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With gripping narrative power, The Condor's Shadow traces the ways in which human greed and ignorance have wreaked havoc on our ecological landscape.
The heir apparent to Peter Matthiessen's 1959 classic Wildlife in America, The Condor's Shadow is a brilliant and compulsively readable study of the state of North American wildlife and what is being done to reverse the damage humans have caused. With equal respect for the smallest feather-mite and the fiercest grizzly, the frailest flower and the stateliest redwood, David S. Wilcove illustrates--in jargon-free, often witty prose--nature's delicate system of checks and balances, examining the factors that determine a species' vulnerability and the consequences of losing even the tiniest part of any ecosystem. An examination of both the heart-wrenching failures and stunning successes of our conservation efforts, The Condor's Shadow chronicles the destruction and resilience of our American wilderness and offers an insightful, eloquent overview that will appeal to avid conservationists and recreational nature-lovers alike.
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"More than 85 percent of the virgin forests of the United States have been logged, 90 percent of the tallgrass prairies have been plowed or paved, and 98 percent of the rivers and streams have been dammed, diverted, or developed." In the face of this large-scale reshaping of the land, it is small wonder, notes Environmental Defense Fund ecologist David Wilcove, that so many plant, insect, and animal species should be endangered, mostly as a result of habitat loss. Writing in the tradition of Peter Matthiessen, whose book Wildlife in America he cites as an important influence, Wilcove examines the history of extinctions in North America, a history that continues into the present. Wilcove believes that as much as 16 percent of all U.S. flora and fauna are in imminent danger--at least 16,000 species. Obstacles to effective conservation abound, Wilcove writes, among them "a lack of information, a tendency to ignore a problem until it becomes a crisis, a failure to commit adequate resources, and a failure to reward landowners who aid in the restoration of imperiled wildlife." Yet he sees hope in certain conservation efforts, especially those that look beyond individual species to try to preserve whole habitats. This book adds much useful information to the current discussion about the use of public lands and the curtailment of urban and suburban growth, and its conclusions are timely--even urgent. --Gregory McNameeFrom the Back Cover:
"Well conceived and very well written-- It should serve to clarify hard decisions that our nation must face in regard to habitat preservation for the future."--Peter Matthiessen
"This engaging report, sprinkled with sensible, targeted solutions to specific problems, is essential reading for concerned nature lovers, as well as a basic resource for environmentalists and policy makers."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Every bit as wise as it is readable. For a general reader, it is an unalloyed delight; for a conservationist, it is nothing less than essential."--T. H. Watkins
"Wilcove's fine contribution gives important support to the argument for a new and enlightened American ethic." --E.O. Wilson
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