PositiveThe Wall Street JournalA Traitor to His Species is chock-full of...details, and yet the narrative’s pace never slackens. Expansive yet carefully documented, Mr. Freeberg’s book is less the biography of a man than of a noble effort that eventually spanned the nation ... In the end, A Traitor to His Species isn’t primarily about animals or their rights. Instead, as articulated in Mr. Freeberg’s clear-eyed conclusion, this is a book about us, about the searing truth that how we choose to treat animals reveals what kinds of humans we are.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...dazzling ... Embarking on her own vesper flights but with her eyes trained on animals, Ms. Macdonald reminds us how marvelously unfamiliar much of the nonhuman world remains to us, even as we continue to diminish it ... She is in awe of the \'invisible fungal networks that weave each forest into a symbiotic community, a place full of life hidden from our own\' ... The essays in Vesper Flights give us the literary equivalent of such a resilient network, which is why I would recommend reading them in sequence: Connected by invisible threads, they gradually enmesh the reader in a universe of limitless potentiality, where a livable future suddenly becomes imaginable again. Acknowledging that nature exists everywhere, not only in places where humans don’t live, means that there are things, big and small, we can and must do: design houses so that they offer space where swifts may nest; switch off the lights in our big cities at night to keep migrating birds from getting confused; demand that a beautiful meadow, home to multiple forms of life, be made part of that new housing development instead of being flattened by asphalt.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...aptly titled, consistently entertaining ... Mr. Musgrave treats us to an extensive, admiring account of his subject’s circuitous route to fame and power ... A designer and historian of gardens, Mr. Musgrave appears to believe that a profusion of carefully cultivated details will yield the maximum overall effect. But with the mercurial Banks, this method doesn’t fully work. Even after more than 300 pages of fact-filled prose marked by a steady penchant for the passive voice...Sir Joseph remains a mystery ... A thoroughly public person, with few tangible traces of an inner life, Banks confused even his contemporaries. They found him to be alternately caring and callous, gentle and coarse, philanthropic and utterly self-centered. He was all these things and yet none of them.