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Tibet Wild: A Naturalist's Journeys on the Roof of the World Hardcover – October 3, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1610911726 ISBN-10: 1610911725 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 2 edition (October 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610911725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610911726
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #790,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Field biologist and National Book Award–winner Schaller is a guiding light in global wildlife conservation. In this richly textured chronicle of five decades of world travels, he combines a provocative apologia with unforgettable tales of his encounters with gorillas, tigers, pandas, snow leopards, and jaguars. Of all the landscapes he’s traversed, Schaller is most profoundly tied to the great northern plain of the Tibetan Plateau, the Chang Tang. And of that region’s 150 or so mammal species, he is most captivated by the Tibetan antelope, or chiru. With stinging wit, quiet drama, and evocative humility, Schaller chronicles his 20-year effort to solve the mystery of the chiru’s migration and reverse its near extinction. Schaller writes with piquant candor about how haphazard, ill-advised, contentious, and politicized expeditions can be. He reveals the source of his devotion to nature by telling the story of his harrowing childhood as the son of a German diplomat father and an American mother in Germany during WWII, then in postwar America. With a ringing call for the protection of entire ecosystems, Schaller’s forthright, enlightening book of discovery reseeds our appreciation for the wonders of the planet, perception of the “heavy human hand on the landscape,” and recognition of the need for a global “conservation ethic.” --Donna Seaman

Review

"To protect unspoiled places, Schaller must shed his natural reticence to negotiate with his fellow human beings. In the case of the high steppes, these include families putting out poison for animals wrongly perceived as pests, herders trading horses for motorcycles and, more threatening, gold miners. He's willing to sit down and educate people, sometimes even to compromise, but he has no sympathy for those who get a charge out of reducing the number of his beloved animals one at a time. Late in Tibet Wild, Schaller briefly shares a camp with a foreign hunter who's grousing that he had to wait three whole days to get his final shot at a Marco Polo ram, whose massive curved horns are a coveted trophy. Schaller, the man who spent 17 years trying to find the chiru's calving ground, has little patience for such behavior. 'Hunting is not a sport,' he notes. 'Animals don't just lose, they die.'"
(The New York Times)


"Poignant …Tibet Wild…lays out an open-ended account of the struggle to save wild places and their inhabitants. I can't recall any book that has made me care as much or think harder about how we might do that."
(Science)


"Schaller's huge knowledge means a dedicated reader can revel in a deep and intricate portrayal of Tibet's mythically beautiful visual and emotive environments."
(Times Literary Supplement)


"For the past three decades his studies have been largely confined to mysterious animals most people have never heard of. A summing up in his 80th year appears now, with helpful maps and 32 color photographs, in Tibet Wild."
(Audubon)


"Schaller is a guiding light in global wildlife conservation. In this richly textured chronicle of five decades of world travels, he combines a provocative apologia with unforgettable tales of his encounters with gorillas, tigers, pandas, snow leopards, and jaguars. ... Schaller's forthright, enlightening book of discovery reseeds our appreciation for the wonders of the planet, perception of the 'heavy human hand on the landscape,' and recognition of the need for a global 'conservation ethic.'"
(Booklist)


"His descriptions...are particularly evocative, and give the lie to notions of glamour in field biology....fascinating"
(BBC Wildlife Magazine)


"Tibet Wild is one of Schaller's best works, combining wild adventure with insightful recommendations for people and nature. And it demonstrates why 'old-fashioned' field biology is still an essential part of conservation, and of science."
(The Nature Conservancy's Cool Green Science blog)


"Tibet Wild sings with Schaller's tenacity, patience, and passion"
(BioScience)


"With winter coming on, I enthusiastically recommend adding Tibet Wild to your reading list."
(Sustainability: The Journal of Record)

"Tibet Wild is a finely crafted memoir detailing George B. Schaller's travels and conservation projects in the rugged Tibetan Plateau."
(Shambala Sun)

"Tibet Wild is a fascinating book of a little known part of the world. It should be read by anyone interested in the Tibetan Plateau. Field biologists, range ecologists, pastoral development specialists, tourists and even Tibetan monks will all find something of interest in Schaller’s evocative writing."
(Pastoralism)

"This book may be his swan song: the last of the classic Western naturalists travels to perhaps the last place on earth inhabited but not controlled by humans....Beautifully written, the book offers breathtaking natural history, and the human side of daily life in zones we only know from war and conflict (Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Tibet-China border)....Readers may find hope in Schaller's example of a life dedicated to saving a planet where chiru, tiny rabbits, snow leopards, and human beings of every race, gender, and nation are all animals working to survive."
(Reference & Research Book News)


"He discusses his efforts to use his knowledge of natural history to educate local populations on how to promote effective conservation measures, and also addresses the political and economic realities that complicate doing so. Readers will come away with a firsthand understanding of the rewarding career of a modern conservationist." 
(CHOICE)

“Through his work and the work of other dedicated conservationists in Asia, the chiru has made a comeback. Schaller’s single-minded dedication to wildlife preservation in Chang Tang and around the world is genuinely inspiring.”
(Kirkus)


"George Schaller's stature as a great naturalist and conservation scientist, his unique and intimate familiarity with his subject, and his excellent prose style together make Tibet Wild a classic."
(E.O. Wilson University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University)


"This is a remarkably close-up and revealing story from the world's top field scientist, the chronicler of the lives of pandas, gorillas and lions. In Tibet Wild, Schaller addresses such little known creatures as Marco Polo sheep, snow leopards, chiru antelope, horse-like kiang and the peoples that live with them. He writes penetratingly, but with a grace and sensitivity that touches the heart."
(William Conway Senior Conservationist, Wildlife Conservation Society)


"This is a wonderful and moving account of thirty years of scientific exploration and wildlife conservation on the Tibetan Plateau by one of the world's foremost scholars and ecological activists. It is a great read for scholars and laymen alike that lets the reader experience what it is like to study wildlife in the remotest parts of the Roof of the World."
(Melvyn C. Goldstein Ph.D., J.R. Harkness Professor and Director, Center for Research on Tibet, Case)


"This celebrated naturalist, recalling in his senior years how he has often been so uncomfortable in his travels across wild Tibet, does indeed set a high example for spirited conservation for the next century, the next millennium."
(Biological Conservation)


"Schaller does a great job of showing how to take conservation beyond research by involving local people, governments, and Buddhist monasteries."
(Natural Areas Journal)


"In Tibet Wild, he not only offers a case study in protecting an obscure mammal on tricky political turf but also reflects on his previous projects, many of which resulted in protected, self-sustaining populations of once-imperiled species...[It] has a valedictory quality. Mr. Schaller revisits old journals and quotes from earlier works such as The Last Panda. During freezing cold nights in his field tent, he tries to puzzle out whether his youthful experience of war and subsequent immigration to the United States as an enemy alien helped to form his reticent character, his distaste for crowds, technology and weapons, his wanderlust, and his attraction to stark places like the Chang Tang. Distinguished by these reflections, Tibet Wild would be a fine introduction to Mr. Schaller's writing and remarkably accomplished life for new readers."
(The Wall Street Journal)

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Customer Reviews

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See all 12 customer reviews
It was probably much easier to live as he did without deep introspection.
Charles S. Fisher
While the descriptions of Tibet and it's people were wonderful, I found Schaller's reflections on his own life compelling, poignant and, ultimately, inspiring.
Sam R
It is an excellent travel story as well as an ecological and conservation story.
Truman Goldendog

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Charles S. Fisher on January 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In the late 1960s restless in my academic job, I wanted to volunteer to help George Schaller in his forthcoming study of pandas in China. Tim Asch, the anthropological film maker, warned me against the project. He was right, as can be seen in Peter Mathiessen's portrayal of Schaller the in the book, "Snow Leopard." On my best day I could not have kept up with Schaller on his worst. He notes in this volume that he hurt his knee at one point, the only injury he had suffered in thirty years. Unbelievable but no less, I am sure, true. Now Schaller, a few years my senior, seems to be facing the existential challenge of the meaning of his life. By nature Schaller is not the introspective type. He admits the greatest motive in his studies has been the desire to be out in the wilds, hiking, observing, taking in the beauties of exotic landscapes. In that he is not much different from friends who became marine biologists because they loved to dive, or why I was often absent from the university in the Fall. I could not stand being indoors that much, especially in New England autumn. Discounting the refuges and protections that his studies have lead to, Schaller feels that the most meaningful contribution he has made is in the training of naturalists and rangers. He is a wanderer: " ...in any...place... I feel rootless, unconnected, always traveling in my mind...never quite satisfied..." His compassion was aroused by the conflict between herders and snow leopards, but he "had no way of providing direct help during my fleeting visits...Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Yeti on January 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Tibet, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, western China, Nepal and restive north-east India all have one thing in common when it comes to making big news around the world: violence. That is unfortunate, but this is the area where the great Dr. Schaller has done fantastic work from surveys to helping establish new reserves for the wildlife he loves so much. This book is about ecology, conservation and his spiritual journey in the area. He's seen the area since the middle of the last century, and as a naturalist possesses the gift for observation.

I have tremendous respect for the work and life of Dr. Schaller and I think this book is a must read for all who've followed the work of this wonderful naturalist and gifted writer. It is especially a must-read for people who know nothing about the region as it opens up a new insight into a region that is often painted so negatively.

Then why is this book not worth a five star rating? Compressing five decades into ~300 pages can be difficult. I felt a lot of discontinuity and some experiences too short or skimmed in order to be able to put into a book. I'm sure even if it were 5 volumes of 500 pages each there wouldn't be space for all that he's seen and learned there, but I think it would do more justice to his work! Oddly, I came across several repeated information in the chiru chapters as I didn't expect that in a condensed book.

I didn't enjoy his preference to the use of pack animals. It was particularly sad that donkeys were overloaded and beaten and some died of exhaustion and cold and some abandoned when he went on with a professional trekking guide during one of his surveys. And then the yaks sitting down due to exhaustion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sam R on November 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What I enjoyed most in this great book was the glimpse into the life of a "feral biologist". While the descriptions of Tibet and it's people were wonderful, I found Schaller's reflections on his own life compelling, poignant and, ultimately, inspiring. His passion and dedication are obvious, and the fact that he is working alongside Tibetan and Han Chinese gives me hope for the future of wildlife on the Tibetan plateau. Thank you for writing this!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Truman Goldendog on October 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book about the mammalian fauna of the Tibetan Plateau. It is an excellent travel story as well as an ecological and conservation story. George Schaller is a modern day Roy Chapman Andrews. i enjoyed this book as much as I did his others, including Stones of Silence.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ranger on November 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Partly memoire, partly exploration, only a few dull spots. Some portions should be required reading for those concerned about global warming (and others who should be).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aline Hornaday on November 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Schaller paints a fascinating picture of the Himalayan mountain country of Tibet, with its extraordinary plants, animals, and people. As I am now too elderly to venture alone into such places - and not rich enough to organize large parties of explorers - through Schaller's book I see through one very well educated person's eyes the landscapes and people that constituted his experience and views of Tibet. That it is still difficult for ordinary travellers to enter Tibet, makes it all the more interesting to have Schaller's account of its unique people and institutions as well as the equally unusual fauna & flora that he saw. And as my French father spent some time in a monastery in Tibet in the late 1800s, it helps me to understand an important part of his 'formation' (as the French call a person's early experience), which I otherwise would not be able to envision. Thank you for publishing it!.
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