SCIENCES

John James Audubon: The Nature of the American Woodsman

Univ. of Pennsylvania. Mar. 2017. 360p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780812248944. $34.95. SCI
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With this approachable title on John James Audubon (1785–1851), who dedicated himself to depicting, in paint and print, every bird that flew over and within the United States, Nobles (history, Georgia Inst. of Technology) goes beyond the standard biography. This title focuses on the most meaningful moments of the man's life. Although Audubon was not formally trained in art or science, he toiled for years to become a prolific and well-respected bird artist—the nation's first celebrity scientist. He left behind a remarkable visual record in his famous collection of avian art The Birds of America, which contains 435 plates of bird images that were bound together in four large, heavy volumes and commands a high price in the auction market owing to its rarity. Nobles also addresses Audubon's writing, noting that he filled thousands of pages as a prodigious journal keeper. Readers will appreciate this glimpse into the naturalist's noted work and legacy.
VERDICT For general audiences interested in ornithology. Those already somewhat familiar with Audubon and eager to learn more about the process of compiling Birds will particularly enjoy.
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