Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of the Birds of America

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9781571313553: Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of the Birds of America

John James Audubon is renowned for his masterpiece of natural history and art, The Birds of America, the first nearly comprehensive survey of the continent’s birdlife. And yet few people understand, and many assume incorrectly, what sort of man he was. How did the illegitimate son of a French sea captain living in Haiti, who lied both about his parentage and his training, rise to become one of the greatest natural historians ever and the greatest name in ornithology? In Under a Wild Sky this Pulitzer Prize finalist, William Souder reveals that Audubon did not only compose the most famous depictions of birds the world has ever seen, he also composed a brilliant mythology of self. In this dazzling work of biography, Souder charts the life of a driven man who, despite all odds, became the historical figure we know today.

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About the Author:

William Souder is the author of three books, including Under a Wild Sky and On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson. He lives in Grant, MN.

From Publishers Weekly:

Renowned for his knowledge of the American wilderness, John James Audubon (1785–1851) was equally adept at the quintessential American activity of self-invention. Arriving in New York City in 1803, the 18-year-old native of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) and illegitimate son of a French sea captain passed himself off as the Louisiana-born scion of a French admiral and claimed to have studied painting with the European master Jacques-Louis David. Audubon (even the name was false) came to the United States to manage a small estate his father co-owned near Philadelphia. Unsuccessful, he eventually tried his hand as a shopkeeper and a mill owner, but failed there, too. His passion for hunting—and for making life-size, realistically posed paintings of the animals he shot—led to the creation of his magnum opus, Birds of America, now one of the most admired works of American art. But this monumental venture was fraught with difficulties that sometimes brought the artist near the brink of despair. Audubon's work was initially scorned in the U.S.; he had to travel through Britain and France to arouse enough interest to fund the project. Even after its completion and its enthusiastic reception in Europe and the U.S., the work left the naturalist with only a modest income for a lifetime of effort. Souder (A Plague of Frogs) presents Audubon as a complex individual: a loving but distracted husband; a driven artist often plagued by doubts; a scrupulous observer of nature who thought nothing of fabricating some of his written material for dramatic effect. Sympathetic yet balanced, this account shows how much Audubon was shaped by the deep paradoxes of the time and place in which he lived. B&w illus. not seen by PW.
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Book Description Milkweed Editions, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. John James Audubon is renowned for his masterpiece of natural history and art, The Birds of America, the first nearly comprehensive survey of the continent s birdlife. And yet few people understand, and many assume incorrectly, what sort of man he was. How did the illegitimate son of a French sea captain living in Haiti, who lied both about his parentage and his training, rise to become one of the greatest natural historians ever and the greatest name in ornithology? In Under a Wild Sky this Pulitzer Prize finalist, William Souder reveals that Audubon did not only compose the most famous depictions of birds the world has ever seen, he also composed a brilliant mythology of self. In this dazzling work of biography, Souder charts the life of a driven man who, despite all odds, became the historical figure we know today. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781571313553

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Book Description Milkweed Editions, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. John James Audubon is renowned for his masterpiece of natural history and art, The Birds of America, the first nearly comprehensive survey of the continent s birdlife. And yet few people understand, and many assume incorrectly, what sort of man he was. How did the illegitimate son of a French sea captain living in Haiti, who lied both about his parentage and his training, rise to become one of the greatest natural historians ever and the greatest name in ornithology? In Under a Wild Sky this Pulitzer Prize finalist, William Souder reveals that Audubon did not only compose the most famous depictions of birds the world has ever seen, he also composed a brilliant mythology of self. In this dazzling work of biography, Souder charts the life of a driven man who, despite all odds, became the historical figure we know today. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781571313553

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