Tinkering with Eden: A Natural History of Exotics in America

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9780393048605: Tinkering with Eden: A Natural History of Exotics in America

A natural history of non-native species of animals currently living and thriving in America focuses on the various experiments, most well-intentioned, that introduced many foreign life forms to the continent.

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Review:

Helped along their way by container ships and aircraft, by avid pet lovers and gardeners, by well-meaning biologists and profit-minded agriculturalists alike, exotic plant and animal species are an increasingly common feature of the North American landscape. Their presence, Kim Todd shows, is nothing new--nonnative animals and plants came with the first Europeans, and on their return voyages, they introduced American species to other parts of the world--but it is growing at an alarming rate, to the detriment of natives that are being crowded out of already contested habitats. "Subtraction," Todd writes, "is the underlying theme": as those species disappear, perhaps never to return, the American landscape takes on a depressing sameness from coast to coast, with less and less variety.

Echoing Peter Matthiessen's classic study Wildlife in America, Todd documents the disappearance of creatures such as the native passenger pigeon and the flourishing of the introduced rock dove; the passing of pure strains of trout with the arrival of hybridized Scottish and German varieties; the remaking of whole landscapes with the introduction of kudzu, Russian thistle, and even mosquitoes. Her well-documented account is grave, sometimes even alarming. But, Todd urges, the situation is not hopeless. No matter how besieged it may be, "the natural world will continue to rattle, buck, elude, and astonish us, serving up results far beyond the imagination." --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

A former newspaper reporter, Kim Todd holds a B.A. from Yale University and a M.F.A. from the University of Montana. She lives in Missoula, Montana.

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Todd, Kim
Published by W. W. Norton & Company (2001)
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