Natural history & science

#870 A clear-eyed analysis of fear

Nerve: A Personal Journey Through the Science of Fear by Eva Holland Toronto: Penguin Random House (Allen Lane), 2020 $32.95 / 9780735237339 Reviewed by Theo Dombrowski * Editor’s note: The West Coast Book Prize Society announced on April 8, 2021, that Nerve: A Personal Journey Through the Science of Fear, by Eva Holland, has been shortlisted for…
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#860 Astronomy, psychiatry, reflection

Foxtrot: Notes from the Bear Cave by Jaime Smith Victoria: FriesenPress, 2020 $13.99 / 9781525574726 Available from FriesenPress bookshop or Amazon Reviewed by Peter Ward * An autobiography may seek to explain, to persuade, to justify — or simply to recollect. Foxtrot does the latter and it’s richer for the choice. It’s a short book…
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#857 Oceans as sustainable commons

Vanishing Fish: Shifting Baselines and the Future of Global Fisheries by Daniel Pauly, with a foreword by Jennifer Jacquet Vancouver: Greystone, 2019 $34.95 / 9781771643986 Reviewed by Loys Maingon * …fish are in dire peril, and, if they are, then so are we. — Daniel Pauly (p. 24) In a remarkable collection of essays drawn…
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#819 Pandemics past and present

Epidemics and the Modern World by Mitchell L. Hammond Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2020 $54.95 / 9781487593735 Reviewed by Jody Decker * This textbook by a history professor at the University of Victoria, Mitchell Hammond, focuses on epidemics of infectious diseases which, he argues, have left the greatest impact on the modern world, even…
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#816 Walking through the pandemic

Treed: Walking in Canada’s Urban Forests by Ariel Gordon Hamilton, ON: Wolsak & Wynn, 2019 $20.00 / 9781928088752 Reviewed by Jaime Yard * It took me an inordinately long time to read Ariel Gordon’s Treed. This does not mean that it isn’t a good book. In truth, I think the pace may have been set…
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#790 Enter Douglas, Garry & Menzies

In Nature’s Realm: Early Naturalists Explore Vancouver Island by Michael Layland Victoria: Touchwood Editions, 2019 $40.00 / 9781771513067 * On March 2, 2020, it was announced that Michael Layland’s book, In Nature’s Realm: Early Naturalists Explore Vancouver Island (Victoria: Touchwood Editions, 2019) had won the 2020 Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for outstanding scholarly book on British…
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#757 Carry on, Sasquatch

The Making of Hominology: A Science Whose Time has Come by Dmitri Bayanov in association with Christopher Murphy, with a foreword by David Hancock and Jeff Meldrum Surrey: Hancock House Publishing, 2019 $19.95 / 9780888390110 Reviewed by John Gellard * Have you ever seen a Sasquatch? Have you heard one, or smelled one? Have you ever seen…
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#747 The mammoth in the room

Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics and Risks of De-Extinction by Britt Wray, with a foreword by George Church Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2019 $32.95 / 9781771644723 Review by Tom Koppel * Welcome to the brave new world of 21st century genetics and the quest by a few clusters of audacious scientists to bring back…
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#744 Bob McDonald leaves the planet

An Earthling’s Guide to Outer Space: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Black Holes, Dwarf Planets, Aliens, and More by Bob McDonald Toronto: Simon & Schuster Canada, 2019 $29.99 / 9781982106850 Reviewed by John Hutchings * Victoria-based Bob McDonald is a Canadian icon of science reporting and a catalyst of informed popular discussion. In…
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#728 West coast natural history tally

The Flora and Fauna of Coastal British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest by Collin Varner Victoria: Heritage House Publishing, 2018 $39.95 / 9781772030914 Reviewed by Loys Maingon * As many professional biologists involved in communicating the urgency of our environmental crisis are in the habit of pointing out, possibly the best thing that one can…
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#714 A naturalist on the North Pacific

John Scouler (c. 1804-1871) Scottish Naturalist: A Life, with Two Voyages by E. Charles Nelson Glasgow: Glasgow Natural History Society, 2014 £11.00 (U.K.) / 9780956529510 Reviewed by Robert M. Galois * Naturalists’ Networks and the Northwest Coast in the Early Nineteenth Century On 25 July, 1824, John Scouler, a young Scottish naturalist, boarded the Hudson’s…
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#709 The hidden network of nature

The Secret Wisdom of Nature: Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things — Stories from Science and Observation by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jill Billinghurst Vancouver: Greystone Books/ David Suzuki Institute, 2019 $29.95 / 978177164388 Reviewed by Loys Maingon * Most people are on the world, not in it — have no…
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#696 Handbook of west coast nature

A Year on the Wild Side: A West Coast Naturalist’s Almanac by Briony Penn Victoria: TouchWood Editions, 2019 (second edition; first published by TouchWood, 1997) $26.00 / 9781771512671 Reviewed by Luanne Armstrong * I love to walk and often when I do, I stop often and look under my feet, through the forest, into the…
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#693 Turning the tide on Galiano

Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate Changing Times by Catriona Sandilands (editor) Halfmoon Bay: Caitlin Press, 2019 $24.95 / 9781773860183 Reviewed by Theresa Kishkan * As I write this review, fires are raging in California and Australia, and Venice is experiencing the worst flooding in fifty years. (The Guardian newspaper reported that the Veneto’s regional council…
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#692 Fishes of the Salish Sea

Fishes of the Salish Sea (3 volumes) by Theodore Wells Pietsch and James Wilder Orr, illustrated by Joseph R. Tomelleri Victoria: Heritage House, 2019; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2019 $179.00 / 9781772032932 Reviewed by Colin Levings   * This book is an extraordinary addition to the natural history of the Salish Sea. Authors Theodore…
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#682 Nature as superorganism

The Hidden Life of Trees: The Illustrated Edition by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jill Billinghurst, with a foreword by Tim Flannery Vancouver: Greystone Books/ David Suzuki Institute, 2018 $45.00  / 9781771643481 Reviewed by Loys Maingon * At the dawn of the twentieth century, the Scottish-American naturalist John Muir prophetically summarized modern man’s dysfunctional relation to…
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#660 For the love of the North Pacific

The New Beachcomber’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest by J. Duane Sept Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing, 2019 $32.95 / 9781550178371 (first published in 1999 by Harbour as The Beachcomber’s Guide to Seashore Life in the Pacific Northwest; reprinted 2002; second edition 2009; third edition 2019) * Seaside Treasures: A Guidebook for Little Beachcombers by Sarah…
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#637 Coastal ranges & riddles

In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond: In Search of the Sasquatch by John Zada Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2019 $32.95 / 9781771645188 Reviewed by John Gellard * John Zada’s “Noble Beyond” is the Great Bear Rainforest, “the largest tract of intact coastal temperate rain forest in the world — one so rich and prolific that…
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