Like the diversity it celebrates, Eric Dinerstein’s tour of The Kingdom of Rarities (Island Press, $24.99) is many wonderful things at once. Dinerstein, World Wildlife Fund chief scientist, visited regions “where rarity is common,” traveling from Michigan and the Andes to the Himalayas and Hawaii as part of the organization’s efforts to nurture vulnerable wildlife; together these reports have the trajectory of a spiritual quest as Dinerstein realizes that “the global conservation crisis is ultimately a spiritual crisis in disguise.” This account is also a double adventure story, following scientists’ harrowing treks into mountains and rainforests as well as the struggles of the plants and animals themselves to survive climate change, industry, poachers, introduced species, and other threats. Approaching these sites as a rigorous scientist but also as someone who simply revels in the looks, sounds, smells, and colors of nature, Dinerstein vividly describes species you’ve likely never encountered—the kouprey, the golden langur, the silversword—and he makes you want to. Whether rare because of dwindling populations or because their range is naturally narrow, these creatures contribute much to the “gross national happiness,” as Bhutan puts it, of the world at large.
Politics and Prose Bookstore 202-364-1919 Hours and Locations