All about Birds: A Short Illustrated History of Ornithology Hardcover – Mar 21 2010
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"What a treat! In a concise, beautifully illustrated 239 pages, Valerie Chansigaud offers a history lesson on the study of birds. We meet Aristotle, Audubon, Darwin, and many other ornithologists, artists, and photographer who devoted their lives to understanding birds."--Birder's World
"Anyone who is more than casually interested in birds will heartily welcome the publication of All About Birds. . . . Following a timeline (which is outlined in the back of the book) Chansigaud provides entries about all of the major contributors to bird science. Fully half the volume is devoted to the 19th century during which ornithology came into full flower. The book is richly illustrated, very accessible, and has a good bibliography."--Wayne Mones, Audubon
"Beautifully illustrated. . . . If you want a basic primer on who was studying birds in former ages, this is a good place to start."--Mark Cocker, Birding
"Well illustrated often with period bird art. . . . [A] good introduction to the history of ornithology."--Ian Paulsen, Birdbooker Report
"For the serious birder it is a very enjoyable read for those rainy days when getting out into the field isn't an option. It reads easily and makes very frequent use of period illustrations and photographs to give us a real taste of the evolution of man's understanding of birds. From the days when the preferred tool of devoted birders like John James Audubon was a hunting rifle to the advent of modern bird photography, Chansigaud's All About Birds is an eye-opener and a page turner."--Brad Sylvester, Manchester Bird Watching Examiner
"A wonderful, easy to follow history of ornithology. . . . Cover to cover, All About Birds is loaded with illustrations, photographs, and diagrams of the people, birds, and events that have advanced ornithology and led to modern day birding."--Birdfreak.com
"Chansigaud, an environmental scientist, provides a concise history of the study of birds. . . . This carefully written, scholarly work should be valuable to academic libraries that support studies of ornithology, vertebrate biology, and the history of science."--Choice
"This book provides useful context to what we know about birds today and why it matters. It is enhanced not only by an index, but also an illustrated timeline and a bibliography for further study. If you're interested in the history of natural history, this book would be a worthwhile purchase."--Tom Palmer, Lakeland Ledger
"This is an excellent book for any birder or bird lover who's curious about how human knowledge and interest in birds has evolved. Starting Aristotle and surveying European and American bird observers, this book traverses the centuries smoothly and clearly. It brings bird knowledge, now formally dubbed ornithology, up to the very recent past."--Harry Fuller, Towheeblog
"A fast-paced chronological account of the personalities and milestones that have shaped this most popular of sciences."--ISLE
"Anyone lacking encyclopedic knowledge of bird artists will learn something new in every section of this book. Collectively, their remarkable images of birds not only brighten All About Birds but awaken the reader, whose aesthetic engagement with birds will be at or near the height of experience by this reading. . . . This book, no doubt, will reinforce la passion in those who already know something of the field and will instill it in all for whom ornithology awaits as revelation."--Shepard Krech III, BioScience
From the Inside Flap
"This is the deepest and most thorough history of ornithology that I have seen. The mixture of history, biographical sketches, period illustrations, and science give it a broad appeal, and the writing is quite engaging. An important feature of the book is its coverage of European ornithology, which nicely complements books on the history of American ornithology and birding. The book's timeline is especially valuable."--Frank Gill, former president of the American Ornithologist's Union--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In design, it looks like a coffee table book but it is only quarto size. Since the text is unexciting, the illustrations constitute most of the interest in the book. The small format works against the appeal of the volume. Most of the bird illustrations are postcard size, and the illustrations of the ornitolologists and of the title pages of their books are postage stamp size.
The translation from Valerie Chansigaud's original French is sometimes awkward, but a redeeming value in reading a Eurocentric history of ornithology is that Chansigaud pays far more attention to continental researchers, collections and publications than we typically get in English-oriented surveys.
The dry text is enlivened by occasional -- but too rare -- factoids. An otherwise minor traveler, Pierre Sonnerat, published a book on the birds of New Guinea in 1776. Chansigaud quotes his stunning observation that parrots constituted perhaps the most varied genus of birds because each of the islands of rhe Philippines "is home to one or several species of this genus, that are their own, and that one does not find on the other islands of the same archipelago, however small the distance between them may be."
But it was too early in the modern study of birds for the significance of biogeography to penetrate -- Linneaus's book on species was still fresh and by no means widely accepted -- and Sonnerat was incurious about theory, or otherwise we might all remember Sonnerat's parrots instead of Darwin's finches.
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