The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes

Matthiessen, Peter

Published by North Point Press
ISBN 10: 0865476578 / ISBN 13: 9780865476578
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2003 - Paperback - Used - Good - - - Shows some shelf-wear. May contain old price stickers or their residue, inscriptions or dedications from previous owners in first few pages and remainder marks. -. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: “You don’t have to be a ‘craniac’ . . . to appreciate [this book] . . . All you really need is a passion for prose as good as it gets.” —Chicago Tribune

In legend, cranes often figure as harbingers of heaven and omens of longevity and good fortune. And in nature, they are an “umbrella species” whose well-being assures that of the ecosystem at large. The Birds of Heaven chronicles Peter Matthiessen’s many journeys on five continents in search of the fifteen species of cranes. His telling captures the dilemmas of a planet in ecological crisis, and the deep loss to humankind if these beautiful and imposing creatures are allowed to disappear.

Review: Acclaimed writer Peter Matthiessen, a self-professed "craniac," has been observing and studying all kinds of birds most of his life, but his pursuit of cranes is closer to a spiritual quest than a naturalist's exercise. These majestic, mythic, and notoriously shy birds, capable of soaring at heights of 20,000 feet, are often fond of remote and rugged places, so just locating the birds can be difficult enough, determining an accurate number often impossible. Some locales, such as the breeding grounds on the Platte River in Nebraska, boast flocks half a million strong--"by far the greatest crane assemblies on earth"; other areas support only a precious few. Matthiessen's search for 15 different species of cranes has taken him to hidden corners of Siberia, China, Mongolia, Tibet, Sudan, and Australia (where Atherton cranes were not even discovered until 1961). Despite his many years of adventure and wide travels, each crane sighting is still a thrill for him, and his curiosity and contagious enthusiasm bring the book alive. But The Birds of Heaven also serves as an ecological warning: "Perhaps more than any other living creatures, they evoke the retreating wilderness, the vanishing horizons of clean water, earth, and air upon which their species--and ours, too, though we learn it very late--must ultimately depend for survival." --Shawn Carkonen

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Title: The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes
Publisher: North Point Press
Book Condition: Good

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