Amphibians and Reptiles of Texas (W. L. Moody Jr. Natural History Series) 2nd Edition, Kindle Edition
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The book is composed of four major sections - A) keys (40 pages covering salamanders, frogs and toads, amphibian larvae, turtles, lizards, and snakes), B) species accounts (115 pages), C) distribution maps (94 pages with 162 maps), and C) a bibliography (143 pages). There are also shorter sections covering an 86-term glossary, indices of common (about 425) and scientific (about 550) names, and a few (25) black and white photos.
While the book is not suitable, in my estimation, as a field guide; it is nonetheless an excellent, annotated, and comprehensive bibliographic reference for serious students of the full range of Texas amphibians and reptiles. Under each genus and species account, in addition to the comments and distribution maps, a sometimes lengthy list of bibliographic references from among the 3,500 cited in this book is shown for further look-up as desired. This is a very effective way of cross referencing, by species, a shelf of additional material that I grossly estimate to be perhaps ten feet or so wide. I suggest that the most effective use of this thorough and well-researched book is in conjunction with nicely illustrated and somewhat more self-contained guides to Texas herps such as Werler and Dixon's Texas Snakes, Conant's Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians of Eastern & Central North America (Peterson Field Guide Series), or Vermersch's Lizards and Turtles of South Central Texas - for any of which this book is a particularly excellent and useful companion.
As time goes on, the late-1990's content of Dixon's book will need to be updated again (the first edition of this work was released 13 years before the current edition) or it will cease to be as current and useful as it still is even today - some five years after its 2000 publication. On the other hand, even if not timely updated, this book will remain an excellent and vital snapshot in time of the literature and known distribution of the Texas herpetofauna. Anyone wishing to enhance or complete their knowledge of specific Texas herps should certainly refer to this book or consider adding this excellent, moderately priced book to their herp library depending upon how often they wish to refer to it.
As an afterword, it is interesting to note that most books - certainly those able to pass the rigors of marketing scrutiny that commercial publishers require today before a book is accepted for publication - don't need operating instructions; one just needs merely to read the book. Unfortunately, however, this book is different. Because of its rather unusual style and content, the appearance of the book is not "friendly", and at first blush it seems to contain a lot of arcane tabular data and mysterious code without adequate plain English text to "decode" it. Of course this is not the case. This tabular information and code is the meat of Dixon's book, being the wealth of the distribution data and the excellent, cross-referenced bibliographic references. One should try to visualize that with the use of this book there is a ten-foot long shelf of accompanying reference material stretched across a library table, and that this book is the codex that translates between that wealth of outstanding reference material and shorter, more user-friendly herp reference books. With this understanding, the true value of Dixon's book can be appreciated.
Just note that although the book has been in print for nearly four years as of the time of this writing, there has been only one short review of this book on Amazon.com, titled "Book Not For Amateurs", which states that "Unless you are a serious student of herpetology, do not buy this book. It does not contain photos or descriptions intended for the use of the general public, but tables and numbers that mean nothing to me. If you don't know what you are looking for, you are certainly not going to find it here. This was an expensive lesson for me to learn. I hope this prevents someone else from doing the same."
How sad to read that poor Amazon.com review: I can only hope it didn't discourage anyone who could have benefited from reading/using Dixon's fine book. Proof positive of the absolute need for this book review!
My only complaint is that we could sure use a 2005 update. Also, Dixon's insightful comments under the species accounts (updated in the 2000 edition)would be even better if they were more extensive.
This was an expensive lesson for me to learn. I hope this prevents someone else from doing the same.