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Nature Wars: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds Hardcover – Nov 13 2012

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 55 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating read and history lesson! Dec 14 2012
By Vann - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Jim Sterba's new book Nature Wars is a must read for anyone that truly understands the interface between man and nature. Sterba does an incredible job educating the reader about the history of how man has gone from over-consumption of our precious natural resources to the brink of extinction; to the dawn of the conservation movement; to the petty bickering of suburbia gone wild. The book is extremely well written by a seasoned journalist that knows his topic. I devoured the book over the course of two evenings and found it very hard to put down. As a history buff, I found the early chapters about colonial settlement and the impact on our forests and wildlife to be quite thorough and eye opening. As an outdoorsman and hunter, I found the second half to be a sad commentary on how "out of touch" many suburbanites can be. I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about a growing concern and to all that consider themselves conservationists. In my humble opinion, Sterba hit a home run.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Interesting information, but limited. Feb. 22 2013
By Bill C - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found the information interesting. He concentrated on trees, deer, turkeys, Canada geese, and the like, all in the eastern United States. It would have been nice to see more species discussed (perhaps in not as much detail), like squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, o'possums, and others. Also, only a limited discussion of the mid-West, plains, or Rockies, and essentially nothing about the Pacific coast or Alaska and Hawaii. I am sure that the author annoyed both the animal rights groups and the animal control groups, with perhaps more annoyance to the former. It would be interesting to read a brief rebuttal from each group to see where they think he misrepresented.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Book I'd Been Waiting For March 5 2013
By D. Miller - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a 68 year old I've witnessed a fairly dramatic increase in suburban and urban wildlife in my hometown of Berkeley, California and on my fairly regular trips to the Hudson River Valley and elsewhere. I've also noticed that if I bring up the subject that perhaps there are more deer, for example, in my neighborhood than can be supported and maybe a few should be eliminated, I get violent arguments that are more or less "you can't kill Bambi". I've been waiting for a book to address this and here it is. The author's basic premise is that suburbanites and some urbanites actually live in a living forest that should be managed intelligently. He claims, and backs it up with convincing evidence, that many wild animals prefer living in the suburbs. Deer much prefer the newly planted vegetables, roses etc. of the suburbs to the mossy floor of an old growth forest. Beaver are excited to have nicely cut and stacked wood to use for their damns. Birds are excited to have feeders full of fresh seeds readily available. Coyotes, Raccoons and Bears learn where all the garbage dumps are. But he points out that few people have any actual connection with the land and how many creatures it can support. They commute, watch t.v., buy food at the store and observe birds feeding and the occasional raccoon, deer or whatever pass by from their living room easy chairs. Hollywood movies have anthropomorphized animals into four legged humans who deserve the same or nearly equal rights as people. Many suburbanites refuse to hear any arguments to thin out beaver, deer, wild turkey or feral cat populations no matter how overpopulated a given area might be with these creatures. Special interest groups have sprouted up supporting different creatures. These groups will not back off (with one exception. After the famous airplane crash into the Hudson Canadian Geese interest groups backed off and allowed for the authorities to greatly reduce goose numbers). Public officials have received death threats when they advocate humane reduction of populations. My conclusion - Unless we're willing to bring wolves and cougars into our neighborhoods, something has got to be done to balance the ecology of the suburban forest we live in. (Note - I read the Kindle Edition which is correctly formatted, and, of course, overpriced like all new editions these days)
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By Hilary - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I read this in three sittings... rare for me.And I did it because it was so much fun and because I was learning so much. Critters and trees are not my thing, but history and social policy are. Sterba's book looks at American social and economic history with new eyes. It is fascinating, different and important. And the critters... oh boy! There are a BUNCH of 'em. And they smell our lunch. Chris Crowley
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Wildlife Out of Balance Oct. 5 2013
By Conrad J. Obregon - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Yesterday I received an e-mail from a conservation organization asking me to support efforts to stop the slaughter of elephants in Africa. If it is important to save the elephants, isn't it also important to stop the killing of white-tailed deer in the Northeastern United States. Well, no, if you believe Jim Sterba.

Sterba tells how both the flora and the fauna of the U.S. were first reduced and then came back with a vengeance over time, although with a different flavor and significantly out of balance. He recounts the reforestation of farms after agriculture shifted its locus west, while at the same time people began to move into the newly reforested areas. Some animals, thanks to the removal of natural predators, increased in numbers beyond those which existed during the nation's settlement. The author gives individual accounts of beavers, deer, Canada geese, turkeys and bears. He analyzes how human behavior has changed with regard to the natural world, including our lack of direct contact and our love affair with the environmentally dangerous automobile. He makes a brief stop with bird feeding (harmless but not protective) and feral cats (why would folks want to protect them?) He finishes up with an epilogue that calls for, among other things, limiting deer populations by hiring sharpshooters for mass culling (there aren't enough hunters to do the job.) I particularly enjoyed his descriptions of the efforts of knee-jerk conservationists who believe in preserving the life of any animal, no matter how damaging they are to the rest of the environment. Sterba's writing is clear, lucid and interesting.

One might feel a little suspect, given Sterba's background as a farm boy who was used to animal deaths, but the book is well researched and documented, and at least as far as deer, almost exactly right. I say almost exactly because he doesn't go deeply enough into the damage that deer do, not just from spreading disease, but also from destroying the new forests to the point where they are becoming uninhabitable by other flora and fauna.

I would recommend the book to the people who have never considered how the natural world has grown out of balance, but I also recommend it to those who are concerned with trying to manage it in a better way. At the very least they should be aware how strong, well-resourced opponents will come out of the woods (pun intended). It may be less attractive as a read to some people because the book is not all-encompassing, being focused on the Northeastern part of the country, or because it doesn't deal with their favorite pesky varmint. But the bottom line is that white-tailed deer are not equal to elephants.