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Wild America: The Record of a 30,000 Mile Journey Around the Continent by a Distinguished Naturalist and His British Colleague Paperback – April 30, 1997


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Wild America: The Record of a 30,000 Mile Journey Around the Continent by a Distinguished Naturalist and His British Colleague + Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder + The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In 1953 renowned American ornithologist and painter Roger Tory Peterson and British seabird specialist James Fisher undertook a whirlwind, 100-day tour of America's great wildlife refuges and corridors. This wonderful book recounts that sometimes madcap voyage, which took them to familiar places such as Long Island and the Smoky Mountains, but also to less traveled venues such as Big Bend and the then-remote Everglades. Along the way the authors document such things as the courting behavior of dragonflies and the arrival of the first cattle egrets in North America. This is a classic of nature writing and a great pleasure to read.

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"Fascinating" Kirkus Reviews

"The reader ends with the feeling of having been one of the party." The New York Times
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (April 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395864976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395864975
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roger Tory Peterson, one of the world's greatest naturalists, received every major award for ornithology, natural science, and conservation as well as numerous honorary degrees, medals, and citations, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Peterson Identification System has been called the greatest invention since binoculars.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Steve F on December 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Let me just quote my favorite line from the book. It is when James Fisher, an Englishman, first sees the Grand Canyon:
"I went down there a few yards. The world ended; began again eight miles away. Between the ends of the world was a chasm."
Now I have never seen the Grand Canyon, but reading about it with such wonder through Mr. Fisher's eyes was extraordinary. It brought tears to my eyes. It goes to show how truly amazing and beautiful America is. I highly recommend this book, not just for the birds these two men see, but also for all the wonderful sights they come encounter. It made me want to retrace their route.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Carpalis on February 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
The world of e-reviewing is a tolerant world, and exaggerations have an easy home there. But measured by the role it has played in people's lives, there is little hyperbole in identifying Peterson and Fisher's "Wild America," precisely fifty years old this year, as among the most important books produced in the twentieth century. In the 1950s and 1960s, the book found its way into school libraries all over America, where it has been read with awe and envy by the last three generations of would-be naturalists--read so intensively that many of us, decades later, can quote great passages by heart.
The book is a collaborative account of the biggest 'big year' up to that point ever undertaken in North America; the trip was planned by none other than Roger Tory Peterson, then (and still today, perhaps) the continent's best-known birder, and was intended as an introduction to America's natural history for James Fisher, an equally prominent British naturalist who had never visited this side of the Atlantic. "Wild America" was the result: a priceless document of the continent's natural riches seen through the eyes, the words and the illustrations of two gifted and interesting observers.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Peterson and Fisher's trip, and the book is certain to be celebrated over and over in the press. Those who have not read it should by all means visit their library to borrow a well-worn copy; and those who have should take it in hand again, and be reminded of how important this text was in the birth of North America's birding culture as we know it today.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Luis P. Fernandez on July 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
When I found this book at Third Place Books in Seattle in the summer of 2002, I had never heard of it, but, from the authors' reputation as naturalists and ornithologists, it looked like a good read. I discovered the book at the end of my camping journey to three national parks in Washington state and a one-week cruise to Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park and the main points of interest in beautiful southeastern Alaska. My jaunt to the natural areas of the Pacific Northwest and the Alexander Archipelago would be lame compared to the 20,000+ miles that Roger Peterson and James Fisher logged in on their comprehensive foray to "Wild America".

The authors embarked on their journey following the coast of the US with intermittent forays to the interior and a brief excursion to Mexico a year before the publication of the molecular structure of DNA as double helix. Rapid developments in our understanding of the molecular basis of life ushered in the molecular era of biology, which has ultimately led to the restructuring and overhauling of the way we teach biology and the way we explain, understand, and appreciate the complexities of life. Just when most students in biology these days are honed to the molecular and cellular basis of life--a reductionist view, so to speak--and less to the holistic and more traditional view of biology, what a refreshing change to learn from and be engrossed by the keen observations of two naturalists on the road and be taken back to an era when biology as natural history was respected as an academic field and an engaging pastime as well!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on April 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I were to pick the top five books that have influenced my life...for the better, this one would probably be at the top of that list of five. I first read it as a relatively young man and have given it several rereads over the years and just finished my latest.
I like books pertaining to natural history, history and travel books. It this single volume I get all three of my reading loves dished out in a grand manner. This book has been around for over 50 years now and in many ways it is a fresh today as it was the day it was published. Now this is not to say that it can be used as a "current" travel guide - alas, far from it. The geography of North America has changes somewhat over the years. New roads, strip malls, dried up rivers and creeks, urban sprawl, pollution, new roads, logging, and on and on and on...all have taken their toll. The America Peterson and Fisher observed and recorded is in many ways not with us any longer. I suppose I am fortunate in a way (or unfortunate - depending upon how you look at it) to have had the opportunity to travel though and visit many of the places this duo visited both then and more recently. I am acutely aware of the changes.

And this is one of the strong features of this work. It records a country in a state which we will, if we want to be realistic about it, never see again. It records our history and thereby will give the thoughtful reader much to ponder both as to our current situation and that of the future.

The premise of this work is well known. Two of the world's greatest naturalists drive from the extreme North East section of N. America and roughly follow the coast line all the way around via automobile with a side trip to Mexico and of course Alaska. They observed and record.
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