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To See Every Bird on Earth
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About the Author

Dan Koeppel is a well-known outdoors, nature, and adventure writer who has written for the New York Times Magazine, Outside, Audubon, Popular Science, and National Geographic Adventure, where he is a contributing editor. Koeppel has also appeared on CNN and Good Morning America, and is a former commentator for Public Radio International's Marketplace.

Reviews

More than the story of one man's lifelong obsession with birding, Koeppel's book is the biography of his family and the effect his father's quest has had on them. It also covers the history of birding and tells about "Big Listers," those few people who have counted more than 7000 species of birds. One of them-and there are only around ten-has built his entire career around listing. His job in the diplomatic service allows him to live in exotic locales and thus add many new birds; he is aiming for 8000 species, 2000 more than scientists believe existed. True birders are constantly amending their lists as new bird species are discovered or old species are "clumped" together with already existing listings. This work explains the intricacies of birding and the fascinating people who devote their lives to birds. John McDonough's narration is excellent; highly recommended for all libraries.-Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ., Russellville Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

For some people, bird watching is a compulsion that can become more important than friends, family or career. Richard Koeppel is one of those obsessive birders, and in this candid book, his son shares his story, painting his father as a tragic figure who passionately wanted to become an ornithologist but became the doctor his parents wanted him to be instead. Not surprisingly, Richard's medical career never satisfied him, and he gave it up to become a Big Lister, one of a group of highly competitive birders who travel the world making lists of their sightings. Over the years he spotted more than 7,000 different species, a number achieved by fewer than a dozen others. Nature writer Koeppel fleshes out his account of Richard's 50-year bird-watching odyssey with facts about this ritualized, expensive sport, including its history, the rules and technicalities of listing, the people and organizations devoted to making the lists, and questions of taxonomy. His hope, he writes, was to forge a closer relationship with his father and understand the nearly unquenchable drive that ruled Richard's life, ruined his marriage and made it impossible for him to be close to his children. But in the end, despite trekking alongside his father on birding expeditions, he still can't quite understand it. His book, then, is more poignant than revelatory. Agent, Laurie Liss. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Marvelous. I loved just about everything about this book."--Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman

"A lovingly told story . . . helps you understand what moves humans to seek escape in seemingly strange other worlds."--Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak

"Everyone has his or her addiction, and birdwatching is the drug of choice for the father of author Dan Koeppel, who writes affectionately but honestly about his father's obsession."--Audubon Magazine (editor's choice)

"As a glimpse into human behavior and family relationships, To See Every Bird on Earth is a rarity: a book about birding that nonbirders will find just as rewarding."--Chicago Tribune

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