Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Title

1) Allen, Arthur. The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis. 2014. W.W.Norton. Hardbound: 384 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: From a laboratory in wartime Poland comes a fascinating story of anti-Nazi resistance and scientific ingenuity.
     Few diseases are more gruesome than typhus. Transmitted by body lice, it afflicts the dispossessed—refugees, soldiers, and ghettoized peoples—causing hallucinations, terrible headaches, boiling fever, and often death. The disease plagued the German army on the Eastern Front and left the Reich desperate for a vaccine. For this they turned to the brilliant and eccentric Polish zoologist Rudolf Weigl.
     In the 1920s, Weigl had created the first typhus vaccine using a method as bold as it was dangerous for its use of living human subjects. The astonishing success of Weigl’s techniques attracted the attention and admiration of the world—giving him cover during the Nazi’s violent occupation of Lviv. His lab soon flourished as a hotbed of resistance. Weigl hired otherwise doomed mathematicians, writers, doctors, and other thinkers, protecting them from atrocity. The team engaged in a sabotage campaign by sending illegal doses of the vaccine into the Polish ghettos while shipping gallons of the weakened serum to the Wehrmacht.
     Among the scientists saved by Weigl, who was a Christian, was a gifted Jewish immunologist named Ludwik Fleck. Condemned to Buchenwald and pressured to re-create the typhus vaccine under the direction of a sadistic Nazi doctor, Erwin Ding-Schuler, Fleck had to make an awful choice between his scientific ideals or the truth of his conscience. In risking his life to carry out a dramatic subterfuge to vaccinate the camp’s most endangered prisoners, Fleck performed an act of great heroism.
     Drawing on extensive research and interviews with survivors, Arthur Allen tells the harrowing story of two brave scientists—a Christian and a Jew— who put their expertise to the best possible use, at the highest personal danger. 
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the history of science or World War II.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Weekly Birdbooker Report

                                          Photo copyright: Joe Fuhrman

My WEEKLY Birdbooker Report can be found here:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Titles

1) Newman, Doug. 500 Common Bird Calls in Southern Africa. 2013. Struik Nature. Paperback (with CD): 176 pages. Price: $23.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The book gives a brief account for each species, including description of song, associated behavior, similar-sounding species, favored habitat, and a distribution map. The introduction discusses bird vocalizations, differences between true songbirds and non-songbirds and why calls often change with the seasons and time of day.
     The CD gives the song or distinctive call of each species. Have hours of fun delving into the endlessly fascinating language of birds with this concise guide. 
RECOMMENDATION: Birders to the region should find this book useful.

2) Newman, Doug and Gordon King. Southern African Mammals Made Simple. 2013. Struik Nature. Paperback: 104 pages. Price: $18.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Southern African Mammals Made Simple is an exciting new mammal identification guide that uses a novel 3-stage ID system to identify even the most obscure mammals.
     For each of the 115 species, there is a photograph and drawing highlighting the animal’s distinctive features, a description and a distribution map. An easy-to-use and foolproof ID guide, it is ideal for anyone with an interest in southern African mammals.
     Ingenious, easy-to-use and virtually foolproof, it offers step-by-step progress towards sure identification. Written in a concise, structured format, it is ideal for taking on trips to the game reserve, and for novices right through to more experienced naturalists.
     Excellent for use in game parks or just to demystify similar-looking mammal species. 
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the mammals of Southern Africa.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Title

1) Callahan, David (edited by Dominic Mitchell). A History of Birdwatching in 100 Objects. 2014. Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 222 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: This book looks at 100 items that have profoundly shaped how people watched, studied and engaged with the avian world. Each item contains around 500 words on a double-page spread and include an illustration of the object in question. The book includes the objects listed below as well as many more.The range of items is international and cross-cultural. Subjects include:
     An Egyptian 'field guide' [early tomb decorations of birds, identifiable as species]
Ornithologiae libri tres: the first British bird guide [a 1676 publication that attempted to itemise all British birds known at the time]
The Dodo specimen held at the Horniman museum
Systema Naturae by Carl Linnaeus [the first-ever system of scientific names in 1758, and still the international standard today]
The shotgun
The book, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne by Gilbert White [1789]
HMS Beagle [the ship on which Darwin made his ground-breaking discoveries]
Aluminium bird rings [used to record movement and longevity of individuals and species]
along with many more modern innovations including walkie talkies, pagers, radio tags and apps.  
RECOMMENDATION: Birders with an interest in the history of birding will want this book.

Monday, July 21, 2014

New Titles

1) Self, Andrew. The Birds of London. 2014. Helm/Bloomsbury. Hardbound: 432 pages. Price: $86.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The parks, reservoirs, rooftops and gardens of London – here defined as the area within 20 miles of St Paul’s Cathedral – have a surprisingly rich avifauna, including a healthy population of one of Britain’s rarest breeders, the Black Redstart. The region also has a remarkable list of rarities – in recent years Canary Wharf has proven to be a magnet for vagrants, while one of the very few British records of Tengmalm’s Owl hails from Plaistow – an unfortunate bird stoned to death by local urchins in 1877.
     Some species, like the Peregrine Falcon, Black-headed Gull and Ring-necked Parakeet, have seen their fortunes soar over recent decades; others, such as House Sparrow, have suffered a population collapse. While as recently as a century ago, the London area had breeding populations of birds such as Wryneck and Red-backed Shrike, which are now nationally extinct. The status, distribution and history of every species on the regional list is discussed in rich detail in this book, the first comprehensive avifauna for the London area ever published.
     The County Avifauna series provides detailed information on the range and status of bird species at county level. Areas covered in the series so far include Norfolk, Suffolk, Dorset, the Shetland Islands, Leicestershire and Rutland, Essex and Gwent. Each title covers all species on the county list, with a breakdown of rarity records, and there are introductory sections describing the area’s ecology, its ornithological history, as well as a review of the best sites to visit. 
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those with a serious interest in the birds of London.

2)  Warren,  Melvin L. Jr., and Brooks M. Burr (editors). Freshwater Fishes of North America: Volume 1: Petromyzontidae to Catostomidae. 2014. Johns Hopkins University Press. Hardbound: 644 pages. Price: $100.00 U.S.  
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Certain to stand among the reference books of choice for anyone interested in the continent’s aquatic ecosystems, Freshwater Fishes of North America covers the ecology, morphology, reproduction, distribution, behavior, taxonomy, conservation, and fossil record of each North American fish family.
     Volume 1 (of three) covers the following North American families of fishes:Petromyzontidae (Lampreys)Dasyatidae (Whiptail Stingrays)Acipenseridae (Sturgeons)Polyodontidae (Paddlefishes)Lepisosteidae (Gars)Amiidae (Bowfins)Hiodontidae (Mooneyes)Anguillidae (Freshwater Eels)Engraulidae (Anchovies)Cyprinidae (Carps and Minnows)Catostomidae (Suckers)
     The encyclopedic review of each fish family is accompanied by color photographs, maps, and original artwork created by noted fish illustrator Joseph R. Tomelleri. The result is a rich textual and visual experience. Widely anticipated, this monumental reference is the result of decades of analysis and synthesis by leading fish experts from a variety of universities, research laboratories, museums, and aquariums.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a technical interest in the freshwater fishes of North America.

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Title

1) Stallcup, Rich and Jules Evens. Field Guide to Birds of the Northern California Coast. 2014. University of California Press. Hardbound: 294 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The Northern California coast--from Monterey County to the Oregon border--is home to some of the richest avian habitats on the North American continent. Field Guide to Birds of the Northern California Coast provides a comprehensive ecological overview of this extensive and diverse region. It features detailed discussions of the area's most common waterbirds, raptors, and landbirds and highlights the most productive birding sites in each Northern California coastal county.
     Accessibly written and user-friendly, this guide contains nearly 250 species accounts that focus on seasonal rhythms and behavioral characteristics of each species. More than 130 color photographs and hand-drawn sketches depict the birds in context, and maps and occurrence charts indicate when readers might spot each species.
RECOMMENDATION: This guide is a regional supplement to standard field guides.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Title

1) Howell, Steve N.G.. The Amazing World of Flyingfish. 2014. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 45 pages. Price: $12.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: If you travel the open ocean anywhere in the tropics, you are very likely to see flyingfish. These beautifully colored “ocean butterflies” shoot out of the water and sail on majestic, winglike pectoral fins to escape from predators such as dolphins, swordfish, and tuna. Some can travel for more than six hundred feet per flight. Yet despite their prevalence in warm ocean waters and their vital role in the tropical food chain, surprisingly little is known about flyingfish—more than 60 species are said to exist, but nobody is sure of the number. This beautifully illustrated book presents flyingfish as you’ve never seen them before. It features more than 90 stunning color photos by renowned naturalist Steve Howell, as well as a concise and accessible text that explores the natural history of flyingfish, where they can be found, how and why they fly, what colors they are, what they eat and what eats them, and more.                         
     The ideal gift for fish lovers, seasoned travelers, and armchair naturalists alike, this first-of-its-kind book provides a rare and incomparable look at these spectacular marine creatures.
     This book features:
  • Presents flyingfish like you’ve never seen them before
  • Features more than 90 stunning color images
  • Explores the natural history of flyingfish, where to see them, how they fly, and more
  • The ideal gift book for fish lovers, ecotravelers, birders, and armchair naturalists
RECOMMENDATION: The photography is the highlight of this book.