Nature's Ghosts : Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-10-15
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
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The rapid growth of the American environmental movement in recent decades obscures the fact that long before the first Earth Day and the passage of the Endangered Species Act, naturalists and concerned citizens recognizedand worried aboutthe problem of human-caused extinction. As Mark V. Barrow reveals inNature's Ghosts, the threat of species loss has haunted Americans since the early days of the republic. From Thomas Jefferson's daywhen the fossil remains of such fantastic lost animals as the mastodon and the woolly mammoth were first reconstructedthrough the pioneering conservation efforts of early naturalists like John James Audubon and John Muir, Barrow shows how Americans came to understand that it was not onlypossiblefor entire species to die out, but that humans themselves could be responsible for their extinction. With the destruction of the passenger pigeon and the precipitous decline of the bison, professional scientists and wildlife enthusiasts alike began to understand that even very common species were not safe from the juggernaut of modern, industrial society. That realization spawned public education and legislative campaigns that laid the foundation for the modern environmental movement and the preservation of such iconic creatures as the bald eagle, the California condor, and the whooping crane. A sweeping, beautifully illustrated historical narrative that unites the fascinating stories of endangered animals and the dedicated individuals who have studied and struggled to protect them,Nature's Ghostsoffers an unprecedented view of what we've lostand a stark reminder of the hard work of preservation still ahead.

Author Biography

Mark V. Barrow Jr. is associate professor of history at Virginia Tech and the author of A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
Bones of Contention The American Incognitum and the Discovery of Extinctionp. 15
Paradise Lost Unraveling the Mysteries of Insular Speciesp. 47
Sounding the Alarm About Continent-Wide Wildlife Extinctionp. 78
Nationalism, Nostalgia, and the Campaign to Save the Bisonp. 108
Going Global The American Committee and the First Inventory of Extinctionp. 135
The Latin American Turn Nature Protection in the Western Hemispherep. 168
Enter Ecology Preserving Nature's Living Laboratoryp. 201
Reconsidering Raptors During the Interwar Yearsp. 234
Salvation Through Science? The First Life-History Studies of Endangered Speciesp. 260
"The Nation's First Responsibility" Saving Endangered Species in the Age of Ecologyp. 301
Conclusionp. 345
Notesp. 361
Select Bibliographyp. 445
Indexp. 473
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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