Saturday, March 7, 2015

Book Review Time! Lost Animals - Extinction and the Photographic Record

Disclaimer! Princeton Publishing provided the copies for review!

(Cover - an awesome one, I must say)

Price listed on book - US $29.95
Author - Errol Fuller
Pages - 256
Size - ~8"x10" - and a little more than an inch thick. 
Topics covered - This book is pretty much 28 species accounts of extinct animals - all featured because of the reprinted photographs of these lost beasts... 
Photographs - Numerous! (148+?) And they're all marvellous and terrible to see

The Skinny: This is a book filled with photographs of extinct animals... The images pull you in, and the (simple) text/accounts keep you thinking about the horrible things humans have done to this planet from a natural history point of view. It's well done. 

The good: It is an interesting book to say the least. Typically I have been reviewing field guides or reference works, and this one is a bit different... It's more of a "book-proper" and therefore may not be the type of material a naturalist is rushing out the door to add to their collection. With that in mind, the book itself is very well done. I could picture an author focusing on the horrible stories of extinction, and the book could have become quite depressing. This isn't the case here, where the figures are labeled in a very factual manner, and the accounts provide relevant details without pointing any fingers. 

If it were darker - it wouldn't be as enjoyable to flip through...
If it were lighter - it wouldn't do these "lost animals" justice...

I quite enjoy it! The "species accounts" structure also allows one to simply pick up the book, and open to any random page - and enjoy it... Rather than reading from start to finish, then putting it on the shelf to collect dust..

The Bad: Extinct animals! But seriously.. The book is quite nice, just don't expect tooo much from it. Many of the images are old (surprise!) so they are hardly the bright stunning images we see in todays print... Shouldn't be a big deal... Also, it acts somewhat like a reference piece, and a lot of work has been put into pulling these images together - but it is hardly a lesson in rigid scientific writing. None of these things are "bad" per-se, but something you should be aware of in advance!

(A good example of some images and how they are presented)

Who should buy it? 

An interesting question! (Thanks!) - I think there are some criteria here to avoid:

- Young children (the images are pretty dull, and they may not appreciate that.. And, 

- People lacking an appreciation for the natural world

I think younger children are not going to become absorbed in this book... Maybe 10+? (I've never had kids, so I'm not exactly sure of this)... But I can tell you that the flying fish book is the type of thing that is going to capture imaginations of little munchkins... The text is easy enough to read that it is very much suitable for "kids" if you think they're ready for it... The other group to "avoid" is people who could care less about our natural world... It's almost the same situation as with the young children (which is how I feel about those people as adults - thinking about things as small kids!) This is not the book to build an appreciation for the natural world... 

To sum it up, if you know someone 10+, and has a basic understanding of what a "species" is, or has heard the word "biodiversity", or just likes being outside in nature - they are likely to enjoy casually flipping through the pages of this book!

(I can only hope my name never appears in a work like this in the future) 

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