on 12 February 2001
Having read the excellent "Song of the Dodo", this was a disappointment. Maybe it's just my lack of interest in sports kayaking and Nordic skiing, but I found these articles rather "thin". The ideas were generally rather obvious - damming beautiful rivers bad, hunting iffy, sitting around with fingers on nuclear attack buttons scary weird, undiscovered wild places good - and while Quammen's humour and eye for detail do come through, it's not enough to make for a genuinely interesting read.
on 9 July 1999
I bought this book just before going on a 2 week trip to Chile for scientific research. It surprised me. The essays were often on topics which I thought I had no interest-trout- but Quammen gives the subject an interesting philosphical slant.
I read alot of natural history books and these essays were not the usual style of writing that I have come to expect. Quammen incorporates science, history, and philosophy into his writing. I liked some of the essays so much I wished that he had gone into greater detail! And i will be looking up some of the references he cites at the end of his book! It was a great companion for 4 cloudy nights on a mt in chile.
on 11 October 1998
I picked up 'Natural Acts' at the library's paperback book-swap. I only grabbed it because the first few pages seemed a bit humorous and witty. Upon further review, I realized that I was dealing with no ordinary author (if any of them can be called ordinary).
David Quammen has an unparalleled flair for putting nature in its place. By the end of 'Natural Acts' you'll be happily convinced that this world is as mystical and comical as you thought it was.
Some of my favorite topics in the book include (in my own words): The (exaggerated)Size of Anacondas, The Intelligent Crow, Why Are There So Many Damned Beetles?, and that whole 'Why Would Someone Drink Their Own Urine?' thing.
'Natural Acts' is a very intelligent and hilarious look at nature. I routinely recommend this book to anyone I find remotely interested in science.
on 18 March 1998
From why so many zoos have white tigers to how whitewater resembles the human heart, David Quammen sees what the rest of us don't. Even better, he knows how to write lucidly about it. Anyone who read his masterful "Song of the Dodo" will find this an easy companion; for anyone who hasn't, perhaps this will be a tantalizing appetizer. The only drawback is that this is a collection of essays, so he rarely is able to fully explore an idea.