Fred Bodsworth Last of the Curlews

ISBN 13: 9781887178259

Last of the Curlews

4.12 avg rating
( 184 ratings by Goodreads )
9781887178259: Last of the Curlews
View all copies of this ISBN edition:

Driven by instinct, the graceful Eskimo curlew flies its nine-thousand-mile route from the Arctic Circle to the tip of South America and back again. Bodsworth conveys the mechanics of this single bird's remarkable flight and its instinctive search for others of its kind. The lone survivor comes to stand for the entirety of a lost species, and indeed for all in nature that is endangered.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.


Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin found this slim 1955 novel on a shelf in the house of friends, and, struck with the "plain, succinct evocation and beauty" of Fred Bodsworth's writing, suggested its reissue to a publisher. This is a quick, elegant, devastating read. The Eskimo curlew was a species of shorebird that migrated (and perhaps, in extremely small numbers, still migrates) south from arctic Canada every fall, in a flight that took it eastward across Canada, and then, after feeding, south over the Atlantic to South America--this latter journey nearly 2,500 miles of nonstop flight. The curlew was almost unique among shorebirds for its ability to make this grueling passage.

Bodsworth, a respected ornithologist, makes us care about his fictional bird protagonist--a lone curlew in search of a mate--while still cautiously riding the line between description and anthropomorphism. Of his curlew preparing for a mate, he writes: "He waited within the borders of his territory, flying in tightening circles and calling excitedly as the other bird came nearer. The female was coming. The three empty summers that the male had waited vainly and alone on his breeding territory were a vague, tormenting memory, now almost lost in a brain so keenly keyed to instinctive responses that there was little capacity for conscious thought or memory."

The demise of this species at the hands of hunters and hungry consumers was so rapid and thorough that the "millions that darkened the sky" in Newfoundland in the 1870s during their annual migration were reduced to only a few lone fliers by the 1890s. An afterword by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann and line drawings by Abigail Rorer add context to this remarkable book. --Maria Dolan

From the Inside Flap:

The Eskimo curlew, which once made its migration from Patagonia to the Arctic in flocks so dense that they darkened the sky, was brought to the verge of extinction by the wanton slaughter of game-hunters.

Following the doomed search of a solitary curlew for a female of its kind, Fred Bodsworth's novel is a haunting indictment of man's destruction of the natural world.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Buy New View Book
List Price: US$ 14.95
US$ 38.59

Convert Currency

Shipping: US$ 1.99
Within U.S.A.

Destination, Rates & Speeds

Add to Basket

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace


Bodsworth, Fred
Published by Counterpoint (1998)
ISBN 10: 1887178252 ISBN 13: 9781887178259
New Paperback Quantity Available: 2
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)

Book Description Counterpoint, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P111887178252

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 38.59
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 1.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds