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The Boilerplate Rhino: Nature in the Eye of the Beholder
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743200322, Paperback)David Quammen, a highly regarded popular-science writer (Song of the Dodo) and novelist, brings a range of qualities to his work as an interpreter of nature: a journalist's talent for finding a good story and telling it well, a scholar's conviction that facts matter, and an amateur naturalist's passion for learning about the way things work. For 15 years, Quammen put these qualities to good use in his Outside magazine column "Natural Acts." The Boilerplate Rhino gathers 26 of those columns between book covers, and to good purpose: every one of them is a keeper. Quammen writes of such matters as the entirely reasonable human fear of spiders (which he shares) and snakes (which he does not); of the work of such groundbreaking theoreticians and thinkers as E.O. Wilson and Henry David Thoreau; of the history of American lawns; the life of the durian fruit; the commodification of nature by way of television documentaries; the strange scholarly fortunes of Tyrannosaurus rex; and the landing patterns of cats in free fall. (Really.) A single theme underpins these scattered pieces: namely, how humans "in all their variousness, regard and react to the natural world, in all its variousness." Quammen explores this theme with good cheer and hard-won knowledge, and his essays teach his readers much about the world. --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 20 Apr 2011 05:33:28 -0400)
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