A model 'natural history' book,
This review is from: Carnivorous Nights: On the Trail of the Tasmanian Tiger (Paperback)
This beautifully written and informative book take the reader on a tour of Tasmania, themed around a 'search' for the (possibly) extinct 'Thylacinus cynocephalus' or 'Tasmanian Tiger'. The tragic tale of its hunting to (again, possible) extinction in the early 20th century is gradually unfolded, not in any heavily didactic manner, but as part of the narrative and record of encounters with interesting creatures (human and otherwise) met along the way.
At the same time, other flora and fauna are effortlessly included, sneaking past this reader's fairly tepid interest in natural history, by dint of weaving them into the travelogue as integral parts of a wider quest. As stated, the writing is what I'd describe as 'effortless' or, putting it another way, always a pleasure to read, and by the end I found I'd learned (and recalled!) a great deal of Australian history and ecology. I also found myself involved with the fate of the poor Tiger and committed to the search for survivors (if any) and their conservation.
Interestingly, the two authors choose to make themselves pretty much ciphers in the narrative, far more detail being given about their companions and those they meet. Somehow this just seems right and in keeping with the spirit of the book.
The tale told is melancholic in itself - a record of mankind's selfish indifference to the other species it is supposed to share the world with; but there are also grounds for hope recounted here, and due prominence given to the good people met. The 'expedition artist's many illustrations also greatly add to the charm of the book.
In short: thoroughly recommended to both the ecologically interested and general reader alike.