Customer Reviews: The Race to Save the World's Rarest Bird: The Discovery and Death of the Po'ouli
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on May 11, 2008
I found this book to be interesting, important and informative for three reasons. First, it documents some of the causes and events surrounding the last few years of the po'ouli's existence and extinction for posterity. Second, it is very engaging; Mr. Powell has written a fast-paced chronicle of events that (despite the somber subject) is entertaining to read. Third, the book provides insight into a government program that is intended to protect endangered and threatened species, but which can fall short of the mark due to political and budget issues - despite the best efforts and intentions of many dedicated field personnel trying to save these rare creatures and their diminishing habitat.
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on August 31, 2008
A true-life, real-people story about a struggle to save a species. This book is very captivating, well-researched, well-written, and extraordinarily referenced. It really captures the passion that conservationists have, how closely entwined their work is with their personal beliefs and values, and how personally devastated they are by conservation losses. It captures the sometimes agonizing triage that conservationists in Hawaii have to deal with on a daily basis -- as well as the incredible Hawaiian landscapes that fuel their passion.
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on March 26, 2008
A compelling account of the discovery of a tiny bird in the Hawaiian rain forest and the desperate efforts to save it from extinction. Author Al Powell has allowed us to see in a concrete way man's impact on the environment and the effectiveness of the policies and technologies we use to protect species endangered because of it. His story allows us to work alongside biologists as they celebrate the discovery of the bird in the 1970s and experience their growing horror over its fast-dwindling numbers. By the 1990s only three birds remained in wild. He shows how biologists' attempts to save the bird culminates in captive breeding that fails in 2004 as they witness the last known member of a species die in a cage. Must reading for nature lovers, bird lovers, science buffs and anyone concerned about the world we live in.
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on June 21, 2010
In his introduction, Alvin Powell alluded to an existing sentiment that "no species should go extinct quietly." This book is his "shout-out" for the Po'ouli, a rare Hawaiian bird, now considered extinct, but whose story could aptly serve as an archetype for all endangered species.

This is a fascinating account of our struggle to preserve the few remaining individuals of a species, which ultimately fails, but, nevertheless, should be apprehended by all of us in the hope that our understanding, empathy, and activism will help save those species presently on the precipice of destruction.

A narrative told with a reporter's flair, "The Race to Save the World's Rarest Bird..." is extensively researched, interesting, informative, spiritually challenging, and clearly written. I highly recommend this book to all who are concerned about man's unique role in the preservation ( and destruction) of all life on this planet.

I, too, strongly agree that "no species should go extinct quietly." I would like to thank the author for introducing me to the Po'ouli.
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on July 22, 2008
It isn't often that I pick up a non-fiction book but after hearing about this book from a friend, I got myself a copy. At first I figured I would read a few pages a day between reading my other 'summer' reads but I found that I couldn't put it down. Mr. Powell paints a vivid picture of not only the fate of this poor bird but how man can very easily alter the environment of an entire island. I learned more than I expected about extinction and how our government attempts to manage it.

I recommend this book to any bird lover or anyone who wants to get a better grasp of what it really means to save the environment. I even recommended it to my husband and he, too, read it cover to cover.
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on June 14, 2008
The well structured narrative of this book nicely interweaves dramatic action surrounding the po'ouli with exposition on the state of wildlife conservation at the turn of the 21st century. The author uses the plight of a vanishing bird to stand in for the current state of human interaction with nature. The prose is simple and direct, presenting scientific and bureaucratic details in ways easy to understand. This book stands out on the crowded science and nature shelf, and I eagerly anticipate Mr. Powell's next effort.
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on February 16, 2010
Mr. Powell writes compellingly, with a tone that's neither too clinical nor too sentimental; the story draws you in and keeps you engaged from start to finish. It is a disquieting statement on the general vulnerability of wildlife against a number of threatening factors, the most disturbing of these being a lack of public awareness and the hopelessly tangled web of government bureaucracy. This book is worthy of a place on any nature lover's shelf alongside the likes of Joseph Wood Krutch, Edward Abbey, and others.
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on January 31, 2016
No need to add to all the 5 star reviews so far. I'd give it six if that was available.
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on October 20, 2013
Out of college, I worked in the same forest highlighted in this book managing invasive species. Like some of the people interviewed in the story, the work I did there motivated me to pursue a graduate degree and shaped the course of my career. The story tugged at my heart, as I know how difficult the conditions and environment are in that area of Maui and can not imagine the sense of loss felt by those working in the watershed when the last bird died. This story offers an incredible look into the bureaucracy and stresses of conservation management often witnessed not only in Hawaii but all over the planet in various programs big and small. It should be required reading for resource managers and environmental scientists in training, as it draws on lessons learned in what works and what doesn't in endangered species management. The book is also a fantastic read for anyone with an interest in Hawaiian biota or birds in general.
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