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Equinox: Life, Love, and Birds of Prey Paperback – October 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

He wanted to finally "do falconry right." Writer Dan O'Brien had a chance, with his physician wife leaving their South Dakota ranch on a year-long fellowship, to devote himself to training hunting falcons. O'Brien writes passionately about living close to nature, and provides a detailed and fascinating look at a very unusual avocation. Considering himself a hunter, O'Brien expresses outrage that he is "grouped with [National Rifle Association] cretins who use hunting season as an opportunity to prove something about their manhood." Equinox is a lyrical tale about the revelations of life, a story we haven't heard before told in crystalline prose. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

O'Brien gives a good idea of what the ancient sport of falconry--rarely featured on those outdoors cable shows--involves. Basically, you take a wild raptor, train it to hunt game (usually grouse, ducks, and other birds) for you, and get a dog to sniff out prey for you and the bird to kill. There is also a particular lingo associated with falconry, and for the uninitiated, O'Brien provides a glossary. He sets his exposition against the backdrop of his fiftieth birthday, which he styles his equinox (hence the title), during a season spent with falcons and dogs on the South Dakota prairie. Besides falconry, he makes side trips to fish, hunt by other means, and separate, rather painfully, from his wife. Despite that slice of life, O'Brien keeps falcons pretty much at the center of things, so that his book gives what many a good book gives, a peek at a different way of living. Jon Kartman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803234597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803234598
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,442,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was surprised at how good this book was. I expected it to be a primer for my interest in falconry but found it to be so much more. It is a fantastic account of the training of a raptor and the relationship between man and bird. Obviously passionate about his undertaking the author describes the training process in vivid detail making a compelling story to the end. With an equally interesting personal story that parallels his bird of prey adventure this book makes for a very enjoyable read.
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Format: Hardcover
I have had an interest in falconry and raptors in general since adolescence but have never been able to make the total commitment neccesary to care for one. Reading about it and hunting with friends who fly birds of prey has been my best outlet to enjoy this truly remarkable partnership between man and bird. Every facet of the author's story, from his relationship to the land, to the dogs, to the birds,to the prey, to his friends, reminded me of the things I hold dear in my life and that make my time spent here very full.

A great read!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having begun working with birds of prey (in a rehabilitation center) in the last couple of years I have searched for books that gave more personal insights into the practice of falconry. Mr.O'Brien certainly knows his subject and does a fine job of describing the sport and the birds themselves. His accounts of hacking (early training) young peregrines in particular are excellent. I found his descriptions of what can go wrong, as well as right, in the caring and training of these birds quite illuminating and engrossing. His use of falconers-speak is well balanced with the story and the annotations quite helpful for those unfamiliar with the sport.
I unfortunately found the overall concept of a man in midlife attempting to convince the reader that he is on a quest for some sort of middle age epiphany a bit trying. His relationship with his wife - an anesthesiologist who spends the majority of her time in a sleep deprived state, taking hospital call, and generally supporting his rather indulgent and self-centered lifestyle- frustrated me and was distracting from an otherwise interesting story about the training of a gifted young peregrine falcon.
I give much credit to Mr. O'Brien for being a man in touch with nature and clearly environmentally sensitive and conservation oriented. But, as my wife said after finishing the book, he comes across as something of a jerk in his personal life. Given that Mr. O'Brien's skills in describing the beauty of the land he lives on and the animals he has the great privilege of interacting with are most enviable, it's a shame that this aspect diminishes an otherwise excellent story.
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Format: Hardcover
This book lured me in from across a gargantuan bookstore before I'd even turned a page. The cover illustration of a peregrine falcon looking with quiet intensity over one of its folded wings told me "you must read this book."
I'm so glad I did.
I'm interested in falconry and hope to pursue that interest as soon as I have the time and financial resources to devote to it. It is a rich, noble sport, although one all too often glamorized and sensationalized by the media. In Equinox, Dan O'Brien takes falconry and firmly anchors it in the "real." It's a challenging pursuit that necessitates being taken seriously.
Alternating between heartbreaking and breathtaking, O'Brien tells readers of a pivotal time in his midlife where he takes an autumn to fly falcons and shake out his priorities. Weaving in hunger-pang-inducing tales of delicious food with quiet moments of sleeping under a star-filled sky, O'Brien tells us about Harley, a skilled and temperamental female peregrine falcon that impresses and entrances O'Brien almost like a lover...only with feathers and razor-sharp talons.
The masterpiece in this book comes from the magic found in everyday life. Faithful dogs. The steady respect and love of a spouse, even across hundreds of painful miles. The companionship of a good friend and the wisdom of telling it straight. Loss, and how it teaches us even as it's breaking our hearts.
Equinox is about more than falconry. As O'Brien has titled it, it is about life and love, as well as birds of prey. It's an inherently gentle story that will resonate deeply for many readers.
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Format: Hardcover
"[A]n association with wild things has a way of shining an unexpected brilliant light into the darkest crevices of our lives." So writes Dan O'Brien in this beautiful true story of the symbiotic triangle of falcon, dog, and human.
In O'Brien's clear pungent voice are echoes of Peter Matthiessen and, fainter, Walt Whitman. Under his starry South Dakota sky, we feel our connection with everything natural and free. This is a love song to the earth, and a paean to how slowly our attachments grow and how fragile they can be.
O'Brien takes us into the world of falconry. We see falcons stoop (dive) for their prey at incredible speeds. We feel what it is like to be a falcon, as well as a grouse or a duck seeking escape. He also takes us into the truth of his own life, as he faces midlife and the very human sense of challenges not yet met.
This book's smells, sights, and adventures are thrilling. I love and treasure them.
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