6 x 9
Two 8-page color inserts, 32 photos, 9 illustrations
6 x 9
Two 8-page color inserts, 32 photos, 9 illustrations
As one of the world’s leading field biologists, George Schaller has spent much of his life traversing wild and isolated places in his quest to understand and conserve threatened species—from mountain gorillas in the Virunga to pandas in the Wolong and snow leopards in the Himalaya. Throughout his celebrated career, Schaller has spent more time in Tibet than in any other part of the world, devoting more than thirty years to the wildlife, culture, and landscapes that captured his heart and continue to compel him to protect them.
Tibet Wild is Schaller’s account of three decades of exploration in the most remote stretches of Tibet: the wide, sweeping rangelands of the Chang Tang and the hidden canyons and plunging ravines of the southeastern forests. As engaging as he is enlightening, Schaller illustrates the daily struggles of a field biologist trying to traverse the impenetrable Chang Tang, discover the calving grounds of the chiru or Tibetan antelope, and understand the movements of the enigmatic snow leopard.
As changes in the region accelerated over the years, with more roads, homes, and grazing livestock, Schaller watched the clash between wildlife and people become more common—and more destructive. Thus what began as a purely scientific endeavor became a mission: to work with local communities, regional leaders, and national governments to protect the unique ecological richness and culture of the Tibetan Plateau.
Whether tracking brown bears, penning fables about the tiny pika, or promoting a conservation preserve that spans the borders of four nations, Schaller has pursued his goal with a persistence and good humor that will inform and charm readers. Tibet Wild is an intimate journey through the changing wilderness of Tibet, guided by the careful gaze and unwavering passion of a life-long naturalist.
"In Tibet Wild, he not only offers a case study in protecting an obscure mammal on tricky political turf but also reflects on his previous projects, many of which resulted in protected, self-sustaining populations of once-imperiled species...[It] has a valedictory quality. Mr. Schaller revisits old journals and quotes from earlier works such as The Last Panda. During freezing cold nights in his field tent, he tries to puzzle out whether his youthful experience of war and subsequent immigration to the United States as an enemy alien helped to form his reticent character, his distaste for crowds, technology and weapons, his wanderlust, and his attraction to stark places like the Chang Tang. Distinguished by these reflections, Tibet Wild would be a fine introduction to Mr. Schaller's writing and remarkably accomplished life for new readers."
Wall Street Journal
"To protect unspoiled places, Schaller must shed his natural reticence to negotiate with his fellow human beings. In the case of the high steppes, these include families putting out poison for animals wrongly perceived as pests, herders trading horses for motorcycles and, more threatening, gold miners. He's willing to sit down and educate people, sometimes even to compromise, but he has no sympathy for those who get a charge out of reducing the number of his beloved animals one at a time. Late in Tibet Wild, Schaller briefly shares a camp with a foreign hunter who's grousing that he had to wait three whole days to get his final shot at a Marco Polo ram, whose massive curved horns are a coveted trophy. Schaller, the man who spent 17 years trying to find the chiru's calving ground, has little patience for such behavior. 'Hunting is not a sport,' he notes. 'Animals don't just lose, they die.'"
New York Times
"Poignant …Tibet Wild…lays out an open-ended account of the struggle to save wild places and their inhabitants. I can't recall any book that has made me care as much or think harder about how we might do that."
"For the past three decades his studies have been largely confined to mysterious animals most people have never heard of. A summing up in his 80th year appears now, with helpful maps and 32 color photographs, in Tibet Wild."
"Schaller is a guiding light in global wildlife conservation. In this richly textured chronicle of five decades of world travels, he combines a provocative apologia with unforgettable tales of his encounters with gorillas, tigers, pandas, snow leopards, and jaguars. ... Schaller's forthright, enlightening book of discovery reseeds our appreciation for the wonders of the planet, perception of the 'heavy human hand on the landscape,' and recognition of the need for a global 'conservation ethic.'"
"His descriptions...are particularly evocative, and give the lie to notions of glamour in field biology....fascinating"
BBC Wildlife Magazine
"Tibet Wild is one of Schaller's best works, combining wild adventure with insightful recommendations for people and nature. And it demonstrates why 'old-fashioned' field biology is still an essential part of conservation, and of science."
The Nature Conservancy's Cool Green Science blog
"Tibet Wild sings with Schaller's tenacity, patience, and passion"
"With winter coming on, I enthusiastically recommend adding Tibet Wild to your reading list."
"Tibet Wild is a finely crafted memoir detailing George B. Schaller's travels and conservation projects in the rugged Tibetan Plateau."
"Tibet Wild is a fascinating book of a little known part of the world. It should be read by anyone interested in the Tibetan Plateau. Field biologists, range ecologists, pastoral development specialists, tourists and even Tibetan monks will all find something of interest in Schaller's evocative writing."
"This book may be his swan song: the last of the classic Western naturalists travels to perhaps the last place on earth inhabited but not controlled by humans....Beautifully written, the book offers breathtaking natural history, and the human side of daily life in zones we only know from war and conflict (Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Tibet-China border)....Readers may find hope in Schaller's example of a life dedicated to saving a planet where chiru, tiny rabbits, snow leopards, and human beings of every race, gender, and nation are all animals working to survive."
Reference & Research Book News
"He discusses his efforts to use his knowledge of natural history to educate local populations on how to promote effective conservation measures, and also addresses the political and economic realities that complicate doing so. Readers will come away with a firsthand understanding of the rewarding career of a modern conservationist."
"Through his work and the work of other dedicated conservationists in Asia, the chiru has made a comeback. Schaller's single-minded dedication to wildlife preservation in Chang Tang and around the world is genuinely inspiring."
"George Schaller's stature as a great naturalist and conservation scientist, his unique and intimate familiarity with his subject, and his excellent prose style together make Tibet Wild a classic."
E.O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
"This is a remarkably close-up and revealing story from the world's top field scientist, the chronicler of the lives of pandas, gorillas and lions. In Tibet Wild, Schaller addresses such little known creatures as Marco Polo sheep, snow leopards, chiru antelope, horse-like kiang and the peoples that live with them. He writes penetratingly, but with a grace and sensitivity that touches the heart."
William Conway, Senior Conservationist, Wildlife Conservation Society
"This is a wonderful and moving account of thirty years of scientific exploration and wildlife conservation on the Tibetan Plateau by one of the world's foremost scholars and ecological activists. It is a great read for scholars and laymen alike that lets the reader experience what it is like to study wildlife in the remotest parts of the Roof of the World."
Melvyn C. Goldstein, Ph.D., J.R. Harkness Professor & Director, Center for Research on Tibet, Case Western Reserve Univ.
"This celebrated naturalist, recalling in his senior years how he has often been so uncomfortable in his travels across wild Tibet, does indeed set a high example for spirited conservation for the next century, the next millennium."
"Schaller does a great job of showing how to take conservation beyond research by involving local people, governments, and Buddhist monasteries."
Natural Areas Journal
Chapter 1: A Covenant with Chiru
Chapter 2: Riddle of the Calving Ground
Chapter 3: The Longest Walk
Chapter 4: A Deadly Fashion
Chapter 5: A Gift to the Spirit
Chapter 6: The Good Pika
Chapter 7: Chang Tang Traverse
Chapter 8: Feral Naturalist
Chapter 9: Two Mountains and a River
Chapter 10: Into the Hidden Land
Chapter 11: Tibetan Wild Sheep Scandal
Chapter 12: Wild Icon of the Pamirs
Chapter 13: A Bear in the House
Chapter 14: The Snow Leopard
Summer is here! Whether that means slathering on the sunscreen or seeking refuge from the heat in an air conditioned room, this season means one thing for all bookworms: summer reading lists. To help get yours started, our staff have shared their favorite Island Press books, past and present. Check out our recommendations, and share your favorite Island Press summer read in the comments below.
In Nature's Allies, Larry Nielson shares eight riveting biographies of great conservationists. His profiles show how these diverse leaders—including a Native American who was arrested more than 50 times and the first African woman and environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize—brought about extraordinary change for the environment. These stories are powerful, engaging reads for anyone who wants to be inspired to make a difference. But you don't have to take Island Press' word for it...Nature's Allies was also recently recommended as a New York Public Library staff pick.
In this remarkable blend of history, science, and personal observation, acclaimed author Wade Davis tells the story of America’s Nile, how it once flowed freely and how human intervention has left it near exhaustion. A beautifully told story of historical adventue and natural beauty, River Notes is a fascinating journey down the river and through mankind's complicated and destructive relationship with one of its greatest natural resources. Kyler Geoffroy, Online Marketing Manager of the Urban Resilience Project, says this book is the perfect summer read because "we need to stop and appreciate America’s most iconic waterway now more than ever."
As Vice President and Executive Editor Heather Boyer says, "there's no better time than summer to think about how to maintain the increase in interest in urban biking (and try to retain any funding for it in infrastructure budget)." A follow-up to his "fascinating" Roads Were Not Built for Cars, Bike Boom picks up where that story left off: immersing readers in cycling advocacy from 1906 to the doldrums of the 1980s. It is an extensively researched, at times humorous journey through time, flush with optimism for what could be the next, greatest bike boom of all.
Bugs and germs are big problems—and they’re evolving. But in the fight to protect our food and health, bugs and germs may also be part of the solution. Natural Defense by Emily Monosson is the first book to bring readers into this exciting new world, highlighting cutting-edge solutions such as pheromones that send crop-destroying moths into a misguided sexual frenzy, and proteins that promise targed destruction of infectious bacteria. Brooke Borel, contributing editor at Popular Science had this to say about the book: "With deft prose and fascinating anecdotes, Monosson’s survey of the latest scientific research leaves us in awe of humankind’s ingenuity."
If summer is the time for exploring neighborhood creeks and streams, Immersion by Abbie Gascho Landis is the summer read for you. A breathtaking journey into the world of freshwater mussels, Immersion explores the hidden lives of mussels in our rivers and streams, and asks whether our capacity to love these alien creatures can power us to protect freshwater for humans and nature alike. Blending science with artful storytelling, Immersion takes readers from perilous river surveys and dry riverbeds to laboratories where endangered mussels are raised one precious life at a time. Production Assistant Elise Ricotta says this is the perfect book to read at the beach or lake.
Associate Editor and Rights Manager Rebecca Bright picked up Seeking the Sacred Raven while she was preparing for an interview to intern at Island Press (we won't say how many years ago). The book tells the story of Hawaii's 'Alla, a member of the raven family that once flourished on the islands and now survives only in captivity. Mark Jerome Walters chronicles the history of the birds' interactions with humans throughout the centuries, painting a picture of one species' decline that resonates today, as many others face the same fate. The first Island Press book she ever read, Rebecca found the book to be "both fascinating and heartbreaking."
As you fire up the grill for summer barbeques and head to your local farmer's market, consider reading Kitchen Literacy by Ann Vileisis, a sensory-rich journey through two hundred years of making dinner. From eighteenth-century gardens and historic cookbooks to calculated advertising campaigns and sleek supermarket aisles, Vileisis chronicles profound changes in how Americans have shopped, cooked, and thought about their food for five generations. Revealing how knowledge of our food has been lost and how it might now be regained, Kitchen Literacy promises to make us think differently about what we eat.
Water is for Fighting Over by John Fleck makes for perfect reading while sitting by the pool, river, or ocean. In it, he offers a unique, fresh perspective on the catastrophe narrative of the West, showcasing how this region is less of a battlefield and more of a place where individuals and communities find common ground amid a changing geography. This book shows that even in the depths of the worst droughts, positive solution stories can still be found. Vice President and Director of Marketing & Sales Julie Marshall likes "John’s thoughtful and balanced approach to the issue. I also really appreciate the fact he has such deep knowledge based on his many years covering the issues in the west. It gives him great credibility but also makes his explanations of the issues and solutions seem solid based on 'all the facts' and not just a superficial assessment."
While walking around and enjoying the summer sunshine, don't forget to pack Within Walking Distance by Philip Langdon. In it, he takes an in-depth look at six walkable communities—and the citizens, public officials, and planners who are making them satisfying places to live. Civil Engineering said "Within Walking Distance shines...a warm, personal, and heartening depiction of our power to shape our communities in a positive way when we set our minds to it."
Hungry for adventure? Tibet Wild is George B. Schaller's account of three decades of exploration in the most remote stretches of Tibet: the wide, sweeping rangelands of the Chang Tang and the hidden canyons and plunging ravines of the southeastern forests. Throughout, it is an intimate journey through the changing wilderness of Tibet, guided by the careful gaze and unwavering passion of a life-long naturalist. Editor Courtney Lix loves the book because "it transports you to the wildest regions in Tibet, from describing the daily challenges of being a field biologist, to admiring breathtaking landscapes, and encounters with rare and beautiful creatures."
What are your top Island Press reads? Share them below, so others can add them to their summer reading lists.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.