Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction

Science journalist and editor Nijhuis tells a wide-ranging tale in this history of a movement. She effectively tells how what began as the passion of collectors or hunters ultimately became a closer examination of wildlife and habitats by enthusiasts, and how what was once the work of individuals became the motivation of societies. Inspired to fight for endangered species and decrease the risk of extinction, formal organizations such as the National Audubon Society and World Wildlife Fund emerged, and organizational action became law over the course of time. The author covers a large group of contributors, including the well-known work of Rachel Carson and E. O. Wilson while also shedding insight on the lesser-known contributions of Michael Soulé, Stewart Udall, and Rosalie Edge. Nijhuis also details how a narrow branch of biology became the rapidly growing field of biodiversity, and how first-world activism was broadened with the success of community-based conservation projects. In doing so, she engagingly relates efforts to conserve individual species, such as the whooping crane and the American bison.
VERDICT Nijhuis does an excellent job narrating the achievements and challenges of individuals, groups, and governments in understanding biological ecosystems and the human impact on them past, present, and future.
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