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Michel Braudeau's The Flight of the Monarch and Other Reflections magically spins simple facts of nature into unforgettable tales as it suggests what a miracle it is that certain species ever manage to reproduce at all. Consisting of six poetic and concise essays--five of which originally appeared in Le Monde--this elegantly written book demystifies the natural world by clearly, accurately, and often humorously, conveying encyclopedic knowledge in small, unforgettable, gem-like chapters. Braudeau depicts the arduous, multi-generational migration of the Monarch butterfly; the in-flight snooze of the soaring Martinet; the road-block that saved an entire population of toads; the simultaneous birth of 8,000 wildebeests; the stupid leatherback turtle that nonetheless holds the secret of eternal youth; and, finally, answers the question of why we don't see that many flea-circuses anymore. He does so with obvious enjoyment, interweaving the facts of these animals' lives with the economic and political realities of our world in a way that will make conservationists approve and applaud. This book will appeal to a wide audience, for its masterly handling of language and content truly offers something for everyone."
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Braudeau is a novelist and reporter.From Publishers Weekly:
This slim collection of anecdotal essays focuses on six species that migrate-whether across vast continents or just beyond a pond-to reproduce or feed, and in the process expose themselves to remarkable dangers. Braudeau first follows the monarch butterfly on its multigenerational, roundtrip flight from southern Canada to the mountain forests in Mexico, "the only place in the world where one can distinctly hear the noise made by the wings" of the millions of orange-and-black insects that gather there. He then investigates how toads, gnus, swifts, leatherback turtles and fleas thrive despite a long list of manmade obstacles and biological disadvantages. "A majestic beauty, the leatherback turtle," for example, "is not exactly brilliant." Yet despite its many predators at land or sea, its dim-witted tendency to lay eggs in rising tides or smother them by nesting an overabundant number, the species keeps on kicking. Meanwhile, stubborn toads annually play "Frogger" with oncoming traffic to reach their favorite seasonal pools. Braudeau illuminates these feats with simple data and amusing observations in the tradition of nature writers such as Diane Ackerman and Bernd Heinrich. Hawkes remains faithful to the author's clear, idiomatic style in this skillful translation from the French-the only one to date among Braudeau’s 13 previous books. While too many nature books lose focus in trying to achieve heft, Braudeau shows that just a few words can speak volumes about nature’s wonder.
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