Early American Naturalists: Exploring the American West, 1804-1900

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9781589791831: Early American Naturalists: Exploring the American West, 1804-1900
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Beginning with the trailblazing expedition of Lewis and Clark, Early American Naturalists tells the stories of men and women of the 1800s who crossed the Mississippi River and encountered the new life of the western New World. Explorers profiled include John James Audubon, Martha Maxwell, and John Muir.

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About the Author:

John Moring (1946-2002) was professor of zoology at the University of Maine and author of Men with Sand: Great Explorers of the American West.

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Moring (Men with Sand), a professor of zoology at the University of Maine, examines the lives of several explorers who documented American flora and fauna during the 19th century. He begins with the work of Lewis and Clark, who were charged not only with opening up new territories, but also collecting samples and drawings of the unfamiliar North American wildlife. Moring details the efforts of later naturalists, including Englishman Thomas Nutall (who studied the lives of birds and was so badly bitten by mosquitoes during his explorations of the Delaware coast that people assumed he had smallpox); Charles Wilkes, a navy officer who explored the Pacific coast; and the legendary painter of birds, John Audubon. Moring discusses naturalists' increasing reliance on photography (rather than drawings), the development of natural history museums (before which wildlife specimens were kept in laboratories and universities for scientific study only) and the evolution of naturalism itself over the course of the century. Instead of scrutinizing discreet specimens, the "New Naturalists," exemplified by conservationist John Muir, became interested in ecology as a living whole. "Instead of merely collecting a plant or animal for later study, naturalists of the late nineteenth century would sit for hours watching a bird construct a nest." These biographical sketches make for an absorbing and accessible if somewhat narrowly focused survey that should please those with a bent for natural history.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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9780815412366: Early American Naturalists: Exploring the American West, 1804-1900

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ISBN 10:  0815412363 ISBN 13:  9780815412366
Publisher: Cooper Square Press, 2002
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