In the years after the Revolutionary War, the fledgling republic of America was viewed by many Europeans as a degenerate backwater, populated by subspecies weak and feeble. Chief among these naysayers was the French Count and world-renowned naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, who wrote that the flora and fauna of America (humans included) were inferior to European specimens.
Thomas Jefferson--author of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. president, and ardent naturalist--spent years countering the French conception of American degeneracy. His Notes on Virginia systematically and scientifically dismantled Buffon's case through a series of tables and equally compelling writing on the nature of his home state. But the book did little to counter the arrogance of the French and hardly satisfied Jefferson's quest to demonstrate that his young nation was every bit the equal of a well-established Europe. Enter the giant moose.
The American moose, which Jefferson claimed was so enormous a European reindeer could walk under it, became the cornerstone of his defense. Convinced that the sight of such a magnificent beast would cause Buffon to revise his claims, Jefferson had the remains of a seven-foot ungulate shipped first class from New Hampshire to Paris. Unfortunately, Buffon died before he could make any revisions to his Histoire Naturelle, but the legend of the moose makes for a fascinating tale about Jefferson's passion to prove that American nature deserved prestige.
In Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose, Lee Alan Dugatkin vividly recreates the origin and evolution of the debates about natural history in America and, in so doing, returns the prize moose to its rightful place in American history.
When the unconventional Durrell family can no longer endure the damp, gray English climate, they do what any sensible family would do: sell their house and relocate to the sunny Greek isle of Corfu. My Family and Other Animals was intended to embrace the natural history of the island but ended up as a delightful account of Durrell's family's experiences, from the many eccentric hangers-on to the ceaseless procession of puppies, toads, scorpions, geckoes, ladybugs, glowworms, octopuses, bats, and butterflies into their home.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
John Muir, a young Scottish immigrant, had not yet become a famed conservationist when he first trekked into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, not long after the Civil War. He was so captivated by what he saw that he decided to devote his life to the glorification and preservation of this magnificent wilderness. My First Summer in the Sierra, whose heart is the diary Muir kept while tending sheep in Yosemite country, enticed thousands of Americans to visit this magical place, and resounds with Muir's regard for the "divine, enduring, unwasteable wealth" of the natural world. A classic of environmental literature, My First Summer in the Sierra continues to inspire readers to seek out such places for themselves and make them their own.
In the summer of 1869, John Muir set out from California's Central Valley with a flock of sheep and trekked into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. His journals describe the summer he spent in what would become Yosemite National Park.
Celebrating the Sierra's lizards and mountain lions, tall trees and waterfalls, fierce thunderstorms and bears, Muir raises an awareness of nature to a spiritual dimension.
John Muir is internationally acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of modern conservation and his vision, passion and integrity continue to inspire readers today - particularly in this, his best-loved book.
This compact volume contains: An easy-to-use field guide for identifying 1,000 of the region's wildflowers, trees, mushrooms, mosses, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, butterflies, mammals, and much more; A complete overview of New England's natural history, covering geology, wildlife habitats, ecology, fossils, rocks and minerals, clouds and weather patterns and night sky; An extensive sampling of the area's best parks, preserves, beaches, forests, islands, and wildlife sanctuaries, with detailed descriptions and visitor information for 50 sites and notes on dozens of others. The guide is packed with visual information -- the 1,500 full-color images include more than 1,300 photographs, 14 maps, and 16 night-sky charts, as well as 150 drawings explaining everything from geological processes to the basic features of different plants and animals. For everyone who lives or spends time in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, or Vermont, there can be no finer guide to the area's natural surroundings than the National Audubon Society Field Guide to New England.