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The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction Paperback – April 14, 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
David Quammen does an exemplary job of leading his readers through almost two centuries of significant ideas and debates related to "island biogeography," a subject which is a lot more interesting and certainly a lot more significant than it might sound. Begining with the fascinating story of the Darwin vs. Wallace story vis-a-vis "who really came up with the theory of evolution first?" Quammen goes on to explain and illustrate just why the biogeography of islands is so important to any consideration of biodiversity and wildlife conservation for the world as a whole.
In weaving this historical narrative, Quammen doesn't just encapsulate theories (though he does this in some detail), he takes his reader into the field where the sometimes abstract principles behind diversity/rarity/extinction are actually demonstrated through the predicaments faced by various creatures. Quammen ventures to the Aru Islands, the Galapagos, Madagascar, Guam, Tasmania, Mauritius, Barro Colorado Island in Panama, the Amazonian rain forest, and on and on. It's a veritable world tour of places where rare and endangered animals struggle for existence in a world where human encroachment is causing an alarming acceleration in the rate of species extinction.
Through his mostly fascinating discussion of places, species, and biologeographical theories and the people behind those theories, Quammen shows an unusual ability to restate abstruse ideas in clear and understandable terms.Read more ›
Quammen's resurrection of Alfred Russell Wallace was long overdue. Others have tried to bring this figure back into common knowledge, but the revival was either to accuse Darwin of plagiarism or taint Wallace's accomplishments with the flaws of penury and spiritualism. Quammen handles him as a total human being who achieved through inspiration in a delirium, what Darwin took two decades to accomplish. Quammen doesn't need to balance the two, he's more concerned with explaining the concepts in ways we can understand.
It's Quammen's ability to make you feel you are accompanying him on his quest to see how Nature that places him far above other science writers. He understands the issues, recognizes the value of the research being done and presents the methods and events alike with unblemished clarity. As a writer concerned with the impact of humanity on the world's environment, Quammen exhibits a unique talent.Read more ›
When most people look at animals they only see the animals--tigers, tortoises, hornbills, rhinos and so on. They never ask why an animal is the way it is or how it got that way; where it came from and what it is like. Few wonder why animals are where they are and why they're not where they're not. Quammen does, so he takes readers on an intriguing and fascinating tour of island biogeography that relates the history of famous early biologists from Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and Joseph Hooker to biogeographers of today like Michael Soulé and Edward O. Wilson.
Quammen's bibliography is 23 pages of references in very tiny type. Fortunately, despite years spent researching Dodo, Quammen wasn't content to spend all his time reading dry academic papers and obscure texts. Instead he broke out his hiking boots and retraced the steps of some of these explorers. He describes his personal experiences colorfully with analogies, anecdotes and descriptions. If you've been to some of the places he describes, you feel like you ought to go back to see through opened eyes. If you haven't been there, you feel like you ought to go--with Quammen's book in your backpack. Here's his description of Komodo dragons being fed a goat carcass by rangers on Komodo Island in Indonesia.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating introduction to why and how new species evolve and someday become extinct. Islands are a perfect laboratory to show this, and Quamman makes you see the earth as a... Read morePublished 3 months ago by David O. Beim
If I knew what "tour du force" meant, it is probably something one could reasonably say about this book.
Great read. Read more
Love this book though it needs a lot of time. For me it's something to read along side other different kinds of books. Read morePublished 5 months ago by L. Wilson
Void of actual scientific truths. Full of speculative conjectures that are pushed way further than they should be.Published 6 months ago by Heath
Recommended for anyone interested in natural history, evolution, ecology, or conservation biology.Published 7 months ago by M. Jones
Quammen can write like nobody out there, except maybe John McPhee. This is an important book, a very great read for the scope of its topic, and the groundedness of its writing. Read morePublished 8 months ago by JoyceMary
Comprehesive book of specific extinctions, plus understanding of what could happen to endangered species.Published 11 months ago by Dustin LaBrier