Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mini - Reviews

I have had a huge stack of books to review and it will take some time to get through them. The enormity of the task has rather unnerved me, and kept me procrastinating. Finally I thought I would mention each right here, with recommendations, a word or two on content, and a link if possible. Then I would be able to deal with one or two longer reviews at a time (when I have time!), and feel a bit less guilty.

Going Out Green by Bob Butz is a light hearted but realistic book about Butz's search for a "green" burial. All you Ed Abbey admirers out there-- I count myself one-- should enjoy this one.

A Primate's Memoir by Robert Sapolski (thanks, LabRat!) will tell you a lot about baboons and how field ethogists work. But it also takes on an air of increasing tragedy as his troop succumbs to a needless epidemic of TB caused by uncaring humans, and begins almost to take on an air of one of those AIDS memoirs from the bad years. Finally it attains an air of elegiac peace with two old primates, a surviving baboon and the author, snatching a fleeting peaceful moment together in the late afternoon sun.

Bond of Passion by Arizona bird dog man Web Parton, may be the best pointing dog training manual I have read, and I have read them all. The title says it-- if you don't love fine working dogs with a passion, do something else; the dogs have it for their work, and you should too to do them justice.

Mary Scriver's Dog Catching in America is both a sometimes- hilarious collection of tales from Mary's dog catching days, and a serious look at the compromises that must be made in a democratic society. I have sometimes banged heads with Mary on some issues because of my adamant dislike of most animal law, but she has reminded me of the real difficulties of being fair, especially in an urban environment.

Down Mexico Way by Chilton Williamson (available here) is a deadly novel that takes place on our dangerous border, a place Chilton knows well. If you like Cormac McCarty but can grow weary of his sonorous cadences, you'll enjoy this one. I also particularly recommend his Roughnecking it and The Hundredth Meridian, available from the same site. Chilton is too little known, perhaps because he is hard to put in the neat boxes that society demands, especially for writers: a rather"green' conservative who once was an editor at National Review (in its better days); a transplanted but genuine westerner; and an old friend of Ed Abbey's. And mine.

Falconer on the Edge by Rachel Dickinson is the best book about falconry by a non- falconer ever written-- in fact, it is better than 90% of the ones written by falconers! For an excellent longer review by artist (and falconer) Carel Brest van Kempen go here; for Rachel's blog go here.

Six Legged Soldiers by Jeffrey Lockwood is a fascinating book that might keep you up at night, about how societies including our own have used insect as weapons, from the distant past until now. Great if disconcerting read for naturalists; a good corrective for Utopians (see earlier post).

Finally (for now), Terry Wieland's Vintage British Shotguns is one of the two "must read" in subject today, along with Diggory Hadoke's Vintage Guns. Wieland's is the most readable and well written (Hadoke makes few concessions to the American reader, and you need to know more going in, although he may have more details). Wieland's tale of refinishing an exquisite but nearly ruined gun found in a Canadian barn gives hope to those with Champagne tastes and mooonshine budgets!


Matt Mullenix said...

A great collection. And I like the "mini-review" style!

Also agree about Falconer on the Edge. It's the real thing.

Rachel Dickinson said...

Holy smokes. Rare praise from the two of you. Thanks.

prairie mary said...

Thanks, Steve. I think you summed up the point very well. If people just paid attention and used common sense, we really would NOT need animal laws. My line was always "dogs know what to do -- it's the people who are all mixed up."