Monday, February 29, 2016

New Title

1) Spaans, Arie L., Otte H. Ottema, and Jan Hein J.M. Ribot. Field Guide to the Birds of Suriname. 2016. Brill. Paperback: 633 pages. Price: $55.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Suriname, located on the Atlantic coast of northeastern South America, is a relatively small country compared to most other South American countries. It nevertheless has a rich avifauna. By the end of 2014, 746 species (including 760 subspecies) were known to occur in Suriname. Most of the land area of Suriname is still covered with tropical rainforest and the country should be a must-visit for birdwatchers. Suriname is even mentioned as being the best country to spot certain neotropical species. Surprisingly, few birders visit Suriname. The main reason given is the lack of a handy pocket guide that can easily be carried in a backpack. The Field Guide to the Birds of Suriname (with its 107 color plates) tries to fill this gap. In addition to species accounts, data on topography, climate, geology, geomorphology, biogeography, avifauna composition, conservation, and hotspots for bird watching are given. So, why delay your trip to this beautiful and friendly country any longer. Suriname with its rich avifauna is waiting you!
RECOMMENDATION: This guide does lack range maps, but birders will still find it useful.

Friday, February 26, 2016

New Title

1) Le, Stephen. 100 Million Years of Food: What Our Ancestors Ate and Why It Matters Today. 2016. Picador. Hardbound: 320 pages. Price: $26.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: There are few areas of modern life that are burdened by as much information and advice, often contradictory, as our diet and health: eat a lot of meat, eat no meat; whole-grains are healthy, whole-grains are a disaster; eat everything in moderation; eat only certain foods--and on and on. In 100 Million Years of Food biological anthropologist Stephen Le explains how cuisines of different cultures are a result of centuries of evolution, finely tuned to our biology and surroundings. Today many cultures have strayed from their ancestral diets, relying instead on mass-produced food often made with chemicals that may be contributing to a rise in so-called "Western diseases," such as cancer, heart disease, and obesity.
     Traveling around the world to places as far-flung as Vietnam, Kenya, India, and the US, Stephen Le introduces us to people who are growing, cooking, and eating food using both traditional and modern methods, striving for a sustainable, healthy diet. In clear, compelling arguments based on scientific research, Le contends that our ancestral diets provide the best first line of defense in protecting our health and providing a balanced diet. Fast-food diets, as well as strict regimens like paleo or vegan, in effect highjack our biology and ignore the complex nature of our bodies. In 100 Million Years of Food Le takes us on a guided tour of evolution, demonstrating how our diets are the result of millions of years of history, and how we can return to a sustainable, healthier way of eating.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the Human diet.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

New Title

1) Wilson, Edward O.. Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life. 2016. Liveright. Hardbound: 259 pages. Price: $25.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Half-Earth proposes an achievable plan to save our imperiled biosphere: devote half the surface of the Earth to nature.
     In order to stave off the mass extinction of species, including our own, we must move swiftly to preserve the biodiversity of our planet, says Edward O. Wilson in his most impassioned book to date. Half-Earth argues that the situation facing us is too large to be solved piecemeal and proposes a solution commensurate with the magnitude of the problem: dedicate fully half the surface of the Earth to nature.
     If we are to undertake such an ambitious endeavor, we first must understand just what the biosphere is, why it's essential to our survival, and the manifold threats now facing it. In doing so, Wilson describes how our species, in only a mere blink of geological time, became the architects and rulers of this epoch and outlines the consequences of this that will affect all of life, both ours and the natural world, far into the future.
     Half-Earth provides an enormously moving and naturalistic portrait of just what is being lost when we clip "twigs and eventually whole branches of life's family tree." In elegiac prose, Wilson documents the many ongoing extinctions that are imminent, paying tribute to creatures great and small, not the least of them the two Sumatran rhinos whom he encounters in captivity. Uniquely, Half-Earth considers not only the large animals and star species of plants but also the millions of invertebrate animals and microorganisms that, despite being overlooked, form the foundations of Earth's ecosystems.
     In stinging language, he avers that the biosphere does not belong to us and addresses many fallacious notions such as the idea that ongoing extinctions can be balanced out by the introduction of alien species into new ecosystems or that extinct species might be brought back through cloning. This includes a critique of the "anthropocenists," a fashionable collection of revisionist environmentalists who believe that the human species alone can be saved through engineering and technology.
     Despite the Earth's parlous condition, Wilson is no doomsayer, resigned to fatalism. Defying prevailing conventional wisdom, he suggests that we still have time to put aside half the Earth and identifies actual spots where Earth's biodiversity can still be reclaimed. Suffused with a profound Darwinian understanding of our planet's fragility, Half-Earth reverberates with an urgency like few other books, but it offers an attainable goal that we can strive for on behalf of all life.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoy Wilson's other works, you should enjoy this one.

Friday, February 19, 2016

New Title

1) Whitaker, Robert. The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale Of Love, Murder, And Survival In The Amazon. 2004 (2016). Basic Books. Paperback: 352 pages. Price: $16.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In the early years of the 18th century, a band of French scientists set off on a daring, decade-long expedition to South America in a race to measure the precise shape of the earth. Like Lewis and Clark's exploration of the American West, their incredible mission revealed the mysteries of a little-known continent to a world hungry for discovery. Scaling 16,000 foot mountains in the Peruvian Andes, and braving jaguars, pumas, insects, and vampire bats in the jungle, the scientists barely completed their mission. One was murdered, another perished from fever, and a third-Jean Godin-nearly died of heartbreak. At the expedition's end, Jean and his Peruvian wife, Isabel Gramesón, became stranded at opposite ends of the Amazon, victims of a tangled web of international politics. Isabel's solo journey to reunite with Jean after their calamitous twenty-year separation was so dramatic that it left all of 18th-century Europe spellbound. Her survival-unprecedented in the annals of Amazon exploration-was a testament to human endurance, female resourcefulness, and the power of devotion.Drawing on the original writings of the French mapmakers, as well as his own experience retracing Isabel's journey, acclaimed writer Robert Whitaker weaves a riveting tale rich in adventure, intrigue, and scientific achievement. Never before told, The Mapmaker's Wife is an epic love story that unfolds against the backdrop of "the greatest expedition the world has ever known."
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in South American history.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

New Title

1) Wilkinson, Matt. Restless Creatures: The Story of Life in Ten Movements. 2016. Basic Books. Hardbound: 308 pages. Price: $28.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Most of us never think about how we get from one place to another. For most people, putting one foot in front of the other requires no thought at all. Yet the fact that we and other species are able to do so is one of the great triumphs of evolution. To truly understand how life evolved on Earth, it is crucial to understand movement. Restless Creatures makes the bold new argument that the true story of evolution is the story of locomotion, from the first stirrings of bacteria to the amazing feats of Olympic athletes.
      By retracing the four-billion-year history of locomotion, evolutionary biologist Matt Wilkinson shows how the physical challenges of moving from place to place-when coupled with the implacable logic of natural selection-offer a uniquely powerful means of illuminating the living world. Whales and dolphins look like fish because they have been molded by the constraints of underwater locomotion. The unbending physical needs of flight have brought bats, birds, and pterodactyls to strikingly similar anatomies. Movement explains why we have opposable thumbs, why moving can make us feel good, how fish fins became limbs, and even why-classic fiction notwithstanding-there are no flying monkeys nor animals with wheels. Even plants aren't immune from locomotion's long reach: their seeds, pollen, and very form are all determined by their aptitude to disperse.
      From sprinting cheetah to spinning maple fruit, soaring albatross to burrowing worm, crawling amoeba to running human-all are the way they are because of how they move. There is a famous saying: “nothing in biology makes sense unless in the light of evolution.” As Wilkinson makes clear: little makes sense unless in the light of locomotion. A powerful yet accessible work of evolutionary biology, Restless Creatures is the essential guide for understanding how life on Earth was shaped by the simple need to move from point A to point B.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in evolutionary biology.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

New Title

1) Kells, Val, Luiz A. Rocha, and Larry G. Allen. A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes: From Alaska to California. 2016. Johns Hopkins University Press. Paperback: 368 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: From the Arctic waters of Alaska to the southern tip of California, this fully illustrated guide captures the stunning diversity of fishes along the western coastlines of the United States and Canada. The combined work of renowned marine science illustrator Val Kells and distinguished ichthyologists Luiz A. Rocha and Larry G. Allen, A Field Guide to Coastal Fishes: From Alaska to California is this region’s most current and thorough fish identification guide.
     Whether you are an angler, scuba diver, naturalist, student, or teacher, you will find every fish you’re trying to identify, each shown in lifelike detail. The book’s coverage extends from shallow, brackish waters to depths of about 200 meters.
     Key features include· Over 950 illustrations of adults, juveniles, and color variants · Descriptions of 157 fish families and almost 700 species· Text presented adjacent to the illustrations· Concise details about the biology, range, and distribution of each species      
     Poised to become your go-to reference, this guide will find a welcome spot on your boat, in your backpack, or on your bookshelf.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those with an interest in the marine fishes of the West Coast.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Title

1) Dunne, Pete. Bird Droppings: Writings About Watching Birds & Bird Watchers. 2016. Stackpole Books. Paperback: 111 pages. Price: $16.95 U.S.   

PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Pete Dunne, one of the foremost birding writers in the country, shares 33 funny, poignant, whimsical, and informative tales about birders and birding in his first collection of birding essays in more than ten years. 

RECOMMENDATION: Fans of Dunne's other books should enjoy this one.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New Title

1) Rauzon, Mark J.. Isles of Amnesia: The History, Geography, and Restoration of America's Forgotten Pacific Islands. 2016. University of Hawaii Press. Paperback: 271 pages. Price: $24.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: For over a quarter century, biologist Mark J. Rauzon has worked in the field of island restoration, traveling throughout the American Insular Pacific to eradicate invasive plants and animals introduced by humans. The region spans from Hawai‘i to Samoa to Guam, and their neighbors—small, obscure tropical islands that are hundreds, if not thousands, of nautical miles from each other. These little-known US possessions and territories include various islands and atolls: Jarvis, Howland, Baker, the Northern Marianas, Wake, Palmyra, Johnston, and Rose Atoll, among others. They anchor a vast National Marine Monument program created in 2009, and expanded in 2014, to protect the largest area in the world from exploitation.
     In Isles of Amnesia, Rauzon chronicles the ecological and human history of these islands, enlivened with his first-hand experiences of eradication efforts to restore atoll ecosystems and maximize native biodiversity. Each chapter focuses on an individual island or island group, revealing how each location has its own particular story, secret past, or ecological lesson to be shared. Taken as a whole, the region has played a unique role in American history, with the remoteness of the islands having served the needs of whalers and guano miners in the 1800s and, in later years, that of military secret projects, missile launching, chemical weapon incinerations, and air bases. Rauzon further explores the creation of the National Marine Monuments and what their protection means to a changing ocean, and presents original research about the US military’s Pacific Project and germ warfare testing. Illustrated with over seventy historical photographs and original drawings, this much-needed work tells the fascinating story of America’s forgotten Pacific islands.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in island conservation.

New Title

1) Hardt, Marah J.. Sex in the Sea: Our Intimate Connection with Kinky Crustaceans, Sex-Changing Fish, Romantic Lobsters and Other Salty Erotica of the Deep. 2016. St. Martin's Press. Hardbound: 278 pages. Price: $26.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Forget the Kama Sutra. When it comes to inventive sex acts, just look to the sea. There we find the elaborate mating rituals of armored lobsters; giant right whales engaging in a lively threesome whilst holding their breath; full moon sex parties of groupers and daily mating blitzes by blueheaded wrasse. Deep-sea squid perform inverted 69s, while hermaphrodite sea slugs link up in giant sex loops. From doubly endowed sharks to the maze-like vaginas of some whales, Sex in the Sea is a journey unlike any other to explore the staggering ways life begets life beneath the waves.
     Beyond a deliciously voyeuristic excursion, Sex in the Sea uniquely connects the timeless topic of sex with the timely issue of sustainable oceans. Through overfishing, climate change, and ocean pollution we are disrupting the creative procreation that drives the wild abundance of life in the ocean. With wit and scientific rigor, Hardt introduces us to the researchers and innovators who study the wet and wild sex lives of ocean life and offer solutions that promote rather than prevent, successful sex in the sea. Part science, part erotica, Sex in the Sea discusses how we can shift from a prophylactic to a more propagative force for life in the ocean.
RECOMMENDATION: Just in time for Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 8, 2016

New Title

1) Head, Vernon R.L.. The Rarest Bird in the World: The Search for the Nechisar Nightjar. 2016. Pegasus Books. Hardbound: 243 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: In 1990, a group of Cambridge scientists arrived at the Plains of Nechisar in Ethiopia. On that expedition, they collected more than two dozen specimens, saw more than three hundred species of birds, and a plethora of rare butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles, mammals, and plants. As they were gathering up their findings, a wing of an unidentified bird was packed into a brown paper bag. It was to become the most famous wing in the world. This wing would set the world of science aflutter. Experts were mystified. The wing was entirely unique. It was like nothing they had ever seem before. Could a new species be named based on just one wing? After much discussion, a new species was announced: Nechisar Nightjar, or Caprimulgus solala, which means "only wing." And so birdwatchers like Vernon began to dream. Twenty-two years later, he joins an expedition of four to find this rarest bird in the world. In this gem of nature writing, Vernon captivates and enchants as he recounts the searches by spotlight through the Ethiopian plains, and allows the reader to mediate on nature, exploration, our need for wild places, and the human compulsion to name things. Rarest Bird is a celebration of a certain way of seeing the world, and will bring out the explorer in in everyone who reads it.
RECOMMENDATION: For those who like a good ornithological adventure story.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

New Titles

1) Clement, Peter and Chris Rose. Robins and Chats. 2015. Helm. Hardbound: 688 pages. Price: $90.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Robins and chats are a diverse group of birds comprising both highly colourful and visible species, such as the robin-chats of Africa, as well as some of the most skulking and elusive birds, such as the shortwings of Asia. Many species, like the well-known Nightingale, are renowned songsters, some are even familiar garden birds, but a good number are highly sought-after for their extreme rarity or simply because they are hard to see.
     This authoritative handbook, part of the Helm Identification Guides series, looks in detail at the world's 175 species of robins and chats. This large group passerines was formerly considered to be part of the thrush family (Turdidae), but is now usually treated as a separate family, Muscicapidae, together with the Old World flycatchers. The vast majority of species are Eurasian or African, with only a handful of species straying into the New World or Australasia. The Australian Robins, although superficially similar, have long been regarded as a separate family and are not included in this book. 
     Robins and Chats discusses the identification and habits of these birds on a species-by-species basis, bringing together the very latest research with accurate range maps, more than 600 colour photographs, and 62 superb colour plates that illustrate age and racial plumage differences. This authoritative and sumptuous book will be indispensable for all chat enthusiasts, and will surely remain the standard reference on the subject for many years to come.
RECOMMENDATION: A MUST have for those that collect bird family monographs or have an interest in these species.

2)  Howell, Steve N. G. and Brian L. Sullivan. Offshore Sea Life ID Guide: East Coast. 2015. Princeton University Press. Paperback: 64 pages. Price: $14.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Two-thirds of our planet lies out of sight of land, just offshore beyond the horizon. What wildlife might you see out there? This handy guide, designed for quick use on day trips off the East Coast, helps you put a name to what you find, from whales and dolphins to shearwaters, turtles, and even flying fish. Carefully crafted color plates show species as they typically appear at sea, and expert text highlights identification features. Essential for anyone heading out on a whale-watching or birding trip, this guidebook provides a handy gateway to the wonders of the ocean.
RECOMMENDATION: A well illustrated introduction to the marine life found off the East Coast.
This authoritative handbook, part of the Helm Identification Guides series, looks in detail at the world's 170 species of robins and chats. This large family of small passerines was formerly considered to be part of the thrush family, Turdidae, but is now usually treated as a separate family, Muscicapidae, together with the Old World flycatchers.

Robins and chats are a diverse family comprising both highly colorful and visible species, such as the robin-chats of Africa, as well as some of the most skulking and elusive birds, such as the shortwings of Asia. Many chats, such as the well-known Nightingale, are renowned songsters, and a good number are highly sought-after by world listers for their extreme rarity or simply because they are hard to see.

This book discusses the identification and habits of these birds on a species-by-species basis, bringing together the very latest research, with accurate range maps, more than six hundred stunning color photographs that illustrate age and racial plumage differences, and sixty-four superb color plates by the internationally renowned artist Chris Rose.

This authoritative and sumptuous book will be an essential purchase for all chat enthusiasts, and will become the standard reference on the subject for many years to come. - See more at:

Peter Clement
Peter Clement
Peter Clement