By Tim Flannery
Atlantic Monthly Press, 256 pages, $25
Remote lands populated by cannibalistic natives and poisonous snakes set the stage for biologist Tim Flannery’s latest book, Among the Islands. The renowned author delves into his 1980s and ’90s expeditions to catalog unique, elusive species, like a red-gray tree-climbing mouse and a monkey-faced bat. He bounces from the Solomon Islands to Fiji to Bismarck’s Isles, falling into a sinkhole while trying to set a mist net and trudging through thigh-deep guano to get a closer look at an insect-eating bat.
When recalling his quests, Flannery never loses sight of his main aim: help identify and conserve island species, which all too often go extinct faster than those on the mainland. “Evolution by natural selection is the force that shaped us and all the living world,” he writes. “If we hope to know ourselves, we would do well to grasp its workings, and nowhere are they as intriguing or instructive as on islands.” Part travel diary and part field notebook, Among the Islands is a rollicking good adventure-science read—something like what you’d get if Charles Darwin starred in an Indiana Jones flick.
A review of Among the Islands ran in the November-December 2012 issue of Audubon.
For an excerpt of the book, visit audubonmagazine.org on Monday.