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Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness Hardcover – July 27, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Haupt, former raptor rehabilitator and seabird researcher, embarks on an urban ornithological expedition to defend the honor of the crow, the ubiquitous bird whose corvid family precedes Homo sapiens by several million years and whose symbolic and actual role as a scavenger and œliaison between life and death evokes reactions ranging from revulsion to awe. Attracted to the sight of the birds nesting in her backyard, the author follows them as they forage in the moss along neighborhood streets and cavort in a nearby wildlife preserve. Her forays into Seattle's œtenacious wild demonstrate evidence of the crow community's social complexity, their extensive vocabulary and fierce loyalty to their mates and species, Haupt enlivens her observations with tidbits from crow mythology and history, discovering that their bad press dates to the 14th-century outbreak of the bubonic plague when the birds scavenged the dead bodies lying in the streets, œbeginning, horribly, with the eyeballs. Despite some awkward prose, Haupt succeeds in humanizing the object of her naturalist obsession and affection. (July)
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"A completely charming and informative book on the pleasures of keeping one's eyes open." (David Sedaris)

"In a lyrical narrative that blends science and conscience, Haupt mourns the encroachments of urbanization, but cherishes the wildness that survives." (New York Times)

"A personal book, one that uses [Haupt] and her fondness for crows to cast its interests toward large concepts such as conservation, the environment, and learning to live more thoughtfully."-Seattle Times

"With her sensitivity, careful eye and gift for language, Haupt tells her tale beautifully...immersing us in a heady hybrid of science, history, how-to and memoir."-Los Angeles Times

"If you live in a city and want to expand your awareness of the natural world, CROW PLANET would be a compelling and inspirational book. If you love or hate or are mystified by crows, it is an essential one."-The Oregonian

"A delightful meditation on our role in the natural world...[Haupt] provides a rich context for exploring the relationship between humans and nature."-Library Journal, Starred review

"Haupt writes gracefully about the interactions between crows and humans in the urban landscape and what those interactions portend for the future of the zoöpolis. A fresh take on conscious living in the everyday world." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Haupt enlivens her observations with tidbits from crow mythology and history [and] succeeds in humanizing the object of her naturalist obsession and affection."--Publishers Weekly

"If you picture Henry David Thoreau as a young mother and scientist in suburban Seattle, you can begin to imagine the literate elegance of Crow Planet. Lyanda Haupt has spun the natural life of neighborhoods, and most poignantly the surpassing intelligence of crows, into the kind of gold only the most gifted writer and naturalist could fashion. Crow Planet is a small treasure, a conversion experience of truth, wit, and re-enchantment that remakes the world and our place within it."--Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest and Natural Capitalism

"Haupt captures crows wonderfully in elegant prose and weaves a thoughtful tale that connects them from St. Benedict's philosophy of lecti divina of 480 CE to our growing awareness of our kinship to, and dependence on, the rest of life."--Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven

"Lyanda Haupt observes crows with a naturalist's eye and discovers that they are smart, social, and disturbingly like us...Your strolls around your neighborhood will be much more interesting after you read this book."--Denis Hayes, national coordinator for the first Earth Day and President and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation

"The fiction (sometimes the hope!) that you can escape from nature by living in the city is as sad as it is widespread. This book will remind you to open your eyes to the mundane--it will make the city a far richer place for you."--Bill McKibben, author of The Bill McKibben Reader

"Crow Planet gently confronts us with the desperate need for mindfulness as we go about our daily lives in the urban wilderness so that evolution may continue and we may stem the loss of our humanity."--Maggie Ross, author of The Fire of Your Life: A Solitude Shared

"Haupt creates an amalgam of ornithology, mythology, philosophy, and advice on how to engage with­--and some warnings about our effects on­--nature; the result is an engaging book-long essay on the interconnectedness of life."--Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., author of Alex and Me

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (July 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316019100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316019101
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #589,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Howard Clark Jr. on August 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Haupt has written a much needed book for today's busy lifestyle. We all hear about nature and how we need to respect it, but often we don't know how, or even where to begin. Haupt tackles this problem by simply focusing on one animal, the crow. It's a bird common to most people and easy to spot, unlike most songbirds that stay in the trees and are hard to study. Crows are out in the open and, being members of the corvid family, are intelligent and lively. Crows and other corvids are problem-solvers; they enjoy manipulating items and seem to think about what they are doing.

Haupt uses the crow as a communication tool to open the reader to the world of nature and observation. The book is filled with interesting stories about crows, and is solid with information on crow behavior, ecology, and general biology. Haupt has done her homework, not just on crow ecology, but also how to relate this ecology to philosophy and everyday thinking about global issues. In the book we see the journey crows take between life and death, and how we should relate to these concepts in our own lives.

Haupt brings up a topic about which I have strong feelings. There seems to be a void in the lives of our children regarding nature. It seems that young folk would rather stay indoors and fi ddle with electronic devices than venture outside and poke around in shrubbery and trees or lift rocks to discover the small worlds within. My daughter is two years old and is allowed, under supervision of course, to freely explore nature. As we pull weeds in the back yard, or work in the garden, she observes insects and toads, and I teach her that these things are alive and interesting.
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Format: Hardcover
An inspired choice for any bird lover or reading group, Crow Planet is the author's personal journey to better understand nature in the urban landscape in which we live. Her work is a conversation with the reader pondering questions like: What is nature? How do we effect it and it us? And how can we better understand the ecology of the neighborhood surrounding us?

Crows are the gateway into her growth as an Urban Naturalist and we are invited along to wonder at their intelligence and adaptability.

There is a breezy style to Haupt's prose that is thought provoking, wistful, comforting; like reminiscing with an old friend late into the night. In Crow Planet Haupt is equal parts Environmentalist, Biographer and Naturalist, inspiring us to discover more about our own corner of the world. A Great Read!
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Format: Hardcover
I agree with earlier reviewers that this "Crow Planet" could have used a few more corvid inhabitants. Although the ruminations about St Benedict's Law or the author's nervous breakdown were perhaps telling of her reasons for writing in general, I was seeking a more focused book on my favorite birds. In that sense, "Crow Planet" was a letdown.

I will, however, give Haupt major credit for placing crows in an unbiased, objective position, shedding light on the elements driving their population expansion in our rapidly deteriorating biosphere. It always infuriates me when people...those who travel to Africa on safari and cast themselves as wildlife sophisticates because they "understand" the fight for survival of the fittest...castigate our own avian neighbors for merely surviving in a landscape that we ourselves have degraded. I wish I could send each & every one of them a copy of "Crow Planet" for Xmas!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked the crow anecdotes, which were interesting and sometimes touching. I could have done without the preaching and philosophy, however. There was about as much about crows in this book as there is about motorcycles in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Crow Planet" is a lyric book. Most of the text is devoted to the author's feelings, her family, her ideas about nature, the role of man on earth and the like.

The volume is organized in ten chapters, written as small essays, without much relationship among each other. The titles are: Getting Up, Preparing, Reading, Walking, Dwelling, Helping, Seeing, Coexisting , Dying and Flying. There is nothing systematic on them. The reader will not find much scientific or at least observational data. Most of the little information provided about crows is easily found elsewere.

This was not exactly the book I was looking for, but somehow I liked it. It transmits a feeling of peace and "good vibrations" that make it an easy read, in spite of the fact that the author's prose is not simple.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
“Crow Planet”: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Much of this book is a love psalm to the author's own philosophy and lifestyle and she uses crows much more as icons for her eclectic orientation than as topics of study. And that is perfectly fine. Eclectic folks and their outlooks are just as valid and often more fun than plenty of other people I've met.
I suppose Haupt could be described as an eco-freak but, if so, she is surely one of the more palatable ones. She might be described as a serendipitous philosopher but that probably tags almost anyone who takes charge of their life on their own terms instead of The Company's or The Government's terms. She certainly deserves to be labeled a talented writer because she writes with an entertaining style that, oddly enough, actually resembles the congenial writings of one Elizabeth Bacon Custer – widow of the gentleman whose famous military career ended in abrupt and smoky fashion along the Little Bighorn River in 1876.
Eclectic or not, what Haupt has to say here is very worth listening to. She makes a very strong case for “living the MINUTES of our lives right” wherever we are because each minute has value and opportunity that we shouldn't let escape.
She also regularly reminds the reader that the question is often more important than the answer.
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