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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Endeavor!, 19 Dec 2002
By 
Martin A Hogan "Marty From SF" (San Francisco, CA. (Hercules)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mama Poc: Ecologist's Account of the Extinction of a Species (Paperback)
Every year, newspapers dole out articles about the endangered or even extinction of a species somewhere on the globe. Yet, few describe the multitude of reasons for this event, much less the brave people who fight the battles. Dr. Anne LaBastille's, "Mama Poc" details the myriad of mistakes and consequences of the now extinct Atitlan giant grebe. Starting over 25 years ago, Dr. LaBastille started a one-person movement to save a rare species of a water bird on a large volcanic lake in the middle of Guatemala. A modern day Dr. Livingston, Anne LaBastille dealt with local residents of Lake Atitlan, the Guatemalan government and dozens of foundations to obtain the necessary grants. These were not just to save a bird species, but a large recreational lake, a way of life and the residents livelihood. The author has woven a personal memoir detailing the dilemmas of her work. Far from a flat testimonial, one reads about the friends and coworkers that befriended Dr. LaBastille during her years of research. It is a personal story as well as a brilliant documentary of her research filled with stories of earthquakes, revelations, periless lake storms, successes, political guerillas, murder and love. At first the reader may wonder why on earth someone would go through all this trouble to save a water bird. By the end of the first chapter you will find yourself cheering for the underdog with all the odds stacked against her. The Smithsonian Institution's Thomas E. Lovejoy summed it all up in the 'forward'. "The measure of our success will be in the number of species that survive. They will also be our reward". Well said.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of extinction told in a moving, but unsentimental way, 16 May 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Mama Poc: Ecologist's Account of the Extinction of a Species (Paperback)
Among all the tales of commitment to a cause,
personal loss, and bravery to face the
world despite the heartbreaks it brings, Anne
LaBastille's story of the decline and eventual
extinction of the giant pied-billed grebe of
Guatemala's Lake Atitlan is a winner. Beginning
with the author's arrival at the lake in 1965, the
memoir-cum natural history tells the saga of how
the young naturalist came to fall in love with the
most engaging of the country's water birds and its
surroundings, and how against the odds of weather,
earthquakes, and political turmoil, she and her
Guatemalan cohorts documented the gradual erosion
of the species's habitat over the subsequent
two and a half decades. LaBastille weaves together
the story of losing a species with that of losing
a lover and friends, so that we feel her grief in
both personal and professional domains. At the
same time, she keeps enough distance so that we
learn the facts of the case with its details of
over-development and careless management of the
lake's assets that contributed to the final loss
of a species. Although we know the
outcome of her story from page one, her suspenseful
account leaves us hoping for a different ending
right up until the last sentence. LaBastille
blames no one cause, but her tale makes it clear
that the the giant grebe's fate was not inevitable.
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Mama Poc: Ecologist's Account of the Extinction of a Species
Mama Poc: Ecologist's Account of the Extinction of a Species by A Labastille (Paperback - 28 Feb 1992)
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