Archives For Natural History

 

An Everyman’s Guide to all Things Bee

The Bee: A Natural History

Noah Wilson-Rich

Hardback: Princeton UP, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon

 

Reviewed by Mary Bowling

 
Gorgeous and fascinating, bees are insects that elicit strong feelings from whomever they come into contact. From schoolchildren (and teachers) who flail and shout, “A bee! A bee!” at any small winged creature within swatting distance, to researchers, protesters, and beekeepers who devote themselves to finding and alleviating a host of maladies affecting the beleaguered bugs, almost no one is indifferent. The Bee: A Natural History is an everyman’s guide to all things bee, definitely pretty enough to sit out on the coffee table, and very perusable.

 
Bees have been around for millions of years, and there are thousands of bee species, so for someone who’s interested, there’s a lot to know. Dr. Noah Wilson-Rich clearly knows a lot, and has created an interesting, visually stimulating book with a concise directory of the world’s bees and gobs of beautiful close-up photos. Also contributing with the book are Kelly Allin, Norman Carreck, and Andrea Quigley. At 213 pages, The Bee: A Natural History can sometimes feel like a brief introduction to about twenty or thirty other books that could be written about the almost impossibly broad subject of bees.

 
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“A Conversation With the History of a Place”

A Review of
Mannahatta:
A Natural History of New York City.
By
Eric Sanderson.

Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.

Mannahatta:
A Natural History of New York City.
Eric Sanderson.
Hardback: Abrams, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

My observations and conclusions thus far sum up to this: In our American cities, we need all kinds of diversity, intricately mingled in mutual support. We need this so city life can work decently and constructively, and so the people of cities can sustain (and further develop) their society and civilization.
— Jane Jacobs,  Death and Life of Great American Cities, 137

Mannahatta - Eric SandersonJane Jacobs’ Manhattan in the 1960s was already a megalopolis with approximately the 1.6 million people that live there today. The marks of a healthy city community she identified – such as density, diversified uses of spaces, and neighborhoods –   turn out to be equally useful when describing natural ecologies, namely the pre-colonial island of Mannahatta, home to at least fifty-five distinct “ecological communities” of old-growth forests, salt marshes, swamps and the like, several hundred plant and animal species, and a human population of between two- and six-hundred people, the Lenape. The monumental task of assembling a vision of Manhattan as Henry Hudson and company would have first seen it on September 12, 1609 has been the task of Eric Sanderson, a landscape ecologist based out of the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo. Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City is the resulting book chronicling years of research and map-making, and filled out with extensive illustrations of the verdant green of Mannahatta (that’s right) by Markley Boyer, which are a striking contrast when acting as diptychs with bird’s-eye photographs of present-day Manhattan.

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