everyday world." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Haupt enlivens her observations with tidbits from crow mythology and history [and] succeeds in humanizing the object of her naturalist obsession and affection."--Publishers Weekly



"If you picture Henry David Thoreau as a young mother and scientist in suburban Seattle, you can begin to imagine the literate elegance of Crow Planet. Lyanda Haupt has spun the natural life of neighborhoods, and most poignantly the surpassing intelligence of crows, into the kind of gold only the most gifted writer and naturalist could fashion. Crow Planet is a small treasure, a conversion experience of truth, wit, and re-enchantment that remakes the world and our place within it."--Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest and Natural Capitalism

"Haupt captures crows wonderfully in elegant prose and weaves a thoughtful tale that connects them from St. Benedict's philosophy of lecti divina of 480 CE to our growing awareness of our kinship to, and dependence on, the rest of life."--Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven

"Lyanda Haupt observes crows with a naturalist's eye and discovers that they are smart, social, and disturbingly like us...Your strolls around your neighborhood will be much more interesting after you read this book."--Denis Hayes, national coordinator for the first Earth Day and President and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation

"The fiction (sometimes the hope!) that you can escape from nature by living in the city is as sad as it is widespread. This book will remind you to open your eyes to the mundane--it will make the city a far richer place for you."--Bill McKibben, author of The Bill McKibben Reader

"Crow Planet gently confronts us with the desperate need for mindfulness as we go about our daily lives in the urban wilderness so that evolution may continue and we may stem the loss of our humanity."--Maggie Ross, author of The Fire of Your Life: A Solitude Shared

"Haupt creates an amalgam of ornithology, mythology, philosophy, and advice on how to engage with­--and some warnings about our effects on­--nature; the result is an engaging book-long essay on the interconnectedness of life."--Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., author of Alex and Me

More About the Author

Lyanda Lynn Haupt is a naturalist, eco-philosopher, and speaker whose writing is at the forefront of the movement to connect people with nature in their everyday lives. Her newest book is The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild.

She is the author of Crow Planet, which won the 2010 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award; Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent; and Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds, which won the 2002 Washington State Book Award.

Lyanda lives in Seattle with her family. She is available for keynotes and speaking engagements on the themes she addresses in her writing, as well as book readings and signings, and classes about writing creative non-fiction. Upcoming events are listed on her website at LyandaLynnHaupt.com

Praise for The Urban Bestiary:
"The challenge of our time is the movement from rural villages to big cities where nature seems gone. Haupt's brilliant book restores nature in our lives and uplifts that relationship with stories full of wonder, awe and love." (David Suzuki, author of The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature)

Praise for Crow Planet:
"A completely charming and informative book on the pleasures of keeping one's eyes open." (David Sedaris)

"In a lyrical narrative that blends science and conscience, Haupt mourns the encroachments of urbanization, but cherishes the wildness that survives." (New York Times)

"An inspired meditation on our own place in nature....You will never again look at crows in the same way again." (Washington Post)

Customer Reviews

I ordered the book on the recommendation of a friend and am more than happy with the selection.
B. Hosey
This attunement to nature is vital to keep us sane in a hectic world and keeping us tethered to a pace that's restorative and whole.
chl206
Lyanda Lynn Haupt's "Crow Planet" is the third enchanting book by this insightful interpreter of the natural world.
K. True

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Howard Clark Jr. on August 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Haupt has written a much needed book for today's busy lifestyle. We all hear about nature and how we need to respect it, but often we don't know how, or even where to begin. Haupt tackles this problem by simply focusing on one animal, the crow. It's a bird common to most people and easy to spot, unlike most songbirds that stay in the trees and are hard to study. Crows are out in the open and, being members of the corvid family, are intelligent and lively. Crows and other corvids are problem-solvers; they enjoy manipulating items and seem to think about what they are doing.

Haupt uses the crow as a communication tool to open the reader to the world of nature and observation. The book is filled with interesting stories about crows, and is solid with information on crow behavior, ecology, and general biology. Haupt has done her homework, not just on crow ecology, but also how to relate this ecology to philosophy and everyday thinking about global issues. In the book we see the journey crows take between life and death, and how we should relate to these concepts in our own lives.

Haupt brings up a topic about which I have strong feelings. There seems to be a void in the lives of our children regarding nature. It seems that young folk would rather stay indoors and fi ddle with electronic devices than venture outside and poke around in shrubbery and trees or lift rocks to discover the small worlds within. My daughter is two years old and is allowed, under supervision of course, to freely explore nature. As we pull weeds in the back yard, or work in the garden, she observes insects and toads, and I teach her that these things are alive and interesting.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Karen R. Kuhar on August 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
An inspired choice for any bird lover or reading group, Crow Planet is the author's personal journey to better understand nature in the urban landscape in which we live. Her work is a conversation with the reader pondering questions like: What is nature? How do we effect it and it us? And how can we better understand the ecology of the neighborhood surrounding us?

Crows are the gateway into her growth as an Urban Naturalist and we are invited along to wonder at their intelligence and adaptability.

There is a breezy style to Haupt's prose that is thought provoking, wistful, comforting; like reminiscing with an old friend late into the night. In Crow Planet Haupt is equal parts Environmentalist, Biographer and Naturalist, inspiring us to discover more about our own corner of the world. A Great Read!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. Kasper on November 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked the crow anecdotes, which were interesting and sometimes touching. I could have done without the preaching and philosophy, however. There was about as much about crows in this book as there is about motorcycles in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By B. Hosey on November 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered the book on the recommendation of a friend and am more than happy with the selection. This is the kind of book that friends will be telling their friends about for years to come. Though I finished the book months ago, I keep turning the ideas and questions it raised over and over in my head. What is nature? What does it mean in relation to my very urban surroundings? And just what *are* those crows up to anyway?

The author takes us along on an urban naturalist's journey and through it we gain insights into the web of living things in which we are all enmeshed. Grim environmentalism this is not. If you're looking for the harsh statistics and glum forecasts of doom that pervade our media, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a dry and dusty reference manual to the genus Corvus, keep browsing. If however you hunger for a celebration of nature (and crows!) and something to bring the joy back to caring about and living in our environment, then this is the portable feast you need.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By F. Rodriguez Garcia on January 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Crow Planet" is a lyric book. Most of the text is devoted to the author's feelings, her family, her ideas about nature, the role of man on earth and the like.

The volume is organized in ten chapters, written as small essays, without much relationship among each other. The titles are: Getting Up, Preparing, Reading, Walking, Dwelling, Helping, Seeing, Coexisting , Dying and Flying. There is nothing systematic on them. The reader will not find much scientific or at least observational data. Most of the little information provided about crows is easily found elsewere.

This was not exactly the book I was looking for, but somehow I liked it. It transmits a feeling of peace and "good vibrations" that make it an easy read, in spite of the fact that the author's prose is not simple.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Giordano Bruno on November 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
There are too many crows on the planet right now, just as there are too many humans, and the crows are our accessories in the extinction of other species. That's a startling assertion, isn't it? But it's probably true. Crow populations are calculated to be greater now than ever in history, and the reason is that crows have evolved the capability of living well among and near humans. In other words, crow and human populations tend to be directly proportional. There's a neologism for describing species that thrive alongside humans -- synanthropes -- the best examples being crows and rats. Where humans are few, crows are not the preponderant species of birds that they've become in most towns and cities, rivaling pigeons. And both crows and ravens are becoming more artful in big city life. More street wise. I've watched this evolution during my lifetime, as crows have become more adept at urban survival. In some cities worldwide, crows have begun to displace pigeons, though I never see humans misguidedly feeding flocks of crows as they do pigeons. I think this really is an example of co-evolution that began with the earliest appearance of "disrupted" environments caused by human settlement. Crows thrive in disrupted environments. But wait! What do crows provide to humans? Scavenger services. Especially on modern roads. Vultures are too slow to fly away from road kill; they tend to amalgamate with it. Without crows, we'd be bumper deep in dead raccoons.

Lyanda Lynn Haupt wasn't, and isn't, a rapturous admirer of crows, and her book isn't a ethological or physiological study of them. If you read it thoughtfully, you'll find that Haupt regards crows as analogous to 'canaries in a mine shaft', as living alarm signals of ecological imbalance and potential calamity.
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