The Eye of the Sandpiper: Stories from the Living World

Cornell University Press
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In The Eye of the Sandpiper, Brandon Keim pairs cutting-edge science with a deep love of nature, conveying his insights in prose that is both accessible and beautiful. In an elegant, thoughtful tour of nature in the twenty-first century, Keim continues in the tradition of Lewis Thomas, Stephen Jay Gould, and David Quammen, reporting from the frontiers of science while celebrating the natural world’s wonders and posing new questions about our relationship to the rest of life on Earth.

The stories in The Eye of the Sandpiper are arranged in four thematic sections. Each addresses nature through a different lens. The first is evolutionary and ecological dynamics, from how patterns form on butterfly wings to the ecological importance of oft-reviled lampreys. The second section explores the inner lives of animals, which science has only recently embraced: empathy in rats, emotions in honeybees, spirituality in chimpanzees. The third section contains stories of people acting on insights both ecological and ethological: nourishing blighted rivers, but also caring for injured pigeons at a hospital for wild birds and demanding legal rights for primates. The fourth section unites ecology and ethology in discussions of ethics: how we should think about and behave toward nature, and the place of wildness in a world in which space for wilderness is shrinking.

By appreciating the nonhuman world more fully, Keim writes, "I hope people will also act in ways that nourish rather than impoverish its life—which is, ultimately, the problem that needs to be solved at this Anthropocene moment, with a sixth mass extinction looming, once-common animals becoming rare, and Earth straining to support 7.5 billion people. The solution will come from a love of nature rather than chastisement or lamentation."

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About the author

Brandon Keim is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in publications including The Atlantic, WIRED, National Geographic News, Aeon, Nautilus, Scientific American Mind, The Guardian, Audubon Magazine, Grist, Mother Jones, Conservation, NOVA, and Anthropocene.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cornell University Press
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Published on
Jun 20, 2017
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Pages
266
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ISBN
9781501712647
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Animals / General
Nature / Animals / Wildlife
Nature / Essays
Science / Life Sciences / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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To escape the city, to live close to nature in the beauty and quiet of the wilderness, to try to find within oneself a pioneer resourcefulness of spirit, mind, and hand—it is an almost universal dream. Helen Hoover and her husband made it come true for themselves, and this is the richly told story of how they did it.
 
As she demonstrated in The Gift of the Deer—a book greatly loved and praised—Mrs. Hoover has the gift of sharing with her readers her own profound feeling for the wilderness she has made her home and for the wild animals whom she makes her friends, without destroying the integrity of their wild lives.
 
But she was not always so at ease with nature. And she tells here how she and her husband, leaving behind everything that was familiar to them, bridged the infinite distance in life-style from Chicago, where they had lived, to a cabin home on the fringe of Minnesota’s northernmost wilderness.
 
Neither of them had so much as a Cub Scout’s experience of the woods, and their first year was punctuated with near-disasters. They quickly discovered that a long-time desire for the simple Thoreauvian life was not enough. The obstinance of inanimate objects—the crumbling stone foundation, the leaky roof, the unruly double-bitted ax that must be mastered when you depend on a woodburning stove at thirty below—was new to them. The changing seasons astonished the not only with surprising loveliness but with unexpected crises of survival. But they managed, despite their trials, to rebuild their primitive cabin. And, as they worked and learned, they built for themselves, little by little, a rewarding relationship not only with the sparsely settled community but with a marvelous succession of their closest neighbors: wild weasels and jays, squirrels and shy fishers, even bears in the basement.
 
The reader experiences it all, the hardships and joys, the gradual feeling of becoming connected to earth and elements, of belonging. The is the special delight of Helen Hoover’s warm, evocative, and sometimes extremely funny account of the way in which two city people made for themselves A Place in the Woods.
Nature is full of fascinating stories, stories that attract our attention at a young age and keep us amazed throughout our entire lives. The need to understand nature draws us back to its simple beauty again and again, yet underneath this simplicity lies a complex web of associations and patterns. The Nature Handbook does what no other field guide does: explores and explains nature through these connecting patterns, revealing them to the many different types of nature lovers. All naturalists-- from birders to gardeners, hikers to environmentalists, wildflower enthusiasts to butterfliers-- will appreciate the different approach of the Handbook, even those whose interest in the natural world is just beginning to develop. Naturalists who are already well versed in one group of organisms--birders, for example--will find new explanations and patterns for their favorite group, as well as new patterns all around them that they had previously overlooked. Observations in the Handbook are arranged in the three main sections of plants, animals, and habitats. These sections are then connected through discussions of the relationship of size and shape, adaptations, distribution patterns, behavior, and diversity of life. Since the emphasis is on patterns rather than individual species, each chapter has cross-references to related topics. For example, tree-related topics such as leaf shape, treelines, and fall colors, are all discussed in different chapters even though they are related. Leaf shape is associated with trees as organisms, and therefore is in Chapter 2: Trees; treelines are most associated with mountains, so their description is in Chapter 8: Mountains; fall colors apply more broadly to forests than to individual trees, and they are discussed in Chapter 9,Forests. Approximately 500 color photographs help make the more than 200 patterns apparent and recognizable for readers, and each pattern is accompanied by a detailed description and a brief list of sources. The book is designed to invite browsing, and readers will gain a rich ecological perspective and insight. Curiosity about the world around us is a basis for human learning; The Nature Handbook serves to aid all nature lovers in their quest for understanding the many stories that our living world provides.
New York Times Bestseller

A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

From the host of the Travel Channel’s “The Wild Within.”

A hunt for the American buffalo—an adventurous, fascinating examination of an animal that has haunted the American imagination.
 
In 2005, Steven Rinella won a lottery permit to hunt for a wild buffalo, or American bison, in the Alaskan wilderness. Despite the odds—there’s only a 2 percent chance of drawing the permit, and fewer than 20 percent of those hunters are successful—Rinella managed to kill a buffalo on a snow-covered mountainside and then raft the meat back to civilization while being trailed by grizzly bears and suffering from hypothermia. Throughout these adventures, Rinella found himself contemplating his own place among the 14,000 years’ worth of buffalo hunters in North America, as well as the buffalo’s place in the American experience. At the time of the Revolutionary War, North America was home to approximately 40 million buffalo, the largest herd of big mammals on the planet, but by the mid-1890s only a few hundred remained. Now that the buffalo is on the verge of a dramatic ecological recovery across the West, Americans are faced with the challenge of how, and if, we can dare to share our land with a beast that is the embodiment of the American wilderness.

American Buffalo is a narrative tale of Rinella’s hunt. But beyond that, it is the story of the many ways in which the buffalo has shaped our national identity. Rinella takes us across the continent in search of the buffalo’s past, present, and future: to the Bering Land Bridge, where scientists search for buffalo bones amid artifacts of the New World’s earliest human inhabitants; to buffalo jumps where Native Americans once ran buffalo over cliffs by the thousands; to the Detroit Carbon works, a “bone charcoal” plant that made fortunes in the late 1800s by turning millions of tons of buffalo bones into bone meal, black dye, and fine china; and even to an abattoir turned fashion mecca in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, where a depressed buffalo named Black Diamond met his fate after serving as the model for the American nickel.

 Rinella’s erudition and exuberance, combined with his gift for storytelling, make him the perfect guide for a book that combines outdoor adventure with a quirky blend of facts and observations about history, biology, and the natural world. Both a captivating narrative and a book of environmental and historical significance, American Buffalo tells us as much about ourselves as Americans as it does about the creature who perhaps best of all embodies the American ethos.
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