RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewUnder a White Sky is a fascinating survey of novel attempts to manage natural systems of all sizes, from preserving tiny populations of desert fish to altering the entire atmosphere ... Kolbert has for many years been an essential voice, a reporter from the front lines of the environmental crisis. Her new book crackles with the realities of living in an era that has sounded the death knell for our commonly held belief that one can meaningfully distinguish between nature and humanity ... Kolbert has a phenomenal ability to communicate complex scientific information ... She moves us gracefully across numerous scales, from aerial views of clouds reflected in Louisiana lakes right down to an individual scientist picking aquatic beetles from a mesh screen ... One frustration I had was the omission of Black voices in the chapter about land loss and environmental disaster in Louisiana. A significant aspect of managing natural systems has to do with the paternalism of such projects ... Though as a writer she has a transporting ability to conjure place and atmosphere, Kolbert can at times be a strangely elusive presence in her own book. At many points, I wanted desperately to know how she felt about things ... the voice of reportage, like the voice of scientific papers, carries enormous cultural power. It bespeaks objectivity. It’s the voice we are told to use when we want to be taken seriously, when we don’t want our conclusions to be interpreted as simply being emotional; we’re taught such things muddy the force of truth ... Beautifully and insistently, Kolbert shows us that it is time to think radically about the ways we manage the environment; time to work with what we have, using the knowledge we have, with our eyes fully open to the realities of where we are. Rigorous analysis and science journalism, the form in which Kolbert truly excels, is needed now more than ever.
Jonathan C. Slaght
RaveThe Guardian (UK)Slaght has a rare gift for startling evocations of the natural world ... Primoye is a remarkable place, and Slaght’s passion for it is palpable; his fascination with fish owls, too, the reader quickly understands and shares. But I can’t help feeling that the real subject of this book is neither forests nor owls, but fieldwork ... Slaght is a wonderful guide to the reality of fieldwork, a pursuit marked by tests and tribulations that will inspire and drain you, corrode your faith and devotion to your cause, induce vast mood-swings that range from despair to dizzying elation, and that requires a suite of personal and practical skills far from those of a lab-bound scientist. His quest has deep moral, as well as personal significance ... Unlike much current nature writing, Owls of the Eastern Ice does not treat encounters with wild creatures as opportunities for the writer to explore their own emotional and psychological landscape, or to kick-start a discussion of literature, philosophy or social history. In this regard, Slaght’s book is refreshingly old-school, a tautly strung adventure featuring not just the narrator, but his co-workers, his crew. These men crowd the pages fabulously[.]
PositiveThe Atlantic\"There’s joy in The Ravenmaster, as well as tragedy, obsession, and a rare tenderness toward Skaife’s avian charges ... Skaife is doing us, I think, a small political service by introducing us to the quirks and histories of every bird in his care; he is letting us love them in a way that makes them more than mere symbols. Ravens have long been regarded as messengers, and the message the birds in this marvelous book have given me is this: Perhaps, by paying much closer and more careful attention to the reality of the things we unconsciously use to claim the past, we might move a little further toward safety in a world that seems to be teetering on the brink.\
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewI’ve spent decades reading books on the roles animals play in human cultures, but none have ever made me think, and feel, as much as this one. It’s a devastating meditation on our relationship to the natural world. It might be the best book on animals I’ve ever read. It’s also the only one that’s made me laugh out loud ... The formal exuberance of this modern bestiary is exhilarating. In one extraordinary piece, Passarello pleats together the timeline of the history of electricity in America with that of the history of elephants in America, weaving light and darkness, electrocution and executions into a scorching meditation on the violence at the heart of modernity ... Despite her intellectual brilliance, Passarello rejects the dry style of the anthropologist or cultural critic ... Animals Strike Curious Poses speaks of and for the voiceless hordes with whom we share the earth, shows us how we make sense of them and, crucially, how they make sense for us ... the clear analytic coherence running through its wildly disparate essay forms being perhaps this book’s fiercest grace. No matter how long-dead its animal subjects, this is a book with burning current relevance, and not just because we are living through the sixth great extinction ... Animals Strike Curious Poses is as much about our human frailties as it is about animals...It gives one hope that we humans might not be so lonely after all.