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The Big Year [Paperback]

Mark Obmascik
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Feb 2005

Each year, hundreds of people set out across North America determined to set a new record in a spectacularly competitive event. Is it tennis? Golf? Racing? Poker perhaps? No, it's bird-watching, and a contest known as the Big Year - a grand, gruelling, expensive (and occasionally vicious) 365-day marathon to identify the most species.

THE BIG YEAR is the rollicking chronicle of the 275,000-mile odyssey of three unlikely adventurers who take their bird-watching so seriously it nearly kills them. From Texas in pursuit of the Rufus-capped Warbler to British Columbia in search of Xantus' Hummingbird, these obsessive enthusiasts brave roasting deserts, storm-tossed oceans, infested swamps and disgruntled lions (not to mention some of the lumpiest hotel mattresses known to man) as they vie to become North America's number one bird-watcher in what would prove to be the biggest Big Year of them all...

In this captivating tour of human and avian nature, of courage and deceit, of passion and paranoia, prize-winning journalist Mark Obmascik reveals the extremes to which Man will go to pursue his dreams, to conquer and to categorize - no matter how low the stakes. Wonderfully funny, acutely observed and hugely entertaining, THE BIG YEAR is a lark of a read.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (1 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553815512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553815511
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 936,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A true and unexpectedly exhilarating tale of guile, obsession and competitiveness as rich and involving as any novel... You will care" (The Week)

"An adrenaline rush of a book... about an obsession almost as mad as it is magnificent" (YORKSHIRE POST)

"An exciting road trip of a story... This sense of thrilling liberation, forays into uncharted territories and an understanding of what drives these men is as much part of the story as the quest itself" (THE LIST) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Wacky, wonderfully funny (and occasionally alarming) story of the race to win the greatest bird-watching competition of all time...

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An entertaining and informative account of the race between three birders to beat the Big Year record in 1998. The Big Year is a competition to see the most species on the United States and Canada in a single calendar year. Mark Obmascik's book uses the diaries of the three twitchers as well as recollections from fellow birders as they pile on the air miles, criss-crossing the continent to hopefully see reported rarity and vagrant species.

Obmascik writes in a witty anecdotal style and really gets under the surface of the three otherwise very diverse individuals as they race, unwittingly at first, for the same prize. As well as the humour and entertainment value, his book is also very informative chronicling, for example, the history of man's discovery of bird migration as well as the introduction of new species to the US such as the Himalayan Snowcock.

The Big Year is an excellent, enlightening read and is highly recommended for anyone interested in birding or the psychology of those obsessed enough to travel the length of the country to possibly see a singe, new rare species.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read 20 Jan 2010
One of the most memorable and funny birding books I've ever read. Each of the competing characters are well described and one never ceases to be amazed at the lengths they will go to to win the big year. A thoroughly good read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not riveting 27 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Recommended to me whilst on holiday in Florida and noting the wonderfully prolific species of birds from brown pelicans to red cardinals. The story is a bit boring but the references to the numerous bird species will be of interest to the ardent birder.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended 8 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hold up a pair of binoculars in the approximate direction of a bird anywhere in the US and random members of the public walk over and ask if you are "doing a Big Year". This book explains what they are talking about. A fascinating insight into the psychology of collectors and nature lovers illustrating just how dedicated some individual's are to achieving their goal.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Romantic pastime 22 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Saw the movie first and fell in love with the concept of trying to see the maximum number of birds in a calendar year. The book itself is very different from the movie. In my opinion both literary and cinematic experience are a must.
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