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Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin's Lost Notebooks Hardcover – March 7, 2006


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Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin's Lost Notebooks + The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild + Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (March 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316836648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316836647
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #528,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. When Charles Darwin set out on his voyage of discovery aboard the Beagle in 1831, he was a naïve naturalist. Upon his return to England five years later, as nature writer Haupt (Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds) capably demonstrates, he was a polished, philosophical student of nature. In fluid, lovely prose, Haupt documents this dramatic transformation, focusing on the notebooks Darwin kept during the journey. Through her selections, we see Darwin's minute observations and his understanding of the natural world, and we gain early hints of the ideas that would transform the world when he published On the Origin of Species in 1859. While Haupt presents nothing dramatically new, it is enjoyable to picture the young Darwin spending hours watching Andean condors soar and anthropomorphizing many South American birds (not just the famous finches of the Galápagos). Haupt uses Darwin's personal journey as a metaphor for our contemporary view of the natural world, expressing the hope that people today might become more attuned to their natural surroundings. Darwin, Haupt argues, reminds us "that we too are animals, connected to life, past and present.... That nothing in the natural world is beneath our notice." (Mar. 7)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Those acquainted with Charles Darwin's biography know he boarded the Beagle in 1831 as a callow nature lover and disembarked five years later as an accomplished naturalist. Haupt ( Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds, 2001) explores Darwin's transformation through one of his writings from the voyage, Ornithological Notes. She tightly homes in on Darwin's initial observations in South America, aware that the Galapagos Islands are perceived as the stage on which Darwin came to his insights. Less arguing a case than reimagining Darwin's thoughts, Haupt interacts with the Notes, Darwin's diary, and her own experiences to produce a ruminative sensation of what Darwin was undergoing during this observational period. Though coursing through the birds Darwin collected, Haupt's style inclines toward the abstract as it explores Darwin's conversion experience, so to speak. The effect is a personal and personable comparison of Darwin's interaction with nature with the author's own, producing the strong writer-reader bond that typifies good nature writing. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Helen on May 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing book. I am a biologist and a follower of Darwin, so I ordered this book right away when I saw it reviewed in the paper. Whether your interest is in Darwin or in science and nature more generally, this book is a stand-out. The author has a solid background in philosophy of science, but she's a creative nonfiction writer. Her prose and use of language are definitely a cut above the norm for these subjects. Haupt's focus on birds and her knowledge of ornithology will please any bird-lover. In addition to offering a unique, and endearing portrait of Darwin, this book is really about a way of seeing and understanding the human relationship to the natural world. It is a reminder, as Haupt says, that "we too are animals,connected to life, past and present...that nothing in the natural world is beneath our notice." A beautiful book that will give you fresh eyes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James R. Mccall on September 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a tale of Darwin's becoming a true naturalist. Haupt believes that this happened sometime during the five years he spent with the survey ship Beagle, mostly ashore. Darwin was intent on absorbing and recording everything as the ship ranged up and down both sides of South America. He wanted to learn the geology, the fossils, the animals and the plants wherever he went. Occasionally, Darwin even looked up from his studies and described the human inhabitants.

By "true naturalist" Haupt means something more than a mere busybody, recording observations and collecting samples. She has used Darwin's notebooks of the Voyage (rather than his polished published account) to follow the changes in his attitudes from dutiful outside observer to a state that sometimes seemed to be a mind-meld with his subjects -- or really, by now, his fellow participants in life. Nothing was too small or ordinary to catch and hold Darwin's fascinated gaze. Perhaps, even as a young man still steeped in the traditional Chain of Being and the Christian doctrine of special creation, he tacitly believed that everything was important, everything held a clue to...what? Later, when he came to reflect philosophically on the Species Question, this great mass of detail, lightly and lovingly held, indeed served him well.

Haupt is an excellent writer and, herself a bird expert, uses Darwin's awakening to the birds of South America to locate his transformation to Naturalist. This is a book of natural history, biography, and philosophical observation that makes no pretense to be definitive. Our author is really using Darwin as an exemplar of a certain type that she admires: someone who loves Nature in all her messy particularity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Both casual readers and high school to college level students of natural history and science will relish the beautifully written PILGRIM ON THE GREAT BIRD CONTINENT: THE IMPORTANCE OF EVERYTHING AND OTHER LESSONS FROM DARWIN'S LOST NOTEBOOKS. It's a different portrait which covers not just his works but the image of a naturalist who trusted his observations more than the political influences of his times or the research before him. Darwin was a bumbling amateur naturalist when he boarded the Beagle in 1831 to journey through the Galapagos. The young Darwin and his observations come to life in a survey rich with first-person reflections by the author, on her own wildlife observations.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alice on March 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Lyanda Lynn Haupt's fresh, new look at Darwin inspires one to take another look at our natural surroundings with eyes wide open, standing at full attention. Thoughtful details get more interesting as you read on. A very relevant and refreshing read!
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