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Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds Paperback – May 14, 2009
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In sifting through the ornithological records, Cokinos learned that another brightly colored bird once haunted the skies over eastern Kansas: the Carolina parakeet, long ago driven to extinction by hunting and habitat destruction. Hope Is the Thing with Feathers, a mournful and beautifully written book, offers a powerful meditation on the parakeet's fate, as well as that of other extinct species that lived in North America until the early years of the 20th century: the great auk, the Labrador duck, the heath hen, the passenger pigeon. In a rejoinder to Peter Matthiessen's Wildlife in America, Cokinos celebrates these ghost species, urging the protection of those that remain. "These days hope asks much from us," he allows, grimly observing the carnage that has gone before us. But hope remains, he adds, that some day endangered species will flourish once again. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The Carolina parakeet, Heath Hen, Great Auk, Passenger pigeon, Labrador duck and Ivory-billed woodpecker have with their passing come to represent for Cokinos a lot more than simply another group of vanished species. They are emblematic of lost time, effort, habitat, environment, and are missing slice of life. Poignant as his descriptions of their loss is, there is always an element of hope that suffuses each of his chapters.
Cokinos with this book successfully blends history with a little bit of biology and adds just enough personal observation and insight. The mix works and his writing is excellent. There is enough science here to satisfy those who wish to remain at a respectable distance. For those who don't mind getting close there is sufficient reason - through what these birds represent about our past and future on this planet - to allow them to come and perch in your soul.
It's a sad one in realizing the destruction of various bird species. The chronicles of various species during the late 19th/early 20th century are astonishing to read. It was incredible to read and learn of biologists determined to collect species before they vanished - rather than attempt to preserve them.
Particularly entertaining (in an ironic and sick sort of way) was the tale of the last man to shoot the last Passenger Pigeon. The author did an incredible amount of research and weaves a delightful short story worthy of the purchase of this book in itself.
The writing is simple yet incredibly deep; it brings home an important and moving message that can be understood by a variety of audiences - even those who may not be particularly interested in nature, birds or environmental causes. Poetic and beautifully wrapped up. The only troubling portion of the book is the outcome of the fate of these species - obviously not the fault of the author, who provides a hope of preserving "what we still have" - it is moving, nonetheless ...
A wonderful book!!!
The book chronicles, from a very personal level, the author's research on some of America's more recently extinct birds: the Carolina Parakeet, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Heath Hen, Passenger Pigeon, Labrador Duck and the Great Auk. I imagine that this book would only be of interest to someone who has, at the least, a passing interest in birds. Although the historical context is well represented, it's still a book about birds.
The book is 336 well-written pages with about 30 or 40 black-and-white photographs and drawings. The author included a selected bibliography, index and an interesting Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQ) style interview at the back of the book.
The only drawbacks were the very few occasions where the wonderful prose gives way to a dry, almost painful, regurgitation of historical fact. In addition there are some brief but awkward inclusions of political correctness that don't seem to fit with the overall text.
I would buy this book again without a second thought!
The book covers the Passenger Pigeon, Heath Hen, Carolina Parakeet, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Labrador Duck and Great Auk. Every birder has seen large flocks of Cedar Waxwings practically stripping all the berries from a tree- but imagine a flock of 3,000 Passenger Pigeons (considerably larger than a Mourning Dove, and much noisier) flying into a forest and deciding to nest there. That would be a small colony. It was the most populous bird on earth just a hundred years ago- and now it's gone.
The book is filled with interesting, and sometimes witty stories that will keep the reader from closing the cover. Sometimes, though, Cokinos drags on with information that doesn't seem necessary to the rest of the text- but this, by no means, should discourage you from buying the novel. I definitely recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a wonderful book about several species of birds that have gone extinct (or more properly, were driven into extinction) in this country. Read morePublished on April 21, 2014 by Jeffrey Williams
This is the definitive book on bird extinction. It also inspired The Lost Bird Project. I have actually gone to see the Carolina Parakeet statue in Florida from that same book... Read morePublished on March 4, 2014 by p. oed
If you buy this book you must buy The Lost Bird Project too. An amazing true story of how an artist was inspired by this book and dedicated his life to preserving the memory of... Read morePublished on November 17, 2013 by Susan in Chilmark
This book is about birds that have become extinct. The common link? Man's interference. Killing off these birds, either for the fun of it, for fashion (feathers), or just for... Read morePublished on October 30, 2013 by "Ali"
I'll admit that, judging from the reviews, I'm not a passionate bird lover. I am a person who enjoys scientific non fiction, but this book was a total drag. Read morePublished on October 21, 2013 by Sea Otter
An eye opening book on the untimely extinction of six different birds in the late 1800's and early1900's. All the results of man, through overkilling and loss of habitat. Read morePublished on August 11, 2013 by honey badger
This is a very interesting and heart-rending book about the circumstances and possible causes surround the demise of several bird species. Read morePublished on July 1, 2013 by v p.