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Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World's Greatest Wildlife Rescue Hardcover – June 21, 2011
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“Stolzenburg offers a fascinating, if occasionally grisly, peek into the emerging science of preservation through eradication.” ―Salon
“Gripping… Rat Island is less a tragedy of paradise lost than an uplifting tale about the heroic struggle to regain indigenous habitats by exterminating the unwanted predators…[A] powerful book.” ―Financial Times
“Stolzenburg brings a keen eye and thirst for adventure to the front lines of this controversial battle…this study brings important attention to a little known issue, and Stolzenburg probes the moral implications of saving one species by killing another with remarkable fair-mindedness and a temperance rare and needed in the passionate animal rights debate.” ―Publishers Weekly
“A tough, nuanced consideration of ethical issues that arise from man's relationship to nature.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“[Stolzenburg] offers a solid historical background on the topic and effectively conveys the complicated nature of balancing a disrupted island ecosystem.” ―Library Journal
“An extraordianry story” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A gripping account.” ―80 beats (Discover magazine's blog)
About the Author
William Stolzenburg writes about the science and spirit of saving wild creatures. Having written hundreds of magazine articles, he is more recently a 2010 Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellow, the author of the book Where the Wild Things Were, and a screenwriter for the documentary Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators. He lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
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Top Customer Reviews
"Rat Island" is a fantastic read, treating the above with the sort of storytelling acumen it deserves. It is careful, too, to balance the surprise triumph won by recent reclamation campaigns with the obvious downsides and collateral casualties of the mass-poisoning campaigns needed to remove every last trace of rodentia from some of the hardest-hit islands, although I can see some finding its treatment to still be too one-sided. Written in a lively, captivating style, "Rat Island" is the best book of its sort I have encountered, putting its central challenge in stark perspective while detailing how--with a great deal of coordinated effort--trends wrought by careless expansion can be reversed.
The breadth of island regions the book covers is very impressive. The two archipelagos it focuses on primarily are the Aleutian islands of Alaska, and the many islands off of the New Zealand mainland. But in addition it goes all over Polynesia, to the isles off the west coasts of North and South America, among other places. The history that is told is fascinating: the early humans to reach these islands, the creatures they brought with them, and most significantly what effect they have had since. For the rats, cats, foxes, weasels and other non-natives which people have introduced, some intentionally some not, the victims are many. Prime sufferers are birds, flightless kinds and migratory nesting ones. Many species have gone extinct, and many others are hanging on by a thread.
But the great majority of the book isn’t about the problem, but the solution. In large part it involves the killing of the invaders on a mass scale, for the larger good of the safety of the indigenous. The great urgency and ingenuity of those fighting to rid the isles large, medium, and small, of mammalian plagues is inspiring and impressive. It’s the stories of the people here that stand out as much as the conservation effort itself. Step by step these crusaders work to carry out something many think is impossible, or not worthwhile. I didn’t know what an auklet or a kakapo was before reading this book, but I came out of it quite rooting for their revivals and for the humans trying to help them. Much has been done, and hopefully more will be going forward. I highly recommend this fascinating, funny, sad yet hopeful story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is really well written on a timely subject. Stolzenburg writes about the eccentric scientists and characters who are seeking to save species on remote islands when... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jim C
Excellent book about a fascinating aspect of wildlife conservation. Wild geese in our area have made a phenomenal comeback. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Fool For Love
Terrific tale of the brave souls who have tackled the species threatening endemics the world over. Well written and engaging.Published 10 months ago by Reluctant Reviewer
William Stolzenburg has written an enthralling account of the initiatives to save island flora and fauna from invasive mammal species. Read morePublished 20 months ago by eradiCATor