Michelle Nijhuis’ spirited and engaging Beloved Beasts tracks the not always predictable course of species protection from the flora and fauna classification system developed in the 18th century by the Swede Carl Linnaeus to the present day. Although much of her subject matter has been previously chronicled, the author makes it new by treating it as one continuous story and by focusing on fascinating personalities like Edge. Her prose flows easily from these pen-portraits to heart-breaking statistics to larger social trends ... Always attuned to ironies and anomalies, Nijhuis points out the changes of heart that changed history ... at its best in illuminating the passing of the conservation torch from one advocate to the next.
Nijhuis parses thorny social and ethical issues, while anchoring this exceptionally comprehensive and enlightening history of conservation to incisive profiles of many ardent and intrepid individuals devoted to protecting animals and their habitats ... Nijhuis spotlights key moments in the evolution of ecological thought and practice inspired by the likes of biodiversity defender Edward O. Wilson, Nobel Prize–winning political economist Elinor Ostrom, and pioneering conservation biologist Michael Soulé. Along the way, she exposes the racism inherent in environmental decimation, chronicles the struggle to establish community-based conservation initiatives, and explains efforts to protect common species before they decline, introducing heroic contemporary innovators. Nijhuis has created a defining and invaluable chronicle of an increasingly urgent lifesaving effort.
A lively, mostly chronological history of ideas extending from 18th-century botanist and taxonomist Carl Linnaeus to modern-day biochemist Jennifer Doudna ... What Beloved Beasts also makes clear is that agreement even between like-minded individuals is difficult ... not didactic, but it’s still a call to action. And it has compassionate advice for readers who yearn for resilience amid the pandemic and the climate crisis ... With urgency, passion, and wit, Nijhuis recognizes those possibilities clearly and writes both to preserve history and predict what may lie ahead ... Alternately heartbreaking and encouraging, Beloved Beasts proposes a larger vision of stewardship – one that extends beyond just winsome or majestic creatures to encompass the entire planet.