It's one of those books that you get so absorbed in and you learn all of these interesting facts that you want to share with people... for instance (I...moreIt's one of those books that you get so absorbed in and you learn all of these interesting facts that you want to share with people... for instance (I just have to share!) tigers are known for their virility and their strength - and the Sanskrit word for tiger *vyagghra* was Anglicized into "viagra" for the well-known impotency medication. Interesting, right? Well, there's more to learn inside this book!
The author tries to accomplish a lot in this book, and by and large, he succeeds. At the core of the story is the investigation of a unique mauling in the remote forests in coastal Siberia in the mid-1990s. The team that is dispatched to look into the killing is very similar to a forensics team at a crime scene; they read the snow, see how the attack took place, follow the tiger's entrance and exit paths, and begin to formulate ideas based on what they find. The book focuses on this team (Inspection Tiger) and their members, as well as some of the nearby villagers. In doing so, the author's research delves into Soviet and new Russian politics, ideas towards the environment, science, and conservation, the biology and psychology of both the tigers and the humans, the wealth of myths and stories about tigers and other "monsters" throughout human history, the study of predator-prey biospheres, and the economics and black market demand for rare animals by superpowers like China. So, while the isolated incident of this one tiger on this one village is where the story starts, it is much bigger in context and ramifications.
Fascinating read - tied with Henriette Lacks as the best non-fiction of the year for me.
I had always imagined that my girls experience the world so differently than I do - I'd pictured a hyper-reality of smells, colors, sounds - and this...moreI had always imagined that my girls experience the world so differently than I do - I'd pictured a hyper-reality of smells, colors, sounds - and this book confirms that a dog's world is indeed more "sensory" than our own. Not surprisingly, their noses are their primary sensory organ, while humans rely more on their eyes. Smells tell their story, and it appears that there is no smell that dogs find repugnant, in fact, the stinkier something is to humans, the more dogs seem to love it!
Dog behavioral psychology is discussed, but because there is not a lot of research into some aspects, the author substitutes other animals that have been studied, and makes assumptions about how dogs would react in certain situations. This habit of saying "well, birds/reptiles/other mammals did this, so dogs would too..." seemed unreliable to me for a number of reasons (domestication, the bonds between humans and dogs, etc.) but interesting nonetheless.
3.5 stars, rounded up because I love dogs so much :)(less)
A book of essays interspersed with Ms. Goodall's "field notes" on conservation efforts around the globe. Each story centers on an endangered species,...moreA book of essays interspersed with Ms. Goodall's "field notes" on conservation efforts around the globe. Each story centers on an endangered species, usually ones that are on the brink of extinction. With so much depressing news about the state of the Earth, it is was a nice change to hear hopeful stories and good news about conservation biology and the major strides made by both dedicated scientists and amateur naturalists.
There are a lot of stories - and that is the only down side (but it feels odd to complain about good stories of successful programs!) to the book... it is just so many all together. By the time I was half-way through the book, I had a hard time remembering the stories in the beginning. Some extraordinary cases stand out, but because of the sheer volume, this reader was a bit overwhelmed.
Perhaps it is a book best read over a long period of time? One or two essays every few days or weeks. Maybe then, it would have stuck with me more. Thing is, it was a library book, so I read it in the three week time period!(less)