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Flight Maps: Adventures With Nature In Modern America [Paperback]

by Jennifer Price
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 6, 2000 0465024866 978-0465024865 New edition
In five sharply drawn chapters, Flight Maps charts the ways in which Americans have historically made connections—and missed connections—with nature. Beginning with an extraordinary chapter on the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and the accompanying belligerent early view of nature’s inexhaustibility, Price then moves on to discuss the Audubon Society’s founding campaign in the 1890s against the extravagant use of stuffed birds to decorate women’s hats. At the heart of the book is an improbable and extremely witty history of the plastic pink flamingo, perhaps the totem of Artifice and Kitsch—nevertheless a potent symbol through which to plumb our troublesome yet powerful visions of nature. From here the story of the affluent Baby-Boomers begins. Through an examination of the phenomenal success of The Nature Company, TV series such as Northern Exposure and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and the sport-utility vehicle craze, the author ruminates on our very American, very urbanized and suburbanized needs, discontents, and desires for meaningful, yet artificially constructed connections to nature. Witty, at times even whimsical, Flight Maps is also a sophisticated and meditative archaeology of Americans’ very real and uneasy desire to make nature meaningful in their lives.

Frequently Bought Together

Flight Maps: Adventures With Nature In Modern America + Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England + Down to Earth: Nature's Role in American History
Price for all three: $72.93

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Editorial Reviews


"Flight Maps will provoke and excite you....Humor, self-scrutiny and a passion for ideas light up [its] pages." -- Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Price's willingness to engage with natural phenomena anywhere she finds them is a refreshing change." -- New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Jennifer Price attended Princeton University and received her Ph.D. in History from Yale. Her essays have appeared in the collections Uncommon Ground and The Nature of Nature. She lives in Los Angeles.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; New edition edition (April 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465024866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465024865
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #480,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Nature Company Conflict December 16, 2004
Price's book (also her dissertation) starts strong, with a formidably researched essay on the extinction of the passenger pigeon that does none of the usual things: it doesn't dwell on man's brutality, it doesn't eulogize the pigeon. Instead, she very thoughtfully considers the ways in which people USE nature, and why, and explores the mystery (it remains a mystery) of exactly why the passenger pigeons disappeared.

Human uses of (and, maybe more importantly, imitations of) nature are the focus of the book. The plastic pink flamingo becomes Price's symbol for our strangely consumerist attitude toward nature. WHY do we have plastic pink flamingos? To Price, they're the most obvious example of "artificial" nature, and they've gone through an amazing range of cultural significance -- from bourgeois lawn ornament to embarrassingly loud "low-income" decoration to hipster accessory.

Price dwells on the symbolism of the flamingo more than is strictly necessary. The themes are a little worn by the time we get to her analysis of the the "nature store" phenomenon, all the Natural Wonders and Nature Companies that sprang up in the nineties. Very interesting, but again, her questions have been asked and answered so thoroughly by this time that I, for one, was TOO aware, by the time I finished, that this was a doctoral dissertation and not a book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explains our reactions to nature as a commodity June 9, 2003
If you think The Nature Company is an oxymoron, Price articulates exactly why that is. If you feel a sense of discomfort in today's society, yet feel vaguely guilty about that discomfort, Price explains that as well. This truly is a fabulous book that will have you thinking (and perhaps even shopping) differently immediately.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly informative... February 6, 2014
...and entertaining. I just had a child so my outdoor time has been supplemented with reading about the outdoors. I had just finished reading THIS SIDE OF A WILDERNESS, by Daniel J. Rice, when this book FLIGHT MAPS arrived. After completing that book I had to wait a couple days before starting this one - that's what I always do with a good book so it has time to settle into memory. I was slightly disappointed with Flight maps at first - it didn't have the same introspective sensation, but by the time I got fifty pages in I was hooked. The only problem I forsee with me reading two books a week is that soon I must inevitably run out of ones as good as these two...
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