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Wildlife in America

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  89 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
This classic history of the rare, threatened, and extinct animals of North America is a dramatic chronicle of man's role in the disappearance of great and small species of our land. "Should be the number one source volume for everyone who embraces the philosophy of conservation".--Roger Tory Peterson. Illustrations throughout.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 26th 1978 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1959)
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Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A list of wildlife in America that you will never get a chance to see or interact with: the exterminated, the extirpated. The book is written in historical novel form with solid scientific, historical, and personal experiences interspersed with line drawings. Absolutely fascinating, heart wrenching, educational. Must not miss this one.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
281 pages

An informative, dramatic history of
American wildlife as only Peter
Matthiessen can immerse you in.
Michael Holm
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a history of the elimination of abundant wildlife on the NA continent by the European invasion. There are quite a few species that are now extinct due to habitat modification, chemicals, importation of competitors and depredation by man and his domestics.

Matthiessen begins with a description of North American wildlife before Christopher Columbus by using descriptions of early settlers and pioneers. This especially interested me since I have tried to imagine the US before Europeans change
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A rare book, predating Rachel Carson's Silent Spring by a couple of years. While Carson talks about the detrimental effect of chemicals such as DDT on environment, Matthiessen chronicles the story of this land called America--the story of what happened to the land after the Europeans came over. How many Americans know of the existence of an American parrot? That the bison or the buffalo frequented the east coast? Or that the forests were so thick that a squirrel could theoretically go from the A ...more
Bill O'driscoll
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
This felt like something of a lost classic -- a survey of endangered wildlife from the 1950s. It predates Silent Spring by several years, and shows that the "environmental movement" had some post-war roots that didn't start with Rachel Carson's classic. Of course, its concerns are different -- more about overhunting and habitat destruction, with little to no mention of the toxins that concerned Carson. But Matthiesen's writing is gorgeous and incisive, and set a standard for naturalist writing t ...more
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
An incredible book. Matthiessen's writing is so insightful and honest. This should be a must-read for all students of ecology or anyone interested in wildlife, really. I look forward to coming back to this one.
David Ward
Wildlife in America by Peter Matthiessen (Penguin Books 1978) (591.97). This is a history of species lost in North America at the hands of man. The roll is astonishing. This catalogs the threatened, endangered, and extinct. My rating: 7.5/10, finished 2009.
Sheila Myers
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wildlife
A wonderful book about how wolves live.
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book by an outstanding author. The book is often overlooked by people who love and study the wilderness. The important details in the book are also often overlooked.
Larry Schwartz
1959 edition. Bought used.
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Had pivotal effect on my life. Couldn't recommend it more highly (good paired with A Sand County Almanac).
Jul 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Very informative.
Wildlife in America 6/24/2008 Peter Matthiessen
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Peter Matthiessen is the author of more than thirty books and the only writer to win the National Book Award for both non-fiction (The Snow Leopard, in two categories, in 1979 and 1980) and fiction (Shadow Country, in 2008). A co-founder of The Paris Review and a world-renowned naturalist, explorer and activist, he died in April 2014.
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“The concept of conservation is a far truer sign of civilization than that spoilation of a continent which we once confused with progress.” 28 likes
“There's an elegiac quality in watching [American wilderness] go, because it's our own myth, the American frontier, that's deteriorating before our eyes. I feel a deep sorrow that my kids will never get to see what I've seen, and their kids will see nothing; there's a deep sadness whenever I look at nature now.” 12 likes
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