A nature book recommendation: The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2iDhykT.
In telling what might otherwise be a grim tale, Egan, a two-time Pulitzer finalist, nimbly splices together history, science, reporting and personal experiences into a taut and cautiously hopeful narrative.
Book description from Google Books:
The Great Lakes–Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior–hold 20 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water and provide sustenance, work and recreation for tens of millions of Americans. But they are under threat as never before, and their problems are spreading across the continent. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is prize-winning reporter Dan Egan’s compulsively readable portrait of an ecological catastrophe happening right before our eyes, blending the epic story of the lakes with an examination of the perils they face and the ways we can restore and preserve them for generations to come.For thousands of years the pristine Great Lakes were separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the roaring Niagara Falls and from the Mississippi River basin by a “sub-continental divide.” Beginning in the late 1800s, these barriers were circumvented to attract oceangoing freighters from the Atlantic and to allow Chicago’s sewage to float out to the Mississippi. These were engineering marvels in their time–and the changes in Chicago arrested a deadly cycle of waterborne illnesses–but they have had horrendous unforeseen consequences. Egan provides a chilling account of how sea lamprey, zebra and quagga mussels and other invaders have made their way into the lakes, decimating native species and largely destroying the age-old ecosystem. And because the lakes are no longer isolated, the invaders now threaten water intake pipes, hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure across the country.Egan also explores why outbreaks of toxic algae stemming from the overapplication of farm fertilizer have left massive biological “dead zones” that threaten the supply of fresh water. He examines fluctuations in the levels of the lakes caused by manmade climate change and overzealous dredging of shipping channels. And he reports on the chronic threats to siphon off Great Lakes water to slake drier regions of America or to be sold abroad.In an age when dire problems like the Flint water crisis or the California drought bring ever more attention to the indispensability of safe, clean, easily available water, The Death and the Life of the Great Lakes is a powerful paean to what is arguably our most precious resource, an urgent examination of what threatens it and a convincing call to arms about the relatively simple things we need to do to protect it.
The book is rated 4.44/5 at goodreads.com, from 632 ratings. See 172 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2hcSTU0.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2hcT01S.

A nature book recommendation: A Natural History of the Hedgerow: And Ditches, Dykes and Dry Stone Walls by John Wright

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2ixUgNm.
This illustrated survey is historically detailed, enriched by the author’s deep knowledge of British landscapes and natural history.
Book description from Google Books:
It is difficult to think of a more quintessential symbol of the British countryside than the British Hedgerow, bursting with blackberries, hazelnuts and sloes, and home to oak and ash, field mice and butterflies. But as much as we might dream about foraging for mushrooms or collecting wayside nettles for soup, most of us are unaware of quite how profoundly hedgerows have shaped the history of our landscape and our species. One of Britain’s best known naturalists, John Wright introduces us to the natural and cultural history of hedges (as well as ditches, dykes and dry stone walls) – from the arrival of the first settlers in the British Isles to the modern day, when we have finally begun to recognise the importance of these unique ecosystems. His intimate knowledge of the countryside and its inhabitants brings this guide to life, whether discussing the skills and craft of hedge maintenance or the rich variety of animals who call them home. Informative, practical, entertaining and richly illustrated in colour throughout, A Natural History of the Hedgerow is a book to stuff into your pocket for country walks in every season, or to savour in winter before a roaring fire.
The book is rated 3.70/5 at goodreads.com, from 30 ratings. See 5 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2ixTnEm.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2ixTqjw.

A nature book recommendation: The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea by Jack E. Davis

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2ixm2tm.
Davis has written a beautiful homage to a neglected sea, a lyrical paean to its remaining estuaries and marshes, and a marvelous mash-up of human and environmental history. He has also given us the story of how a once gorgeous place was made safe for the depredations of the petrochemical age.
Book description from Google Books:
When painter Winslow Homer first sailed into the Gulf of Mexico, he was struck by its “special kind of providence.” Indeed, the Gulf presented itself as America’s sea–bound by geography, culture, and tradition to the national experience–and yet, there has never been a comprehensive history of the Gulf until now. And so, in this rich and original work that explores the Gulf through our human connection with the sea, environmental historian Jack E. Davis finally places this exceptional region into the American mythos in a sweeping history that extends from the Pleistocene age to the twenty-first century.Significant beyond tragic oil spills and hurricanes, the Gulf has historically been one of the world’s most bounteous marine environments, supporting human life for millennia. Davis starts from the premise that nature lies at the center of human existence, and takes readers on a compelling and, at times, wrenching journey from the Florida Keys to the Texas Rio Grande, along marshy shorelines and majestic estuarine bays, profoundly beautiful and life-giving, though fated to exploitation by esurient oil men and real-estate developers.Rich in vivid, previously untold stories, The Gulf tells the larger narrative of the American Sea–from the sportfish that brought the earliest tourists to Gulf shores to Hollywood’s engagement with the first offshore oil wells–as it inspired and empowered, sometimes to its own detriment, the ethnically diverse groups of a growing nation. Davis’ pageant of historical characters is vast, including: the presidents who directed western expansion toward its shores, the New England fishers who introduced their own distinct skills to the region, and the industries and big agriculture that sent their contamination downstream into the estuarine wonderland. Nor does Davis neglect the colorfully idiosyncratic individuals: the Tabasco king who devoted his life to wildlife conservation, the Texas shrimper who gave hers to clean water and public health, as well as the New York architect who hooked the “big one” that set the sportfishing world on fire.Ultimately, Davis reminds us that amidst the ruin, beauty awaits its return, as the Gulf is, and has always been, an ongoing story. Sensitive to the imminent effects of climate change, and to the difficult task of rectifying grievous assaults of recent centuries, The Gulf suggests how a penetrating examination of a single region’s history can inform the country’s path ahead.
The book is rated 4.25/5 at goodreads.com, from 96 ratings. See 25 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2ixEy4C.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2iydEd4.

A nature book recommendation: The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2iDhykT.
In telling what might otherwise be a grim tale, Egan, a two-time Pulitzer finalist, nimbly splices together history, science, reporting and personal experiences into a taut and cautiously hopeful narrative.
Book description from Google Books:
The Great Lakes–Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior–hold 20 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water and provide sustenance, work and recreation for tens of millions of Americans. But they are under threat as never before, and their problems are spreading across the continent. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is prize-winning reporter Dan Egan’s compulsively readable portrait of an ecological catastrophe happening right before our eyes, blending the epic story of the lakes with an examination of the perils they face and the ways we can restore and preserve them for generations to come.For thousands of years the pristine Great Lakes were separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the roaring Niagara Falls and from the Mississippi River basin by a “sub-continental divide.” Beginning in the late 1800s, these barriers were circumvented to attract oceangoing freighters from the Atlantic and to allow Chicago’s sewage to float out to the Mississippi. These were engineering marvels in their time–and the changes in Chicago arrested a deadly cycle of waterborne illnesses–but they have had horrendous unforeseen consequences. Egan provides a chilling account of how sea lamprey, zebra and quagga mussels and other invaders have made their way into the lakes, decimating native species and largely destroying the age-old ecosystem. And because the lakes are no longer isolated, the invaders now threaten water intake pipes, hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure across the country.Egan also explores why outbreaks of toxic algae stemming from the overapplication of farm fertilizer have left massive biological “dead zones” that threaten the supply of fresh water. He examines fluctuations in the levels of the lakes caused by manmade climate change and overzealous dredging of shipping channels. And he reports on the chronic threats to siphon off Great Lakes water to slake drier regions of America or to be sold abroad.In an age when dire problems like the Flint water crisis or the California drought bring ever more attention to the indispensability of safe, clean, easily available water, The Death and the Life of the Great Lakes is a powerful paean to what is arguably our most precious resource, an urgent examination of what threatens it and a convincing call to arms about the relatively simple things we need to do to protect it.
The book is rated 4.44/5 at goodreads.com, from 619 ratings. See 170 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2hcSTU0.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2hcT01S.

A nature book recommendation: Island Home: A landscape memoir by Tim Winton

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2h7iWfp.
Island Home is a delight to read and a reminder that Australia and the UK are separated by distance and seasons – not to mention our common language…
Book description from Google Books:
“‘I grew up on the world’s largest island.’ This apparently simple fact is the starting point for Tim Winton’s beautiful, evocative, and sometimes provocative, memoir of how this unique landscape has shaped him and his writing. For over thirty years, Winton has written novels in which the natural world is as much a living presence as any character. What is true of his work is also true of his life: from boyhood, his relationship with the world around him – rockpools, seacaves, scrub and swamp – was as vital as any other connection. Camping in hidden inlets of the south-east, walking in the high rocky desert fringe, diving at Ningaloo Reef, bobbing in the sea between sets, Winton has felt the place seep into him, with its rhythms, its dangers, its strange sustenance, and learned to see landscape as a living process. ‘Island Home’ is the story of how that relationship with the Australian landscape came to be, and how it has determined his ideas, his writing and his life. It is also a passionate exhortation for all of us to feel the ground beneath our feet” — Provided by publisher’s website.
The book is rated 4.00/5 at goodreads.com, from 856 ratings. See 143 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2h5Egln.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2h7iQV5.

A nature book recommendation: No TV for Woodpeckers by Gary Barwin

A critic review (source Toronto Star) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2iAgWwp.
The jury cited its “jubilant and alluring language” — and No TV for Woodpeckers offers the same inventive, exuberant language. But it’s also more experimental and challenging.
Book description from Google Books:
In the pages of Gary Barwin’s latest collection of poetry, No TV for Woodpeckers, the lines between haunting and hilarious, wondrous and weird, beautiful and beastly, are blurred in the most satisfying ways. No stranger to poetic experimentation, Barwin employs a range of techniques from the lyrical to the conceptual in order to explore loss, mortality, family, the self and our relationship to the natural world. Many of these poems reveal a submerged reality full of forgotten, unknown or invisible life forms that surround us?that are us. Within this reality, Barwin explores the connection between bodies, language, culture and the environment. He reveals how we construct both self and reality through these relationships and also considers the human in relation to the concepts of “nature” and “the animal.” As philosophical as it is entertaining?weaving together threads of surrealism, ecopoetics, Dada and more?No TV for Woodpeckers is a complex and multi-layered work that offers an unexpected range of pleasures.
The book is rated 4.83/5 at goodreads.com, from 6 ratings. See 1 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2iAavto.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2h8hnO0.

A nature book recommendation: Farewell to the Horse: The Final Century of Our Relationship by Ulrich Raulff

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2iy7rh1.
Without having known Raulff’s mother, I confidently suppose that she would have loved this book, as any reader interested in horses, history, art, literature or language will.
Book description from Google Books:
‘A beautiful and thoughtful exploration of the role of the horse in creating our world’ James Rebanks ‘Scintillating, exhilarating … you have never read a book like it … a new way of considering history’ Observer The relationship between horses and humans is an ancient, profound and complex one. For millennia horses provided the strength and speed that humans lacked. How we travelled, farmed and fought was dictated by the needs of this extraordinary animal. And then, suddenly, in the 20th century the links were broken and the millions of horses that shared our existence almost vanished, eking out a marginal existence on race-tracks and pony clubs. Farewell to the Horse is an engaging, brilliantly written and moving discussion of what horses once meant to us. Cities, farmland, entire industries were once shaped as much by the needs of horses as humans. The intervention of horses was fundamental in countless historical events. They were sculpted, painted, cherished, admired; they were thrashed, abused and exposed to terrible danger. From the Roman Empire to the Napoleonic Empire every world-conqueror needed to be shown on a horse. Tolstoy once reckoned that he had cumulatively spent some nine years of his life on horseback. Ulrich Raulff’s book, a bestseller in Germany, is a superb monument to the endlessly various creature who has so often shared and shaped our fate.
The book is rated 3.29/5 at goodreads.com, from 7 ratings. See 2 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2h40eFo.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2h7cZyK.

A nature book recommendation: No TV for Woodpeckers by Gary Barwin

A critic review (source Toronto Star) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2iAgWwp.
The jury cited its “jubilant and alluring language” — and No TV for Woodpeckers offers the same inventive, exuberant language. But it’s also more experimental and challenging.
Book description from Google Books:
In the pages of Gary Barwin’s latest collection of poetry, No TV for Woodpeckers, the lines between haunting and hilarious, wondrous and weird, beautiful and beastly, are blurred in the most satisfying ways. No stranger to poetic experimentation, Barwin employs a range of techniques from the lyrical to the conceptual in order to explore loss, mortality, family, the self and our relationship to the natural world. Many of these poems reveal a submerged reality full of forgotten, unknown or invisible life forms that surround us?that are us. Within this reality, Barwin explores the connection between bodies, language, culture and the environment. He reveals how we construct both self and reality through these relationships and also considers the human in relation to the concepts of “nature” and “the animal.” As philosophical as it is entertaining?weaving together threads of surrealism, ecopoetics, Dada and more?No TV for Woodpeckers is a complex and multi-layered work that offers an unexpected range of pleasures.
The book is rated 4.83/5 at goodreads.com, from 6 ratings. See 1 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2iAavto.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2h8hnO0.

A nature book recommendation: A Natural History of the Hedgerow: And Ditches, Dykes and Dry Stone Walls by John Wright

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2ixUgNm.
This illustrated survey is historically detailed, enriched by the author’s deep knowledge of British landscapes and natural history.
Book description from Google Books:
It is difficult to think of a more quintessential symbol of the British countryside than the British Hedgerow, bursting with blackberries, hazelnuts and sloes, and home to oak and ash, field mice and butterflies. But as much as we might dream about foraging for mushrooms or collecting wayside nettles for soup, most of us are unaware of quite how profoundly hedgerows have shaped the history of our landscape and our species. One of Britain’s best known naturalists, John Wright introduces us to the natural and cultural history of hedges (as well as ditches, dykes and dry stone walls) – from the arrival of the first settlers in the British Isles to the modern day, when we have finally begun to recognise the importance of these unique ecosystems. His intimate knowledge of the countryside and its inhabitants brings this guide to life, whether discussing the skills and craft of hedge maintenance or the rich variety of animals who call them home. Informative, practical, entertaining and richly illustrated in colour throughout, A Natural History of the Hedgerow is a book to stuff into your pocket for country walks in every season, or to savour in winter before a roaring fire.
The book is rated 3.70/5 at goodreads.com, from 30 ratings. See 5 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2ixTnEm.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2ixTqjw.

A nature book recommendation: Farewell to the Horse: The Final Century of Our Relationship by Ulrich Raulff

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2iy7rh1.
Without having known Raulff’s mother, I confidently suppose that she would have loved this book, as any reader interested in horses, history, art, literature or language will.
Book description from Google Books:
‘A beautiful and thoughtful exploration of the role of the horse in creating our world’ James Rebanks ‘Scintillating, exhilarating … you have never read a book like it … a new way of considering history’ Observer The relationship between horses and humans is an ancient, profound and complex one. For millennia horses provided the strength and speed that humans lacked. How we travelled, farmed and fought was dictated by the needs of this extraordinary animal. And then, suddenly, in the 20th century the links were broken and the millions of horses that shared our existence almost vanished, eking out a marginal existence on race-tracks and pony clubs. Farewell to the Horse is an engaging, brilliantly written and moving discussion of what horses once meant to us. Cities, farmland, entire industries were once shaped as much by the needs of horses as humans. The intervention of horses was fundamental in countless historical events. They were sculpted, painted, cherished, admired; they were thrashed, abused and exposed to terrible danger. From the Roman Empire to the Napoleonic Empire every world-conqueror needed to be shown on a horse. Tolstoy once reckoned that he had cumulatively spent some nine years of his life on horseback. Ulrich Raulff’s book, a bestseller in Germany, is a superb monument to the endlessly various creature who has so often shared and shaped our fate.
The book is rated 3.29/5 at goodreads.com, from 7 ratings. See 2 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2h40eFo.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2h7cZyK.