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Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and…

by Carl Safina

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9812220,644 (3.8)7

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This fascinating natural history gives listeners a dive deep into the cultures of non-human animals. For generations, scientists rejected the idea that non-human animals lived in societies with their own cultures that they transmitted through their generations. Becoming Wild presents authoritative science disproving that notion through stories of non-human animals living and raising their young. The stories focusing on the family groups that transmit their cultures making this a lively, personal experience. The author, who also narrates this audio version of his book, focuses on members of three vastly different non-human animals living in three vastly different habitats—whales, macaws, and chimpanzees. He uses each to demonstrate not just that these animals have and transmit culture within their groups but further to show how these animals use their cultures to, in his words, “raise families, create beauty, and achieve peace”. ( )
  WildMaggie | May 18, 2021 |
The question of animal culture is fascinating (and full disclosure: I'm a believer), so I was eager to read this book exploring it. But I just couldn't get very far with it. I abandoned it part way through the "Beauty" section on parrots and macaws, even though I'm a birder and was entranced by Richard Prum's important 2017 book [b: The Evolution of Beauty|31624963|The Evolution of Beauty How Darwin's Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World—And Us|Richard O. Prum|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1474521170l/31624963._SY75_.jpg|52306798] (which didn't make the "Selected Bibliography" though other Prum articles are cited in footnotes). Why? Because I just couldn't take any more of Safina's breathless, repetitive, "look-at-my-glorious-prose" writing. Carl: once you have established that sperm whales hunt in deep water, we do not need your endless permutations of "frigid depths," "profound deepness," "black depths," et al. Nor the labored efforts to describe every possible appearance of the ocean: "I gaze at the slaty sea. It's hazy, glary, breezy, choppy. Bleak." "...dazzling chop... shimmering shards of brightness... pure glitter. - in just two adjacent pages. Safina's constant insertion of himself, his musings, and his writerly theatrics distract from and pad the story he's supposed to be telling. Which is indeed filled with wonders. Thomas Beale's 19th century observations on sperm whales are detailed and appreciative, noting their caution, family closeness, and generally gentle behavior - all the more poignant in light of the ongoing decades of butchery. I learned a lot about sperm whales in these chapters, a little bit about the researcher who has devoted years to studying and listening to them, and just way too much about Carl Safina. Disappointing. ( )
  JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this audiobook from LTER. I listen to lots of audiobooks since I’m in the car frequently. Unfortunately this one didn’t consistently hold my interest. The section on whales was way too long and too detailed. My favorite section was the last one with monkeys. Generally the book seemed like editing might have helped. I definitely learned a lot about the various species and The research done was phenomenal. Lastly, as several other reviewers indicated, the narration was a distraction. ( )
  andrea58 | Jan 5, 2021 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am going to restrain from reviewing this until I've had a chance to read it, as the audiobook sent me, read by the author, is deplorable. I have great respect for Safina, and hope to better understand his argument via print.
  jlbattis | Oct 13, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This long (14 hour) audiobook is my favorite wildlife book of the year to date.

How can a a herd of wild animals find water in a drought year or know another source of food or shelter in the hard times? It’s often an elder of the herd that has been through the situation before than can recall where they went in a previous time of struggle. The older animal, often a matriarch, takes the lead, and by showing younger members the solution hand their hard won knowledge down through the generations. Such learning is not hard wired into DNA. This makes it more flexible, more easily changed and communicated and contributes to the survival of the group and is the definition of culture.

Although this book focuses on such diverse species as whales, Macaw Parrots, and chimpanzees, many other species are briefly examined, too.

It addresses emotions not always attributed to animals – love, grief, altruism and even a search for beauty and harmony.

It’s a fascinating book. Although my life in Montana makes me very familiar with domestic animals and wildlife, I won’t look at animals and birds the same way again. ( )
  streamsong | Sep 30, 2020 |
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