The Flight Of The Iguana: A Sidelong View Of Science And Nature

The Flight of the Iguana: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature
by David Quammen

Delacorte Press
GA **


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This is a collection of short essays published earlier by Outside magazine, and, like Quammen's earlier book (Natural Acts, 1985), it is eminently readable. The author instills a sense of fascination and concern for the natural world, both familiar and exotic, and he does so without being preachy or pedantic. An underlying theme is one's own place in living systems as well as the role of human societies in care of the earth. The reader's curiosity is piqued anew with each unique essay. One can comfortably absorb a good deal of knowledge about biology and ecology and come away with a higher regard for the complexities, interdependencies, and fragilities of nature. Themes stressed include biodiversity, evolution, conservation, education, scientific controversies and mysteries, moral issues, and human interactions with other species. While the author is at times "trendy," even poetic, he is also very honest in his opinions and occasional witty sarcasms. This helps make the essays believable and interesting. The writing flows well, and the concepts discussed are easily understood. The author is effective in making his point concisely at the end of each essay. The book should help people think about life on earth in a more holistic and less self-centered or purely economic way.

--Reviewed by Keith Roe in Science Books and Films, 24/2 (November/December 1988), p. 72.