Witness: endangered species of North America
Startlingly beautiful in its content and powerfully eloquent in its message, Witness captures 100 species of North American animals and plants on the brink of extinction in a series of stunning color and duotone portraits. By photographing each imperiled creature against a stark black or white backdrop, photographers Susan Middleton and David Liittschwager visually remove the habitat that would ensure its survival and bring the plight of the individual species -- whether a majestic Florida panther or a delicate Tennessee purple coneflower -- closer to home. A bibliography and an index, a resource giude to additional information sources, an eloquent introduction by E. O. Wilson, and an essay on the Endangered Species Act complete this formidable volume, making it not only an elegant and moving documentary, but a valuable tool in the fight for the preservation of diminishing habitats and the species that depend on them.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
My daughter Gavriella suggested this poetic novella of life in Vermont in 1924. Esther, a Jewish girl age 6, and Leanora, a "negro" girl, age 12, both from New York, confront prejudice and violence directed at them and their families as the Ku Klux Klan comes to a rural Vermont town. Set against an historically realistic background of prohibition era small time rum running, the Leopold and Loeb murder in faraway Chicago, the election of Calvin Coolidge, and the rise of the Klan in the 1920s, the poems that tell this story are remarkable for their attention to historical context. (The Klan in the 1920s wasn't just a southern phenomenon - its xenophobic racist nativism was widespread, including Vermont, and, as the book notes in passing, Oregon.) The principal characters are helpfully laid out on the first page with pictures (photographs selected by the author to represent her characters) and descriptions that can be referred to as we read the story, solving what for me is always a pressing difficulty in any work of fiction - how to remember who is who? The story itself is told through a series of interwoven page-long poems in the voices of different characters in the town. The feel of Vermont small town life is vivid. There are some unambiguously evil characters, and some undeniably good eggs, but the author also manages to portray people who exist in the nether region between good and evil, who might do the right thing for terrible reasons, or who may do the wrong thing and pay no price. Hesse manages to capture ethical murkiness as well as moments of stark moral clarity. The story is wrapped up with a picante twist that is just right, but which shall not be revealed here. I have always loved the idea of epistolary novels, because of the time they give to each character to develop his or her thoughts, and the way in which they also inject multiple (albeit fictional) authorial voices into the telling of a story. In some ways the brevity of Hesse's poems even improves on the epistolary form (which I associate exclusively with letters and e-mails, but have never seen done with poems). Here, we have opportunity to watch the author summon worlds into existence through a very few well chosen words. In quick sketches the author captures whole personalities and a sense of place and history for each character. She then allows each of them to describe his or her shared reality from his or her own perspective, while moving the plot forward. It's a marvelous effect and a literary achievement. The plot of this book could be an outline for a much longer story, but it didn't need to be longer to convey its truth. Brevity is part of its beauty. Needless to say, to receive such a fine reading recommendation from my 12 year old daughter only enhanced the pleasure I took in this young adult book. We had a very interesting discussion about how the author used language to portray the age of the 6 year old Esther. I think any adult, particularly if he or she is interested in the craft of writing and the sketching of characters through voice, would find this book to be heartfelt and fascinating. And would every author, from this day forth, learn from Karen Hesse and please provide an illustrated list of characters at the beginning of every book? I would be forever grateful.
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
It’s always disappointing when you read one book by an author and absolutely love it and then you read another by them and don’t like it. That is pretty much what happened here. I had just read Out of the Dust the night before and was expecting another great book but instead was very disappointed with what I found. This is a work of historical fiction about a small town in 1924 and how it affects them when the Ku Klux Klan moves into town. Told in five “acts”, the story unfolds before us through the eyes of eleven different characters, each passage told from a different point-of-view. The cast of characters was just too large and hard to keep track of. There was a cast list in the front of the book with pictures of each character, which was nice but I got sick of flipping back and forth between pages every time I couldn’t remember who someone was. Needless to say this really hindered me from connecting with any of them. Another thing I didn’t like about switching between such a large number of characters was that their ages ranged from six to sixty-six so one minute your in the head of a six year old with her innocent thoughts and the next minute your in the head of an adult who’s plotting to poison someone. I apologize for the really negative review but this book just wasn’t for me. I am still planning to read more of Hesse’s work in hopes they will be more like my first experience with her writing, which was the polar opposite of this one.
Foreword SUSAN MIDDLETON
Introduction EDWARD 0 WILSON
Species Portraits SUSAN MIDDLETON and DAVID L11TTS C H W A G E
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