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May 2, 2008 Edition

Whatever you do, don’t run, by Peter Allison.

Allison puts a hilarious spin on his adventures as a wildlife guide in Botswana, but reading between the lines shows some scary times. Once, he tried to show some young clients the constellation Scorpio, couldn’t find it, heard a rustle in the brush he assumed was only a mouse, and discovered the constellation was being obscured by a polite but firm elephant. Then he nearly lost a drunk member of a royal family while playing strip poker. Another time, he (temporarily) abandoned his guests after a chain of bad decisions left them all stranded on an island in a hippo-infested lagoon. Along the way, readers get to know Allison and watch him grow from a 19-year old Australian transplant who’s only interested in the big mammals into a confident (but still risk-taking) guide whose love of nature has matured into an understanding of all animals.

As the World Burns, by Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan

Looking for passionate, satirical environmentalism in a quick-and-easy graphic novel format? You’ve found it here, where political cartoonist McMillan has teamed up with activist Jensen to create a world in which Earth is sold to aliens by the US government, a one-eyed bunny conducts a commando raid of a lab to rescue his pals, and two little girls try to figure out how to rescue the world from humans. Funny but serious, this takes to task those who believe that tiny changes in our habits will be enough to offset the damage done by our worldview.

High Crimes, by Michael Kodas

No pun intended, this chilling story of climbing Mt. Everest will leave you wondering where and how things go so badly wrong. Climbing Everest used to be a rarity reserved for the rich, well- prepared, and very lucky: now, however, anyone who can get enough money together to land in Nepal can start the climb. Kodas discovered that, far from being the pilgrimage and test of self it once was, the route is now rife with thieves, hoodlums, and con men. Faulty air tanks, comandeered tents, and missing safety ropes are just a few of the things Kodas encountered when he joined an expedition on assignment for his newspaper. When he returned, unsuccessful at summiting, he discovered that another climber had gone missing. Kodas’ investigation of Dr. Nils Antazana’s disappearance uncovered a seamy underside to the popular image of sherpas as faithful guides and climbers as team players.

Encyclopedia of Tidepools and Rocky Shores, by Mark W. Denny and Steven D. Gaines

This hefty tome is too big to take to the shore, but will help you figure out what you’ve seen once you return home. Each entry is written for intelligent lay-readers by a specialist in the field and concludes with a list of related articles within the encyclopedia and a list of references for further reading. Many color photos and diagrams illustrate the entries, but this is not a coffee table book. High school and college students will find more than enough for papers, and adults looking for information will find much here to amaze and amuse.

The Last Wild Wolves: Ghosts of the Rainforest, by Ian McAllister

Stunning photos of wolves in action and in repose (but still alert) grace the thoughtful prose in this book. The focus is on the groups of wolves who live on the coasts of western Canada, which have long been considered separate from the inland wolves by the Natives living in the area, but only recently proven genetically distinct. McAllister has followed these coastal wolves for seventeen years, watching pups grow up, learn to hunt and become adults, and eventually die. His love for the wolves and their niche in the world shines out in the way he writes about them and his understanding of the human politics which affects them is a poignant background.

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