I am delighted to share my review today for by Gone: A search for what remains of the world’s extinct creatures by Michael Blencowe.
This is a stunning and poignant book that I received from Alison Menzies PR for review. My huge thanks to Alison for my gorgeous copy of Gone published by Leaping Hare Press.
Dynamic naturalist Michael Blencowe has travelled the globe to uncover the fascinating backstories of eleven extinct animals, which he shares with charm and insight in Gone.
Inspired by his childhood obsession with extinct species, Blencowe takes us around the globe – from the forests of New Zealand to the ferries of Finland, from the urban sprawl of San Francisco to an inflatable crocodile on Brighton’s Widewater Lagoon. Spanning five centuries, from the last sighting of New Zealand’s Upland Moa to the 2012 death of the Pinta Island Giant Tortoise, Lonesome George, his memoir is peppered with the accounts of the hunters and naturalists of the past as well as revealing conversations with the custodians of these totemic animals today.
Featuring striking artworks that resurrect these forgotten creatures, each chapter focuses on a different animal, revealing insights into their unique characteristics and habitats; the history of their discovery and just how and when they came to be lost to us.
Blencowe inspects the only known remains of a Huia egg at Te Papa, New Zealand; views hundreds of specimens of deceased Galapagos tortoises and Xerces Blue butterflies in the California Academy of Sciences; and pays his respects to the only soft tissue remains of the Dodo in the world. Warm, wry and thought-provoking, Gone shows that while each extinction story is different, all can inform how we live in the future. Discover and learn from the stories of the:
· Great Auk. A majestic flightless seabird of the North Atlantic and the ‘original penguin’.
· Spectacled Cormorant. The ‘ludicrous bird’ from the remote islands of the Bering Sea.
· Steller’s Sea Cow. An incredible ten tonne dugong with skin as furrowed as oak bark.
· Upland Moa. The improbable birds and the one-time rulers of New Zealand.
· Huia. The unique bird with two beaks and twelve precious tail feathers.
· South Island Kōkako. The ‘orange-wattled crow’, New Zealand’s elusive Grey Ghost.
· Xerces Blue. The gossamer-winged butterfly of the San Francisco sand dunes.
· Pinta Island Tortoise. The slow-moving, long-lived giant of the Galápagos Islands.
· Dodo. The superstar of extinction.
· Schomburgk’s Deer. A mysterious deer from the wide floodplains of central Thailand.
· Ivell’s Sea Anemone. A see-through sea creature known only from southern England.
A modern must-read for anyone interested in protecting our earth and its incredible wildlife, Gone is an evocative call to conserve what we have before it is lost forever.
Purchase Link – Amazon UK
I had planned on reading this book over a couple of days, instead, I found myself quite addicted to the author’s journey and search for the remains of extinct creatures. How sad this title is “Gone: A search for what remains of the world’s extinct creatures”!
Michael Blencoe describes his love of natural history from his childhood and how exciting the world seemed. As he grew he had that realisation that there were things that once lived and thrived in the world that had now gone. The only thing that remains of these creatures is to be found in museums, collections, photographs and diaries and accounts during the travels of explorers and scientists over the past few centuries.
As I try to write a review for this book I realise that I am caught up in a bit of a vicious circle. Many Victorian Collectors contributed to the extinction of many species. But, without the collections, we would not be able to see what once lived free!
This book is broken down into an introduction followed by 11 chapters, these chapters look at a different species that is now extinct. The author introduces each animal and gives a brief history of it and also of how it was discovered and then what led to its extinction. He also includes his search for any remains that are to be found in museums and also tried to visit the spot where the animal lived or was last seen. There are further reading and other useful extras in the back of the book.
This is such a sad book to read in the respect that the creatures mentioned will never be seen again, but it also highlights the impact humans have had on the natural world. It is something that is very relevant in today’s society as more and more animals are being brought to the edge of extinction. Several species no longer exist in the 50 years that I have been around.
While it is a sad book as it deals with loss, it is also very addictive reading as I discovered more about the different birds, mammals and sea creatures that have been used in this book. The authors’ obvious love of the living world and his interest is quite infectious as I read, and, as I said I found it impossible to put it down until I had finished it.
It is a lovely presented book with some gorgeous colour plates in it. At just under 200 pages long it is one doesn’t take long to read. This is a book that readers of natural history would enjoy, it also crosses somewhat into history and is the authors account of his own journey. It is a book I would definitely recommend this book if you have an interest in nature.
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