The Boilerplate Rhino: Nature in the Eye of the Beholder and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$8.99
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Used book in very good condition. This book contains no highlighting or writing. Thank you for looking at this book.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Boilerplate Rhino: Nature in the Eye of the Beholder Hardcover – April 10, 2000


See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$6.79 $0.01

The Triumph of Seeds by Thor Hanson
The Triumph of Seeds
A book of knowledge, adventure and wonder, spun by an award-winning writer with both the charm of a fireside story-teller and the hard-won expertise of a field biologist Learn more | See more by Thor Hanson
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (April 10, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684837285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684837284
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #790,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

David Quammen, a highly regarded popular-science writer (Song of the Dodo) and novelist, brings a range of qualities to his work as an interpreter of nature: a journalist's talent for finding a good story and telling it well, a scholar's conviction that facts matter, and an amateur naturalist's passion for learning about the way things work. For 15 years, Quammen put these qualities to good use in his Outside magazine column "Natural Acts." The Boilerplate Rhino gathers 26 of those columns between book covers, and to good purpose: every one of them is a keeper. Quammen writes of such matters as the entirely reasonable human fear of spiders (which he shares) and snakes (which he does not); of the work of such groundbreaking theoreticians and thinkers as E.O. Wilson and Henry David Thoreau; of the history of American lawns; the life of the durian fruit; the commodification of nature by way of television documentaries; the strange scholarly fortunes of Tyrannosaurus rex; and the landing patterns of cats in free fall. (Really.) A single theme underpins these scattered pieces: namely, how humans "in all their variousness, regard and react to the natural world, in all its variousness." Quammen explores this theme with good cheer and hard-won knowledge, and his essays teach his readers much about the world. --Gregory McNamee

From Publishers Weekly

Rippling with verve, this fourth collection of essays culled from the latter half of Quammen's tenure as a columnist at Outside magazine (1981-1996) displays yet again how dexterously he fulfilled his monthly mandate "to demonstrate that evolutionary biology, theoretical ecology, and the incisive contemplation of nature can provide piquant entertainment for people in dental waiting rooms." Among his obsessions this time around are spiders and snakes, sperm and (somewhat more equivocally) eggs; reflections of nature in the eyes of artists and writers (the title alludes to Albrecht D?rer's woodcut of a rhino armored like a feudal German knight, one of the world's first mass-produced images); and durian, a thorny yellow-green fruit the size of a rugby ball, which "smells like a jockstrap" but yields a pulp that's "creamy and slightly fibrous, like a raw oyster that's been force-fed vanilla ice cream" and that envelops another recurring motif: the nutmeg. As ever, it's a delight to watch Quammen (Song of the Dodo) take off in pointy-headed pursuit of the answer to a question that he has just twisted his brain to produce, such as why owls don't have penises or what is the terminal velocity of a plummeting cat. Nor is he above sticking his neck out and turning his meticulous gaze on his own foibles (why, Quammen wonders, is he a cringing arachnophobe, when he is also an avid snake fancier?). While one occasionally catches a glimpse of the "pinched worried ruthless countenance" of a man on a relentless monthly deadline, that sight only humanizes his formidable eye, ear and intellect. Agent, Ren?e Golden. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

He did this with fine proficiency in SONG OF THE DODO.
Stephen A. Haines
This book is a fine collection of fictions, which will please most fantasy lovers.
reviewer
Every story was fascinating and done with such a friendly sense of humor.
Kelli

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By ton on April 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Most scientists can't write. That's because they are scientists, not writers. If they try to write then they probably write in the evening after walking the dog and just before they fall asleep. They then think: "Let's explain this very difficult theory in a very difficult way to very few people. That's a pity because science can be interesting. At least that's what I think after reading this and other books by mr. Quammen. David Quammen is a writer and he writes before walking the dog. I discovered his books after being forced by my girlfried to read his "The song of the dodo", a book about island biogeography. Don't feel ashamed, I also didn't know what island biogeography was. "Dodo" went on for over 600 pages about Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, Indonesia, evolution and extinction. And I loved it. Even the difficult bits because David Quammen can write and explain complicated theories. His prose makes you want to go out and buy a microscope or visit the Galapagos islands.
In "The boilerplate rhino" Quammen writes about a species of bat that are eaten on Guam, slime molds, why we worry about dolphins in canned tuna and not about the tuna in canned tuna, racing lizards, rattlesnakes and the importance of nutmeg. It's another fascinating combination of rarities in good prose and explaining difficult things without making you feel dumb. Buy this book and you probably will want to eat the fruit called Durian which tastes wonderful but smells like a jockstrap.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kelli on May 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book without knowing anything about David Quammen. The cover art was attractive and once I read the dust jacket, I thought it would be perfect reading for the plane. I was SO pleased! Every story was fascinating and done with such a friendly sense of humor. David Quammen's enthusiasm and wonder about the world around him is infectious and entertaining. I will be reading much more by this talented author!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on August 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Can you name your State Bird? If not, you might start searching for your answer here. If you can, you might find another suggestion in this collection of superb essays.
What lofty arrogance gives any of us the presumption in offering any form of judgment of a David Quammen book? It is a rare writer who comes so alive on the page for us. More than mere facts are here; he brings both personal meaning and human values to their simple disclosure. He seductively captures a readers' attention with an element, then expands our view of life as he opens horizons for us. It's a dull reader who comes away without reflecting on their values. Quammen deftly draws the reader into his world; walking through spider- infested forests, climbing inaccessible slopes, or scrambling about a library. Here is a writer of unrivaled skill whose human values permeate every essay.
This latest work is offered as the 'swan song' of his career with Outside magazine. It will be lamentable if he fails to generate more examples of his delightful and instructive prose. He did this with fine proficiency in SONG OF THE DODO. Numerous topics in this collection lend themselves to just such an enlargement. How many beetle species roam our planet with us? What happened to the owl's spatula? Can a cat truly fly? What powers are hidden in the nutmeg in your Christmas eggnog? Quammen addresses such questions, but answers are not always forthcoming. More work is to be done, and few, if any can accomplish it as does Quammen.
Quammen has been improperly labelled a 'nature writer', a misnomer applied to one who so thoroughly researches his material. He queries field scientists, laboratory techs, the garage operators and himself.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
Having read "Song of the Dodo", I was slightly disappointed. This is a collections of columns originally written for "Outside" magazine. Quammen admits to writing many of them at the last minute before the Outside deadline, and sometimes this haste shows through. The short format doesn't allow him to do much more than scratch the surface of any one topic. But within the limitations of the format, the pieces are very readable, interesting and sometimes funny.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Molly Wolf on May 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Quammen is a delight to read. His writing is lively, clear, workmanlike (in the very best sense of the word), with that spring in the literary step that a writer has or doesn't have, but has to be born with -- and I speak both as a fellow writer and as a professional editor. There is no in-between: Quammen is a real writer. His work is always infused with delight and usually makes me laugh out loud at least once per essay. His books teach without being obnoxiously didactic. These essays are full of wonder, information, and delight, and they are a pleasure to read -- and it doesn't get better than that!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Carlberg on May 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
Boilerplate Rhino is another collection of magazine columns, like "Natural Acts" (1985), "The Flight of the Iguana" (1988) and "Wild Thoughts from Wild Places (1998). Quammen is an excellent nature essayist, with just the right recipe of fact, whimsy, self-deprecation and seriousness. His ruminations will have you alternately howling with laughter, moaning in anguish, barking angrily and purring with satisfaction -- and along the way you'll add a snootful of useless facts to your cocktail chatter.
His "Song of the Dodo" (1996) was a tough slog due to the weight and mass of four long books rolled in one, but the 20-minute essays here are just the right length.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

David Quammen is the author of a dozen fiction and nonfiction books, including Blood Line and The Song of the Dodo. Spillover, his most recent book, was shortlisted for several major awards. A three-time National Magazine Award winner, he is a contributing writer for National Geographic and has written also for Harper's, Outside, Esquire, The Atlantic, Powder, and Rolling Stone. He travels widely on assignment, usually to jungles, mountains, remote islands, and swamps.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?