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Nature Wars

The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds

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Hardcover published by Crown (Crown Publishing Group)

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About This Book

This may be hard to believe but it is very likely that more people live in closer proximity to more wild animals, birds and trees in the eastern United States today than anywhere on the planet at any time in history.  For nature lovers, this should be wonderful news -- unless, perhaps, you are one of more than 4,000 drivers who will hit a deer today, your child’s soccer field is carpeted with goose droppings, coyotes are killing your pets, the neighbor’s cat has turned your bird feeder into a fast-food outlet, wild turkeys have eaten your newly-planted seed corn, beavers have flooded your driveway, or bears are looting your garbage cans.
 
For 400 years, explorers, traders, and settlers plundered North American wildlife and forests in an escalating rampage that culminated in the late 19th century’s “era of extermination.”  By 1900, populations of many wild animals and birds had been reduced to isolated remnants or threatened with extinction, and worry mounted that we were running out of trees. Then, in the 20th century, an incredible turnaround took place. Conservationists outlawed commercial hunting, created wildlife sanctuaries, transplanted isolated species to restored habitats and imposed regulations on hunters and trappers. Over decades, they slowly nursed many wild populations back to health.
           
But after the Second World War something happened that conservationists hadn’t foreseen: sprawl. People moved first into suburbs on urban edges, and then kept moving out across a landscape once occupied by family farms. By 2000, a majority of Americans lived in neither cities nor country but in that vast in-between. Much of sprawl has plenty of trees and its human residents offer up more and better amenities than many wild creatures can find in the wild: plenty of food, water, hiding places, and protection from predators with guns. The result is a mix of people and wildlife that should be an animal-lover’s dream-come-true but often turns into a sprawl-dweller’s nightmare.

Nature Wars offers an eye-opening look at how  Americans lost touch with the natural landscape, spending 90 percent of their time indoors where nature arrives via television, films and digital screens in which wild creatures often behave like people or cuddly pets.  All the while our well-meaning efforts to protect animals allowed wild populations to burgeon out of control, causing damage costing billions, degrading ecosystems, and touching off disputes that polarized communities, setting neighbor against neighbor. Deeply researched, eloquently written, counterintuitive and often humorous Nature Wars will be the definitive book on how we created this unintended mess. 
 

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This may be hard to believe but it is very likely that more people live in closer proximity to more wild animals, birds and trees in the eastern United States today than anywhere on the planet at any time in history.  For nature lovers, this should be wonderful news -- unless, perhaps, you are one of more than 4,000 drivers who will hit a deer today, your child’s soccer field is carpeted with goose droppings, coyotes are killing your pets, the neighbor’s cat has turned your bird feeder into a fast-food outlet, wild turkeys have eaten your newly-planted seed corn, beavers have flooded your driveway, or bears are looting your garbage cans.
 
For 400 years, explorers, traders, and settlers plundered North American wildlife and forests in an escalating rampage that culminated in the late 19th century’s “era of extermination.”  By 1900, populations of many wild animals and birds had been reduced to isolated remnants or threatened with extinction, and worry mounted that we were running out of trees. Then, in the 20th century, an incredible turnaround took place. Conservationists outlawed commercial hunting, created wildlife sanctuaries, transplanted isolated species to restored habitats and imposed regulations on hunters and trappers. Over decades, they slowly nursed many wild populations back to health.
           
But after the Second World War something happened that conservationists hadn’t foreseen: sprawl. People moved first into suburbs on urban edges, and then kept moving out across a landscape once occupied by family farms. By 2000, a majority of Americans lived in neither cities nor country but in that vast in-between. Much of sprawl has plenty of trees and its human residents offer up more and better amenities than many wild creatures can find in the wild: plenty of food, water, hiding places, and protection from predators with guns. The result is a mix of people and wildlife that should be an animal-lover’s dream-come-true but often turns into a sprawl-dweller’s nightmare.

Nature Wars offers an eye-opening look at how  Americans lost touch with the natural landscape, spending 90 percent of their time indoors where nature arrives via television, films and digital screens in which wild creatures often behave like people or cuddly pets.  All the while our well-meaning efforts to protect animals allowed wild populations to burgeon out of control, causing damage costing billions, degrading ecosystems, and touching off disputes that polarized communities, setting neighbor against neighbor. Deeply researched, eloquently written, counterintuitive and often humorous Nature Wars will be the definitive book on how we created this unintended mess. 
 

Product Details
Hardcover (368 pages)
Published: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Imprint: Crown
ISBN: 9780307341969
Other books byJim Sterba
  • Frankie's Place

    Frankie's Place
    A Love Story
    "To Sterba, his beloved's cabin is an enchanted castle by the sea, and like its fairy-tale prototype, Frankie's place imposes mysterious laws and rituals, which the aspirant must master before he is deemed an acceptable consort. His prize is, indeed, a woman of daunting attributes: 'She was blond, tall, beautiful, smart, famous, and scary.'" -The Los Angeles Times Book Review A Tracy-Hepburn romance in which a down-to-earth newspaperman charms a New York sophisticate and brings her down a notch, while she teaches him a thing or two. Frankie's Place, A Love Story, is a portrait of a place and a marriage. It's about a sophisticated, blond New York City intellectual who falls for a Michigan farm boy turned foreign correspondent. Every year after the long Manhattan winter, Frances FitzGerald, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Fire in the Lake, heads north to Mount Desert Island to spend the summer writing. Her simple cottage looks over a cove, part of Somes Sound, which is full of sailboats and lobster buoys. People come to visit and one year Jim Sterba, an acquaintance, comes to for a week, and then the next year it's two, until gradually he becomes a fixture in her life for the whole summer. The story chronicles one particular summer that Jim and Frankie are spending at Frankie's place, a spot Jim considers "the perfect writer's retreat." "Frankie's place couldn't be special to me without Frankie. The cozy house, the woods and water, the lovely views and the extraordinary island were part of a stage on which our relationship grew...." Immediately upon arriving, they start the summer with a swim in the icy ocean, and a morning plunge will begin every day thereafter. Sterba charmingly depicts their busy routine in Maine of writing straight through the core of the day, and filling late afternoons-at four o'clock all work stopped-then there are arduous hikes, blueberry-picking, mussel-gathering, and scavenging for mushrooms. Wonderful recipes including ingredients from the fruit of their labor appear throughout the book-this is true Yankee cooking with corn roasted fully husked in the oven, and Frankie engaged in the gruesome art of killing the lobster. Jim loves everything quirky, odd, and old-fashioned about the nearest village to the house - from its bizarre Camden Marine Radio where he eavesdrops on lonely fisherman speaking out into the night, to its weather station which monitors the constant push and pull of frontal systems that affect the delicate coastline, to Mr. Pyle, who is at once the town's cop, the librarian, and part-time soda jerk. Interwoven are flashbacks - we hear about Sterba's burgeoning career as a journalist, his intense years as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and why he switches to writing for The Wall Street Journal. Growing up on a struggling dairy farm in Michigan, young Jim was responsible for all the strenuous and constant farm chores. In stark contrast, Frankie's family goes back to the earliest settlers of Boston. The Parkmans and the Peabodys are from Boston (including Endicott Peabody, founder of the Groton School), and the FitzGeralds are of New York. Her mother, Marietta Tree was a socialite and a big Democrat, who was married first to Frankie's father, CIA operative Desmond FitzGerald, and then to an Englishman Ronald Tree. Frankie's life as an only child, spirited between ritzy Manhattan and a grand estate in England, was lonely. At one point, she told Jim that while living in the English castle Ditchley, it was so large she could never find her mother in its twenty-six bedrooms. So, Frankie's house becomes a place for both of them to find substantive rest, spiritual space, and loving comfort. It is for both their first real home. As fall approaches, Jim and Frankie head back to New York for their "second autumn" (New York's leaves turning later than Maine's), and for a long winter in a new apartment where they have finally moved in together. Previous years had gone by where both were unable to give up their old digs, essentially overgrown work places. The book closes with a conversation Frankie's Uncle George is having with Jim, Frankie, and a few others about the family burial plot. A family stone of red granite with the inscription-Peabody--has been placed there, bayberry bushes have been planted, and Uncle George mentions a space available and asks whether Jim would be interested. Jim is completely taken aback. He can't imagine any other place he would want to be forever. He says yes. Frankie's Place is the generous portrait of both a place and a marriage that Sterba develops with wry, loving detail.

    Frankie's Place

    Frankie's Place
    In this Tracy-Hepburn romance, a down-to-earth newspaperman charms a sophisticated New York author while their long path to real love has us cheering them on as well as itching for a visit to Frankie's place on idyllic Mount Desert Island.

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