RaveThe Wall Street JournalThat Castor canadensis \'made America\' sounds like hyperbole, but in her book Ms. Philip...finds a shrewd angle that I think justifies her claim ... Beaverland is more than a natural history of the species. It is also in parts a memoir, a local and national history, and a sort of quest narrative that begins with Ms. Philip’s fascination with the beavers maintaining several dams and a pond near her home. Her most compelling guides along the way are those who challenge her own sensibilities—Mr. Sobanski and fur buyer Harlen Lien—and who are each portrayed with nuance and empathy ... Beaverland itself is as full of charm and wonder as its beguiling protagonist. The book’s ultimate—and unanswered—question is whether this continent’s two engineering species can coexist with each other. For its own good, the one with the excavators had better learn (like Dorothy Richards) how to share its space.
RaveWall Street JournalThis excellent book is buoyed by deft portraits of the important players on either side of the nets—poignantly so in regard to some honest scientists whose careers were derailed by industry attacks—and its final chapters describe some hopeful initiatives now in progress: for example, substituting insect larvae, algae oil, domesticated animal by-products, etc. for the \'fish\' in fish meal...Better yet, new technology is making it possible to grow salmon in closed tanks on land, where waste can be filtered out and treated, diseases and parasites kept outside, and escape becomes impossible.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Butcher finds a way to make her story as much about the crisscross knot that is America today as it is about her and Joy, their short time together, and those men whom women love and too often fear ... The author’s narrative covers two brief visits to Alaska, but it is shot through with poignant insights about that extraordinary place and the extraordinary woman who drew her there ... \'Listen to this landscape,\' Joy tells the author during their journey. “We can be anyone.” By listening so well to that landscape and to her plucky companion, Ms. Butcher indeed finds untapped reserves of self-reliance, and finally the power to reinvent herself. She also tells a rattling good story.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalStructured according to the seasons, these essays range though memoir, natural history, ecology, politics and Alaska history. But they never stray far from the free-range ungulate—the North American subspecies of the animals called reindeer in Europe and Asia—that was the foundation of the Kantner family economy, and whose biology and behaviors are marvels of adaptation to the rigors of this environment ... I expected this book to be heartbreaking, given the way things are going not only with caribou but with others among, ahem, our animal friends. But my own years living in the Alaskan bush are now three decades distant, and I was not prepared for how portentous for us all are the reports of this current resident ... Mr. Kantner is a fine writer, an even better photographer. Tundra landscapes, in their majesty and sweep—and the imposing caribou as well—are underrated for their beauty. The breathtaking photographs that illustrate this book, in concert with essays that describe all that is happening underfoot and beyond the horizon to unravel this beauty, make A Thousand Trails Home gut-wrenching in its impact.
Amanda M Fairbanks
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThe author’s focus rests—as the subtitle promises—as much (or more) on the living as the dead, and on the days and weeks and years that both preceded and followed the loss of the Wind Blown off eastern Long Island in a March 1984 nor’easter ... The Lost Boys begins its revolutions, looping in time back and then forward and then back again as its spotlight moves from one family to another and returns ... The conspicuous turmoil of the Stedman and Connick families—where both Mike and Dave rebel against powerful, imperious fathers and also the moneyed world they represent, and where other issues come to light as well—dominates the narrative ... The bedrock of this story, though, lies in the shared grief that transcends the distinctions of class and the grievances of personal history, and that makes each of the characters in this tale—which, yes, is riveting—sympathetic ... This is a book eloquent with the sorrow and the beauty of being on this earth, and no less expressive of the love. After all, the author writes, \'grieving is the last way we get to love someone.\'
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalWhat Susan Orlean accomplished for the strange, hermetic world of orchid hunting in her 1998 classic The Orchid Thief, Monte Burke does for another strange, hermetic world in his wonderful Lords of the Fly: Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World-Record Tarpon.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalIt is a beautiful book, spangled throughout with stunning color photographs of a lovely fish, of pristine streams and landscapes. It’s a coffee-table book shrunk to shelf-size, but the images are pertinent and illuminating, and there is nothing throwaway about the text that surrounds them or about the recipes for salmon dishes from all over the world and past centuries ... If the past and the present described here indeed portend our common fate, we’ll wait until it’s too late.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMooallem makes brilliant use of two fortunate circumstances for telling this story ... You’ll feel like you’re there as Mr. Mooallem, a veteran journalist and author, describes the surreal sensations of reality coming apart around and underneath you ... Mr. Mooallem’s rich cast of characters ranges from top officials to ordinary citizens, but tying all their stories together is the plucky woman who assumed among her responsibilities that of preventing the breakdown of civil society ... Mooallem uses historical distance from this event to stop us in our tracks and give us a glimpse of what’s to come ... [a] powerful, heart-wrenching book, as much art as it is journalism.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... starts slowly, with an introduction that gives away too much story with too little context. But once we settle into a journey that follows the movement of the carp from the lower Mississippi to the Upper Midwest, and once we start meeting the scientists, aquaculturists and officials who variously abet and thwart each other at the front lines of that migration, the tale assumes a certain grandeur. It becomes a gracefully composed exemplar of the human species’ disputatious struggle to protect its own habitat while those of so many other species are disappearing or shifting.