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Swampwalker's Journal: A Wetlands Year Paperback – June 14, 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Wet Sneaker Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Wetland. The very word makes environmentalists swoon and real estate developers curse. While squishy places like swamps and bogs used to be considered unfit for human habitation, the 19th and 20th centuries saw a veritable festival of "reclamation" as the world's wetlands were transformed into land usable by humans. But what beauty and natural utility was lost in the process? In Swampwalker's Journal, David M. Carroll transcends the political to find joy in the damp places he has loved since he was a boy. In chapters describing his favorite vernal pools, marshes, swamps, ponds, and bogs, Carroll describes hours spent watching animals frolic in their moist, vegetated homes. Braving mosquito bites and the wrath of bears, he embarks on a journey through these mysterious, underappreciated ecosystems and records their ups and downs faithfully, complete with exquisite illustrations. You feel almost as if you're reading his field journals, the writing is so immediate and full of detail. Here, he describes a hunting heron:

He keeps as still as the breathless afternoon for a time, then moves again, taking several slow strides, each accompanied by a rhythmic, gradual curvilinear extension and retraction of his serpentine neck. From time to time he redirects his head, his long, sharp bill poised, his avid eyes ablaze with focus and intent. His movements are effected with such heron stealth that even in motion he could pass unseen.

Carroll saves his plea for the preservation of these fragile, fading landscapes until the epilogue, allowing readers to become as charmed as he is by the wetlands he loves. Annie Dillard calls David Carroll "a genius, a madman, a national treasure," and you'll agree when you've read this beautiful piece of nature writing, an unforgettable "tour de swamp." --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Artist, writer and environmentalist Carroll completes his "wet-sneaker trilogy" (The Year of the Turtle; Trout Reflections) with this intimate and impassioned exploration of wetlands throughout the northeastern U.S. By attempting to capture the "defining essence" of these placesAtheir hydrology, structure, signature plant and animal speciesACarroll hopes to inspire both a greater appreciation of wetlands and a desire to help protect them. An ardent student of swamps since his first childhood encounter with a spotted turtle, the author is at his best describing the often-overlooked natural dramas unfolding around him: great congresses of salamanders engaged in communal love play; doomed tadpoles searching desperately for shade and water during a drought; a painted turtle's futile attempts to elude a determined raccoon. A patient and gifted observer, Carroll returns to the same haunts season after season in search of old friends like Ariadne, a spotted turtle he has met each spring for 14 years. Amateur naturalists will especially enjoy his carefully detailed descriptions and line drawings, and his thorough knowledge of wetland species. Carroll's anger about the threats facing these increasingly rare areas, and the scorn he evinces toward many environmentalists, strike the only discordant notes in an otherwise lyrical and reflective book. 150 b&w line drawings. Author tour. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1st Paperback Edition edition (June 14, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618127372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618127375
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,435,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
David M. Carroll is one of the finest nature writer/philosophers I've ever come across in my entire reading career. Swampwalker's Journal is a book to be savored, relied upon. Caroll knows the lives of the wetlands so intimately, from first-hand experience over long years, that you know you're getting a privileged glimpse into deep nature. Added to that, he is a truly masterful illustrator, and a graceful, profound writer. I'll be waiting to buy any other book he produces.....
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Format: Hardcover
a perfect book for the armchair naturalist. carroll's skills at observation and illustration are unmatched. more than a field guide, this book serves as a springboard for carroll's cogent ruminations on man and nature.
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Format: Paperback
In addition to what everyone else has said (the poetry of the language, the gorgeous drawings, etc.), this book is especially useful in that it describes the relationships between all the different kinds of wetlands, and within riparian zones in general. It should be required reading for every developer and community activist intent on preserving some hydrologic function in natural areas. This is a wonderful, wonderful book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Carroll has captured nature as it truly is. Like a fine craftsman he was one with the subject and as an artist he has accurately recorded what he observed and has presented the information coherently. I'm left with an indelible, poignant legacy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really liked this book. The book is a series of short stories, really, each focusing on one of the author's experiences in a different type of New England wetland. Together they make a great whole, but you could pick it up and enjoy reading the chapters in any order. The prose leans towards the poetic, so sometimes it was hard to pick it up and read, but once I did, I also had trouble putting it down! I liked the book so much it made me go out and look for frogs last week!
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This book really gets your mind back into nature. The effort on detail yet the subtle explanations enable a biologist or a novice to follow this journey fondly as David treks through various habitats and interacts with biota. As a conservationist with herpetofauna at heart, I greatly enjoyed this book and only wished there were more thinkers and doers like Mr. Carroll.
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