The Endangered Species Road Trip: A Summer's Worth of Dingy Motels, Poison Oak, Ravenous Insects, and the Rarest Species in North America

Cameron MacDonald. Greystone Books (HarperCollins Canada, Heritage Group Distribution, Canadian Dist.; PGW, U.S. Dist.), C$19.95/US$17.95 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-55365-935-8
Confronted with his personal inexperience with the endangered animals about which he teaches, academic MacDonald decides to rectify this shortcoming by investing a summer in field work. Accompanied by his wife, children and dog, MacDonald devotes a summer to finding 34 of Canada and the USA's rarest animals. His quest will take him on two great loops across the two nations, from Canada's urban core to the forbidding depths of America's dismal south. He finds species teetering on the edge of extinction, in most cases pushed towards the precipice by climate change and the activities of humans. The condor, the manatee and the polar bear cling to existence, at least for the moment, but others, unfortunates like the ivory-billed woodpecker, have probably forever vanished, part of the vast wealth of biodiversity squandered by that highly successful but short-sighted hominid species to which the author and his readers belong. Documenting the ongoing simplification of North America's ecologies could be grim work – the specters of death and total extinction are ever present— but MacDonald's comedic sense and his engaging style are addictive and the resulting tale is intensely charming. Comparable to Douglas Adams's seminal Last Chance to See, MacDonald's debut book should be considered a must-buy. Agent: Sam Hiyate, The Rights Factory. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/19/2013
Release date: 07/01/2013
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