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The Extinction Club
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0688175392, Hardcover)Robert Twigger isn't your typical nature writer, focusing intently on the life habits of an endangered and misunderstood species. In The Extinction Club he rambles and reflects his way all around his ostensible topic--the nearly extinct Pere David's deer. In fact, he spends the first fifty or so pages telling readers why he wrote the book, and musing on everything from libraries to his grandfather. It's a slow start for readers curious about the deer, but once Twigger begins divulging details about how the species, native to China, has survived in Bedfordshire, England, you'll be hooked. Twigger has a hipster's sense of irony and a postmodern storyteller's keen sense of the absurd, allowing him to avoid a lot of nature-writing clichés. Critics have accused him of being self-referential, and he does spend too much time in The Extinction Club describing meetings with publishers, his time at a survival camp, and his life in Oxford. But the book works in the end, both as a history of a little-known chapter of wildlife biology and as a meditation on nature and truth. --Therese Littleton
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:28 -0400)
"For 1,000 years, Milu - an exotic species of deer- - existed only in the Chinese Emperor's private park in Beijing. Milu was odd-looking, with the neck of a camel, the horns of a stag, the feet of a cow and the tail of a donkey." "In the second half of the nineteenth century, a Basque missionary, Pere David, became the first Westerner ever to see Milu. Eventually, he acquired some bones and a pelt, which were shipped in a diplomatic bag to Paris. The cured remains caused excitement across Europe, as zoologists clamoured to get hold of a live specimen. Soon, every major nation in Europe had a Milu or two. But the deer did not thrive, and most of them quickly died." "The one exception was in Bedfordshire - at Woburn, the family seat of the eleventh Duke of Bedford. The Duke was an eccentric. His favourite plant was the giant hogweed. He was devoted to Milu, and under his care it flourished." "Meanwhile in China, during the period of the Boxer Rebellion, Milu gave up the ghost. It was extinct in its own homeland. Today, for a price, one can shoot a Milu in wide-game reserves located throughout the world. But especially in Texas."--BOOK JACKET.
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