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About The Book

From the award-winning author of The Tangled Tree and The Song of the Dodo comes a collection of essays in which various weird and wonderful aspects of nature are examined.

From tales of vegetarian piranha fish and voiceless dogs to the scientific search for the genes that threaten to destroy the cheetah, Quammen captures the natural world with precision. Throughout, he illuminates the surprising intricacies of the natural world, and our human attitudes towards those intricacies. A distinguished essayist, Quammen’s reporting is masterful and thought provoking and his curiosity and fascination with the world of living things is infectious.

About The Author

Photograph by Louise Johns

David Quammen’s books include BreathlessThe Tangled TreeThe Song of the DodoThe Reluctant Mr. Darwin, and Spillover. He has written for The New YorkerHarper’s Magazine, The AtlanticNational Geographic, and Outside, among other magazines, and is a three-time winner of the National Magazine Award. Quammen shares a home in Bozeman, Montana, with his wife, Betsy Gaines Quammen, author of American Zion, and with three Russian wolfhounds, a cross-eyed cat, and a rescue python. Visit him at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (October 16, 2012)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476728735

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Raves and Reviews

“Quammen writes about biology and the world of living things with a jaundiced, cockeyed view. He has a healthy respect for the absurdity of life as well as its silliness. . . . He writes with effortless control over his material and a quiet passion.” Los Angeles Times

“David Quammen’s curiosity is infectious and his thought provocative. Lewis Thomas and Stephen Gould will have to make room for him in the small company of distinguished essayists in the natural sciences.” —Peter Matthiessen

“Quammen’s commentaries on natural history are unique, a delightful blend of skepticism, charming intelligence, and accurate reporting.” —Barry Lopez

“One of the nation’s most eloquent spokesmen for nature.” San Francisco Chronicle

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