- Paperback: 704 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (April 14, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684827123
- ISBN-13: 978-0684827124
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction Paperback – April 14, 1997
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In a wonderful weave of science, metaphor, and prose, David Quammen, author of The Flight of the Iguana, applies the lessons of island biogeography - the study of the distribution of species on islands and islandlike patches of landscape - to modern ecosystem decay, offering us insight into the origin and extinction of species, our relationship to nature, and the future of our world. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Quammen (Natural Acts) has successfully mixed genres in this highly impressive and thoroughly enjoyable work. The scientific journalism is first-rate, with the extremely technical field of island biogeography made fully accessible. We learn how the discipline developed and how it has changed conservation biology. And we learn just how critical this field is in the face of massive habitat destruction. The book is also a splendid example of natural history writing, for which Quammen traveled extensively. The Channel Islands off California and the Madagascan lemurs are captivatingly portrayed. Equally impressive are the character studies of the scientists who have been at the forefront of island biogeography. From his extended historical analysis of the journeys and insights of 19th-century biologist Alfred Russell Wallace to his field and laboratory interviews with many of the men and women who have followed in Wallace's intellectual wake, Quammen delightfully adds the human dimension to his discussion of science and natural history. Using a canvas as large as the world, he masterfully melds anecdotes about swimming elephants, collecting fresh feces from arboreal primates in Brazil and searching for the greater bird of paradise on the tiny island of Aru into an irreverent masterpiece. That a book on so technical a subject could be so enlightening, humorous and engaging is an extraordinary achievement. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Great read. A pleasurable meandering through an interesting and important topic for species conservation.
If you prefer books that are short and to the point, then this probably isnt for you. At over 600 long pages, it does take Quammen an exceptional number of words to get to a fairly concise and concrete point. In fact, early in the book (chapter 2 maybe) he spoils the ending and that one sentence spoiler basically says it all.
That said, the book as a whole does a very admirable job in walking through a variety of very interesting and informative material to reinforce the entire concept for the inevitable premise to which it is all directed.
The book reads as a part history, part travelogue, and part science text, with a little humor and a lot of introspection thrown in to round it out.
Read this expecting the journey instead of a tailored economy of words in service of the thesis, and enjoy it as you go.
Quammen is engaging and this is a very good read.
There is no real evidence available one way or the other. While Quammen claims to be neutral on the subject it soon became clear to me that he fell squarely into the second camp. I found many of his comments to be inappropriate and even a little offensive. Darwin was no saint, nor was he a devil and the same holds true for Wallace. They were just human and as such were subject to the same mistakes and failings that we all are. The other turning point in the book was the sudden switch from Island Biogeography to Social Science with a long segment on the cultural history of the Tasmanian Aborigines. While that was interesting in its own right, for me it was the subject for another book and not the one I was currently reading. In the latter half of the book I grew weary of the endless run of interview after interview on how various working biologist felt about the Equilibrium Theory or how the SLOSS Theory applied to their particular field of study. For me this book was a big disappointment. The final decision to buy or not to buy is, of course, yours. Any review is just the reviewers opinion so it a good idea to read several of them, both pro and con, then take the plunge (think of the famous feline alluded to in my review title). As for my recommendation? If, after you've done your home work, you're still undecided you may want to borrow the book from your local library. If you read it and don't like it, then nothing's lost but your time. If you do like it and want to add it to your collection then go for it (if I had followed my own advise I would have saved the price of this book).
I had no technical problems with this Kindle edition.
It took me a long time to read this book not because it wasn't interesting, but because it covered a wide-range of related topics. It was as if several good books had been rolled into one.
The book focuses on biogeography. Quammen talks about the great people who've contributed to the field (beginning with Darwin and Wallace, of course,) and also talks about island extinctions (as they have been much more numerous than continental extinctions).
I found the stories about Darwin and Wallace fascinating. The chapters on rare, extinct, and (unfortunately) introduced species were the best part of the book for me. He also talks about recent studies and debates like SLOSS. Then Quammen ends the book with his own trip to Aru after years of carrying around a copy of Wallace's The Malay Archipelago.
My one criticism is in regards to the Kindle edition due to the page numbers and percentage. When I finished the book, it said I was only 60% done even though the chapters before the glossary end around page 600 out of 695. That's not 60% Kindle.
I recommend this book to anyone with interest in islands, habitat carrying capacity, and the history of natural sciences. It's a sober topic and an eye-opening read, but Quammen throws in some of his charm and wit as needed and expected.