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A vibrant history of the modern conservation movement—told through the lives and ideas of the people who built it. In the late nineteenth century, as humans came to realize that our rapidly industrializing and globalizing societies were driving other animal species to extinction, a movement to protect and conserve them was born. In Beloved Beasts, acclaimed science journali A vibrant history of the modern conservation movement—told through the lives and ideas of the people who built it. In the late nineteenth century, as humans came to realize that our rapidly industrializing and globalizing societies were driving other animal species to extinction, a movement to protect and conserve them was born. In Beloved Beasts, acclaimed science journalist Michelle Nijhuis traces the movement’s history: from early battles to save charismatic species such as the American bison and bald eagle to today’s global effort to defend life on a larger scale. She describes the vital role of scientists and activists such as Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson as well as lesser-known figures in conservation history; she reveals the origins of vital organizations like the Audubon Society and the World Wildlife Fund; she explores current efforts to protect species such as the whooping crane and the black rhinoceros; and she confronts the darker side of conservation, long shadowed by racism and colonialism. As the destruction of other species continues and the effects of climate change escalate, Beloved Beasts charts the ways conservation is becoming a movement for the protection of all species—including our own.


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A vibrant history of the modern conservation movement—told through the lives and ideas of the people who built it. In the late nineteenth century, as humans came to realize that our rapidly industrializing and globalizing societies were driving other animal species to extinction, a movement to protect and conserve them was born. In Beloved Beasts, acclaimed science journali A vibrant history of the modern conservation movement—told through the lives and ideas of the people who built it. In the late nineteenth century, as humans came to realize that our rapidly industrializing and globalizing societies were driving other animal species to extinction, a movement to protect and conserve them was born. In Beloved Beasts, acclaimed science journalist Michelle Nijhuis traces the movement’s history: from early battles to save charismatic species such as the American bison and bald eagle to today’s global effort to defend life on a larger scale. She describes the vital role of scientists and activists such as Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson as well as lesser-known figures in conservation history; she reveals the origins of vital organizations like the Audubon Society and the World Wildlife Fund; she explores current efforts to protect species such as the whooping crane and the black rhinoceros; and she confronts the darker side of conservation, long shadowed by racism and colonialism. As the destruction of other species continues and the effects of climate change escalate, Beloved Beasts charts the ways conservation is becoming a movement for the protection of all species—including our own.

30 review for Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ben Goldfarb

    Honored to have blurbed this forthcoming book; here's what I wrote: Beloved Beasts is the definitive history of the conservation movement, in all its turbulent, passionate, problematic glory. Michelle Nijhuis shines a bright and unsparing light on environmentalism’s most influential hidden figures, and breathes new life into Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and other heroes you thought you knew. The centuries-long campaign to protect our fellow creatures is among the most dramatic stories in our own Honored to have blurbed this forthcoming book; here's what I wrote: Beloved Beasts is the definitive history of the conservation movement, in all its turbulent, passionate, problematic glory. Michelle Nijhuis shines a bright and unsparing light on environmentalism’s most influential hidden figures, and breathes new life into Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and other heroes you thought you knew. The centuries-long campaign to protect our fellow creatures is among the most dramatic stories in our own species’ history, and now it finally has the literary epic it deserves.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    4.5 rounded up Very interesting and informative.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    At first, I didn't really like this book. Its format is a little different from most nonfiction books I read. It leans more heavily into the narratives and it's organized about 30 pages per chapter. On the longer side for each story. As I pushed myself to read it though, I started to enjoy it more. I have not read many books specifically in the conservation biology genre. It seems that most books in the genre focus on one species to highlight, explain its evolutionary history, and the challenges At first, I didn't really like this book. Its format is a little different from most nonfiction books I read. It leans more heavily into the narratives and it's organized about 30 pages per chapter. On the longer side for each story. As I pushed myself to read it though, I started to enjoy it more. I have not read many books specifically in the conservation biology genre. It seems that most books in the genre focus on one species to highlight, explain its evolutionary history, and the challenges to the species. This book is basically the history of the conservation movement. I liked it because it's not an oft written about topic. Also, as I went on I began to understand why the author sectioned off her book as she did. Each book chapter serves to highlight important steps in the conservation movements from establishing the EPA, WWF, and Environmental Working Group (among others) to looking at different ideas in the movement like focusing on involving local communities in conservation. In other words, at first you think the book is a bit meandering and as you read through it you become more reflective on how it is organized. I think you do have to be in the mood to read longer narratives and chapters, but I think it is well worth your time. My favorite chapters were "The Eagle and the Whooping Crane" which focuses on Rachel Carson's contributions and 'The Professor and the Elixir of Life" which focuses on the Huxley family. I knew the Huxley family through TH Huxley aka "Darwin's bulldog", but had no idea what an impressive family he came from. There are a few poetic and interesting anecdotes splashed in there as well. The book also challenges you with some fascinating thought experiments and moral arguments that she leaves open-ended in the later chapters. Yes, there are a few duller chapters, but overall you really do get into the history of conservation as you go on. It's also neat to learn how thinking has evolved in conservation even among its pioneers and even now. If you are interested in the conservation movement, Nijhuis weaves an interesting yarn and you're probably bound to learn something.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melvyn

    An epic journey through time learning about the evolution of conservation This took me back to my Ecology, Evolution and Conservation classes at University, but interestingly covered some of the lesser known figures and moments in history in between the more notable ones. I really enjoyed discovering the transformation of the concept of conservation from the start of naming and classifying species, all the way to the modern notion of population biology. It delves very deep into the topics presen An epic journey through time learning about the evolution of conservation This took me back to my Ecology, Evolution and Conservation classes at University, but interestingly covered some of the lesser known figures and moments in history in between the more notable ones. I really enjoyed discovering the transformation of the concept of conservation from the start of naming and classifying species, all the way to the modern notion of population biology. It delves very deep into the topics presented, but they are told as short-stories to make each subject get the attention it deserves. I always find it fascinating to connect the dots between all these events happening through time that helped shape ideas and beliefs of today. It makes you wonder how this field will grow from here in the future.. I think the examples selected made perfect sense, and highlighted some of the major matters of debate such as “why protect an animal?”, “how does it affect us, humans?”, “are we really responsible for extinctions?”, or even “what actions can be taken?”. Highly recommend this book to give a good perspective on the current situation of biodiversity loss across the planet and how we got to this point, in a more educational, factual, and contextual narrative rather than from an eco-extremist point of view. Special thanks go to the netgalley team and the publishers for providing this ARC. I appreciate the opportunity to read it in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    BELOVED BEASTS is an excellent new book about the history of modern wildlife conservation. This is the book I wish I had read years ago! If you want to learn about the relationships between conservation biology, environmentalism, the animal rights movement, hunting, and other related disciplines, this is the book for you. And what about connections to women’s suffrage, Indigenous rights, and sustainable development? Or colonialism, racism, and eugenics? All that is here, too. Nijhuis packs a lot BELOVED BEASTS is an excellent new book about the history of modern wildlife conservation. This is the book I wish I had read years ago! If you want to learn about the relationships between conservation biology, environmentalism, the animal rights movement, hunting, and other related disciplines, this is the book for you. And what about connections to women’s suffrage, Indigenous rights, and sustainable development? Or colonialism, racism, and eugenics? All that is here, too. Nijhuis packs a lot in this book, so some topics get more attention than others, but she still manages to treat them with considerable nuance. If you know some conservation history there will be a lot of familiar characters and topics here, but it’s worthwhile reading anyway to get a better understanding of how they are all woven together. There is a focus on terrestrial wildlife and on North American wildlife management, but there are discussions of international conservation movements and some good examples from Africa as well. What I think may be the most valuable part of this book is where Nijhuis considers well-known frameworks and concepts in conservation—from the Tragedy of the Commons to trophy hunting, protected areas, and endangered species management—and asks whether they are useful to carry forward into the next generation of conservation. An important question, indeed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I took my time reading this book because it is weighty, and dense, in the topic more so than prose. It is not a light or easy read, but it is important and fascinating. I found myself wanting to sit with and think about so many different situations from this book, especially as I saw local Nature groups arguing over the intersection of hunting and conservation, or the impact of environmental regulations on various communities. I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the history I took my time reading this book because it is weighty, and dense, in the topic more so than prose. It is not a light or easy read, but it is important and fascinating. I found myself wanting to sit with and think about so many different situations from this book, especially as I saw local Nature groups arguing over the intersection of hunting and conservation, or the impact of environmental regulations on various communities. I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of conservation, which should be everyone. Everyone should be interested in its future, and we cannot fully grasp how to handle the future without significant knowledge of the past. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I really enjoyed this book, it covers a lot of the (mostly) western history of conservation. Even working in ecology/biology/conservation there was a lot I did not know. I wish it was longer (the size of the book is misleading as the last 70 pages are all notes and sourced) and more in depth, but I suppose it is difficult to cover an entire history. I particularly thought it was important that the author did not gloss over the problematic ideas of many early conservationists. If we are going to I really enjoyed this book, it covers a lot of the (mostly) western history of conservation. Even working in ecology/biology/conservation there was a lot I did not know. I wish it was longer (the size of the book is misleading as the last 70 pages are all notes and sourced) and more in depth, but I suppose it is difficult to cover an entire history. I particularly thought it was important that the author did not gloss over the problematic ideas of many early conservationists. If we are going to move forward and make conservation more inclusive we need to reckon with the problematic beliefs of the (mostly) men who founded the discipline. The only slight negative is that I thought the last two or so chapters were a bit all over the place and jumped around too quickly.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dr G

    This is a must read for anyone concerned with nature, animal conservation and the world. A realistic and unvarnished history of the conservation heroes and groups and how to really make a difference.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ula Tardigrade

    In the times of environmental decline, global warming, and zoonotic pandemic, it is easy to despair. Now more than ever we need some good news and a bit of optimism. And here comes to the rescue this book. Michelle Nijhuis recalls many of the most famous success stories in the history of conservation. It is heartwarming to read that despite experiences of similar feelings of despair, our predecessors managed to change the world in positive ways. We still have bisons and whooping cranes, after al In the times of environmental decline, global warming, and zoonotic pandemic, it is easy to despair. Now more than ever we need some good news and a bit of optimism. And here comes to the rescue this book. Michelle Nijhuis recalls many of the most famous success stories in the history of conservation. It is heartwarming to read that despite experiences of similar feelings of despair, our predecessors managed to change the world in positive ways. We still have bisons and whooping cranes, after all! It is a very engaging and interesting read. I especially appreciate including stories of brave and stubborn women, who challenged the status quo and made a difference. The narrator’s voice in the audiobook version can at first appear as a little generic, but you stop noticing that after a few minutes, and her good diction is really important because of many Latin terms and names in the book. Thanks to the publisher, Melville House Publishing, and NetGalley for the advance copy of this audiobook.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Really a great book. I can’t remember as many times that I’d wished I had a pencil nearby to highlight a passage. Not just quotes, but themes. Many will pick up on how it is composed of short biographies on the leaders of conservation and environmentalism, but what I most admired (& enjoyed) was the somewhat balance. Yes, I’d tend to prefer human over other species, this book reminds us of the need for discourse, conversation, understanding the “other side”... all things the current US society i Really a great book. I can’t remember as many times that I’d wished I had a pencil nearby to highlight a passage. Not just quotes, but themes. Many will pick up on how it is composed of short biographies on the leaders of conservation and environmentalism, but what I most admired (& enjoyed) was the somewhat balance. Yes, I’d tend to prefer human over other species, this book reminds us of the need for discourse, conversation, understanding the “other side”... all things the current US society is devoid of right now. “Love of other species is fostered by individual connections between humans and their fellow animals; the determination to prevent extinction- and protect abundance- is the desire to reduce suffering, multiplied.” Substitute race (or any other variable) and this is timely in ways we may not realize.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peter A

    This story tracks the development of conservation biology through individuals, their ideas and their actions. It also presents the competing forces that began the process of conservation, to preserve enough of an animal to sustain hunting versus to save animals for their intrinsic value to the ecosystem. The book makes clear the significant contributions to thought provided by Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson, although Carson thought Leopold’s hunting was unacceptable. There are many other people This story tracks the development of conservation biology through individuals, their ideas and their actions. It also presents the competing forces that began the process of conservation, to preserve enough of an animal to sustain hunting versus to save animals for their intrinsic value to the ecosystem. The book makes clear the significant contributions to thought provided by Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson, although Carson thought Leopold’s hunting was unacceptable. There are many other people the author introduces in the book, such as William Temple Hornaday, a great game hunter who later championed saving the buffalo; Rosalie Edge, who challenged the Audubon Society to take a stance against destruction of birds; the role of Stewart Udall as Secretary of the Interior in promoting the Endangered Species Act; Garth Owen-Smith who pioneered community conservation in parts of Africa, given community residents means and responsibility to save “their” animals; the Huxley brothers, Julian and Aldous, Julian who was the first director of the UNESCO and a founding member of the World Wildlife Fund; and many others. It also traces the evolution of thinking that led to conservation biology, articulate early by Michael Soulé, and its continued evolution. While often started by individual species, it has now involved to the broader understanding of species in the landscape, and ultimately the people in the landscape as well. The author refers frequently to Aldo Leopold’s article “Land Ethic,” the last article in my copy of “A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There.” She draws on Leopold’s statements: “an individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts” (p203 Sand County); and “the land ethic simply enlarged the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plats and animals, or collectively: the land.… In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.” (p204 Sand County). The author’s writing engages the reader, especially when she talks about the people involved. I applaud the author for also tracing and weaving together the underlying thoughts that these individuals brought and the challenges we still face as a society. [Note, I lost some steam at the end of the book, which could have been me. But in writing up these notes, I am impressed with the effort.] In short, an excellent account of the people, actions, and ideas that have shaped and continue to shape human’s role as part of a planetary conservation of our bio and ecosphere. We should recall the words of Aldo Leopold, “That the situation is hopeless should not prevent us from doing our best.” Aldo Leopold (p 9). If we take action and do our best, the situation may not be hopeless. FB: A engaging and excellent account of the people, actions, and ideas that have shaped and continue to shape human’s role as part of a planetary conservation of our bio and ecosphere. A valuable contribution and tribute to all those who have gone before and are currently engaged for all of us.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Comfort Me With Nature

    Let’s just get to the punchline: This will likely be on my shortlist of top books for 2021. I suspect you will feel the same after reading it. Michelle Nijhuis crafts a tightly woven narrative depicting influential events in the lives of individual contributors to the modern conservation movement. This, however, is no sugar-coated idolization. Nijhuis doesn’t shy away from the significant character flaws of her subjects. She lays it out there making the accounts all the more believable. It is a Let’s just get to the punchline: This will likely be on my shortlist of top books for 2021. I suspect you will feel the same after reading it. Michelle Nijhuis crafts a tightly woven narrative depicting influential events in the lives of individual contributors to the modern conservation movement. This, however, is no sugar-coated idolization. Nijhuis doesn’t shy away from the significant character flaws of her subjects. She lays it out there making the accounts all the more believable. It is a wonder that any progress was made in spite of the blights of racism, colonialism, and greed. Beginning with Carl Linnaeus and his classification system, the book paces through key political decisions and the establishment of high-profile enviro-focused organizations, wrapping up at today’s concentration on sustainability and community-based projects. Each chapter offers a glimpse at the conservationists’ influences and thought processes. Aldo Leopold, for example, “…was curious about other species, but was fascinated by the relationships among them.” This became the basis for his body of work. Elinor Ostrom, typically recognized for her work in economics, learned much by observing how community-led environmental resource management systems functioned, and the complex structures that guided their successful operation. Some of these systems were centuries old, yet fair and well-functioning. In her closing thoughts, Nijhuis reminds us that the issues we face are indeed complex. We need to get comfortable with the complexity of the necessary responses to the ongoing loss of biodiversity. She rightly states that we can imagine the futures we don’t want. Let’s avoid them and let’s do better. Nijhuis is a science journalist, trained in biology, whose work has appeared in National Geographic, the New Yorker, and she is currently a project editor at the Atlantic. She specializes in stories about conservation and global change. The book includes some photos and illustrations that help the reader visualize the context of the accompanying text. Why you should not miss this one: * even if you know something about the subject matter, there are many new substantive details * the message is important, but the delivery is not heavy-handed * the movement’s history and the relationships between the conservationists are interesting in their own right Thanks to NetGalley, W. W. Norton & Company, and the author, Michelle Nijhuis, for the opportunity to read a digital copy in exchange for this review. #NetGalley #BelovedBeasts If you like what you've read here, check out my blog at www.comfortmewithnature.com Thanks for reading!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

    A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. - Aldo Leopold The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction. - Rachel Carson Conservation is, I think (echoing my intellectual precursors above), a noble and ethical thing, and I might be forgiven for assuming that its founders and its history would be similar A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. - Aldo Leopold The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction. - Rachel Carson Conservation is, I think (echoing my intellectual precursors above), a noble and ethical thing, and I might be forgiven for assuming that its founders and its history would be similar (i.e. noble, ethical). In reality, as this eye-opening book demonstrates, no such generalizations can be made. As Nijhuis herself says, “The story of modern species conservation is full of people who did the wrong things for the right reasons, and the right things for the wrong reasons.” One of these "wrong reasons" that pops up again and again in the history of conservation is the reason of "being a racist." From the preservation of actually-endangered bison acting as some sort of stand in to the preservation of the allegedly-endangered archetypical white outdoorsman, to prominent environmentalist William Temple Hornaday exhibiting a Mbuti man at the Bronx Zoo, to the fact that so many conservationists were eugenicists. It was both fascinating and horrifying to learn about this aspect of conservation history. And while you have the modern conservation movement being largely started by rich men so that they could keep hunting the animals that they wanted to, there are also stories like that of Rachel Carson taking on Big Pesticide, or of citizens of developing nations forging out their own paths to conservation in the wake of colonialism. Nijhuis does a really good job of highlighting the contradictions that make up the story of conservationism by focusing on its diverse cast of characters, each with their own contradictions. I really liked this book, and I think you would too. :)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Villarreal

    * I received an audio ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review * Beloved Beasts is a somewhat in-depth exploration of the field of conservation and the key players who contributed to its shaping. We follow these players - both notable and more obscure - as they tackle conservation issues while exploring their personal agendas that fueled their actions. Nijhuis provides a very personal view into the psyche of these people and does not shy away from pointing out their r * I received an audio ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review * Beloved Beasts is a somewhat in-depth exploration of the field of conservation and the key players who contributed to its shaping. We follow these players - both notable and more obscure - as they tackle conservation issues while exploring their personal agendas that fueled their actions. Nijhuis provides a very personal view into the psyche of these people and does not shy away from pointing out their racist, nationalist and straight up hypocritical principles. As a grad student studying conservation, this is something I have never seen tackled in other books on the birth of conservation and it brings some much needed and valuable insight to how the field has been shaped and ways in which we need to reframe it moving forward. Furthermore, by using case studies of well known and loved animals such as bison and rhinos, Nijhuis keeps the reader engaged and makes this book accessible and enjoyable for the masses. By far my favorite chapter was about community conservation and how we can decolonize the field while giving peoples the power to support their communities and also their animal neighbors. It also talks about complex issues such as trophy hunting that outsiders pretty unanimously oppose (myself included) yet the community and the animals can actually benefit from. It really made me step back and rethink my assumptions about some conservation issues that are clearly not as straightforward as they first seem. Overall, I enjoyed the narrator and I think she did a great job. The author clearly did her research and brought to light many details about the field of conservation that I believe are important in framing where we go from here. Much of this book is depressing but I think there are also moments of hope in learning about the people and organizations tackling conservation and extinction. However, it is also clear that a few devoted individuals cannot do it alone and this book certainly exposed some of the cracks in our fundamental views on conservation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Beloved Beasts is a definitive modern survey course of the conservation movement and the players, both well known and lesser known who have shaped and guided our stewardship of the planet and our fellow creatures presented by Michelle Nijhuis. Due out 9th March 2021 from W.W. Norton & co, it's an information dense 352 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. The author has a flowing journalistic voice with a no-nonsense accessib Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Beloved Beasts is a definitive modern survey course of the conservation movement and the players, both well known and lesser known who have shaped and guided our stewardship of the planet and our fellow creatures presented by Michelle Nijhuis. Due out 9th March 2021 from W.W. Norton & co, it's an information dense 352 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. The author has a flowing journalistic voice with a no-nonsense accessible layman-friendly prose. The writing is readable and understandable. She doesn't sugar coat the facts or the realities, including the profiles of the conservationists she examines. The chapters follow a roughly chronological timeline and the thread which weaves them together is species conservation. The whole is punctuated throughout with illustrations drawn from media, history, and the arts. The chapter notes alone provided hours of further exploratory reading, along with the bibliography (usefully arranged by chapter relevance). This would make a superlative choice for public library acquisition, gift giving, or home library, as well as a good support text for conservation, biology, ethics, and allied studies courses. One of my strongest reads so far in 2021. Five stars. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bryn

    This is such a lovely book. Full disclosure: I'm friends with Michelle. She's also an incredibly gifted storyteller who manages to weave together multiple histories about the birth of the conservation movement, from Montana to New York to Namibia, with rich details about the historical figures who were sometimes maddeningly and deeply flawed, but ultimately inspiring. Despite the intensely felt reporting of all that we've lost, this is a very hopeful book, and the prose is often breathtaking. On This is such a lovely book. Full disclosure: I'm friends with Michelle. She's also an incredibly gifted storyteller who manages to weave together multiple histories about the birth of the conservation movement, from Montana to New York to Namibia, with rich details about the historical figures who were sometimes maddeningly and deeply flawed, but ultimately inspiring. Despite the intensely felt reporting of all that we've lost, this is a very hopeful book, and the prose is often breathtaking. One story flows into and builds upon another, creating a moving portrait of the bison and hawks and wolves and rhinos and frogs and other animals that we pushed to the brink, along with the landscapes they inhabited. Not all of them made it. But given our "inescapable and inescapably complex" relationships with the rest of nature, the book makes a powerful argument for the necessity of continuing to do what we can to preserve life in all of its complex, messy, and interconnected forms, for the betterment of all. This is book that will stay with you - a beautiful and moving chronicle of life and death and an inspiring call for change.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aly

    Being interested in and passionate about conservation has become "hip" in recent years, but it wasn't always such an easy thing to support. Being a biologist and physiologist by training, I thought I knew the basic nuts & bolts of the conservation movement. Boy howdy, was I wrong! This book was a fascinating look into the history of human interactions with our fellow animals and environment. Should a national forest have legal rights? The answer is yes and Michelle will tell you why. I appreciat Being interested in and passionate about conservation has become "hip" in recent years, but it wasn't always such an easy thing to support. Being a biologist and physiologist by training, I thought I knew the basic nuts & bolts of the conservation movement. Boy howdy, was I wrong! This book was a fascinating look into the history of human interactions with our fellow animals and environment. Should a national forest have legal rights? The answer is yes and Michelle will tell you why. I appreciate the well-rounded history that Michelle provides, neither wholly demonizing those of the past nor putting historical heroes on pedestals. She doesn't shy away from the unsavory parts of the movement's history, often talking about the problematic and racist views of many considered to be heroes and fathers of modern conservation. The narrator, Christina Delaine, did a great job. I always appreciate the efforts to not only pronounce non-native words properly but also with the correct accent. I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook and have already recommended it many. I received a NetGalley ARC of this title in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    Nijhuis' writing worried me in the introduction as her lengthy sentences reflect a string of thoughts that was a bit tedious to follow. Once she gains momentum though, I began warming to her writing style. I really appreciate that Nijhuis maintains a diplomatic tone, culminating in a tempered call-to-action that is neither completely doomsday nor naively peachy. This book presented a well-balanced history of key figures and watershed moments in animal conservation history. Conservation is not all Nijhuis' writing worried me in the introduction as her lengthy sentences reflect a string of thoughts that was a bit tedious to follow. Once she gains momentum though, I began warming to her writing style. I really appreciate that Nijhuis maintains a diplomatic tone, culminating in a tempered call-to-action that is neither completely doomsday nor naively peachy. This book presented a well-balanced history of key figures and watershed moments in animal conservation history. Conservation is not all about hippies and vegans against hunters and politicians. Racism, colonialism, selfishness, and passion... conservation history is fraught with imperfect people with imperfect motivations. We're still learning and perhaps decades from now, future conservationists and historians will uncover our own imperfections as we strive to do what is right for nature and ourselves. This book is interesting and thought-provoking if you care about wildlife, nature, and species survival. Historical, biographical, and sensibly persuasive, Beloved Beasts presents the next evolutionary chapter in conservation strategy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Excellent and engaging book on conservation history. Even as a biology major in college and enthusiast now, I have barely heard of these people or their plights, and never in such rich contextual background. While the chapters roughly focus on different people and their contributions, the connections between them all are evident and the book reads as a cultural chronology as well, detailing the underpinning mindsets of conservation efforts. Really appreciate how Nijhuis never failed to integrate Excellent and engaging book on conservation history. Even as a biology major in college and enthusiast now, I have barely heard of these people or their plights, and never in such rich contextual background. While the chapters roughly focus on different people and their contributions, the connections between them all are evident and the book reads as a cultural chronology as well, detailing the underpinning mindsets of conservation efforts. Really appreciate how Nijhuis never failed to integrate the presence of machismo, racist, sexist, or colonialist attitudes that went into the wildlife conservation movement. I only wish there were about five more chapters (a sequel perhaps?) chronicling the current examples of societies and groups that have bucked the "tragedy of the commons", as I still remember learning about that 20 years ago and haven't really heard it addressed in any way that didn't support the depressing notion. Inspiring. Would highly recommend for any interested in the topic or to lovers of Between Man & Beast, The Story of the Dinosaurs in 25 Discoveries, or the Lost City of Z.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I appreciated the engaging recounting of major pivot points in conservation in the last 100 years or so, but I found that there were some major gaps that seemed glaring. First, the events and people mentioned centered on white, educated, and mostly monied people which, though a major part of history, does not comprise all of those who advocate for conservation. Missing was mention of indigenous peoples (other than their relationship to bison) and the efforts social movements and social action. F I appreciated the engaging recounting of major pivot points in conservation in the last 100 years or so, but I found that there were some major gaps that seemed glaring. First, the events and people mentioned centered on white, educated, and mostly monied people which, though a major part of history, does not comprise all of those who advocate for conservation. Missing was mention of indigenous peoples (other than their relationship to bison) and the efforts social movements and social action. Furthermore, though mention is made more than once that conservation efforts did not historically factor in people’s existing rights to land or the contrast between colonial conservation and native conservation, the link between conservation and environmental justice was tenuous at best. In the end, if you just want accessible insight to the contributions of people already written into history books, then this is a great read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    A history of the wildlife and nature conservation movement with a focus on America, covering key personalities like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson and Michael Soule among others, as well as key turning points like the Endangered Species Act, formation of the big NGOs and IUCN. From the naming of species by Linnaeus, through the early days of protection of wild game for hunting during the 19th century and the acceleration of the movement spurred by the tremendous impact of human development in the 2 A history of the wildlife and nature conservation movement with a focus on America, covering key personalities like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson and Michael Soule among others, as well as key turning points like the Endangered Species Act, formation of the big NGOs and IUCN. From the naming of species by Linnaeus, through the early days of protection of wild game for hunting during the 19th century and the acceleration of the movement spurred by the tremendous impact of human development in the 20th century, each chapter was well balanced and never got too bogged down in detail but managed to be engrossing. The trend of gradual enlightenment in humanity's attitude towards other species and the environment was clear to see, but will it be sufficient to halt the continuing massive slaughter of wildlife? This is the unanswered and perhaps unanswerable question at the end of the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Wow, I loved this book. Non-fiction usually takes a second to truly hook me into their narrative, but Nijhuis is so incredible at knowing precisely how to start the stories in this book right. They catch you from the jump, and then unfurl like a tapestry in front of you. Not to mention that, the book itself has this quality that I just loved: various chapters would be about other figures in conservation, and then previously discussed figures from earlier chapters would pop up in passing. It was Wow, I loved this book. Non-fiction usually takes a second to truly hook me into their narrative, but Nijhuis is so incredible at knowing precisely how to start the stories in this book right. They catch you from the jump, and then unfurl like a tapestry in front of you. Not to mention that, the book itself has this quality that I just loved: various chapters would be about other figures in conservation, and then previously discussed figures from earlier chapters would pop up in passing. It was this weave of all these important people, whether they knew each other, inspired each other, influenced their work, etc. The chapter specifically about the conservation groups in Africa is one of the most incredible stories I've read - it hast totally shifted my perspective. I really loved this.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    This book does a fantastic job of highlighting the sordid history of the modern conservation movement, highlighting the good and the bad that has been done in the name of preserving endangered species. The history of conservation is colored by good intentions and bad practice. One of the most important reckonings that scientists still face today is how their decisions have impacted marginalized groups across the globe. Of particular importance in this book is the emphasis on community-level cons This book does a fantastic job of highlighting the sordid history of the modern conservation movement, highlighting the good and the bad that has been done in the name of preserving endangered species. The history of conservation is colored by good intentions and bad practice. One of the most important reckonings that scientists still face today is how their decisions have impacted marginalized groups across the globe. Of particular importance in this book is the emphasis on community-level conservation, which I believe is one of the best ways to reconcile the needs of conservationists who are fighting the oncoming climate and biodiversity crises with the needs of marginalized, dispossessed, and disenfranchised groups fighting for equity.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    I received an audio ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased opinion. Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in the Age of Extinction tells the story of the modern conservation movement and those who have led the way. Nijhuis delves into questions such as how it is determined that an animal deserves to be protected as well as the consequences those protections have on the humans who live near them. This was an interesting read, and I would recommend it to those who are just learn I received an audio ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased opinion. Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in the Age of Extinction tells the story of the modern conservation movement and those who have led the way. Nijhuis delves into questions such as how it is determined that an animal deserves to be protected as well as the consequences those protections have on the humans who live near them. This was an interesting read, and I would recommend it to those who are just learning about conservation and want to know more. Overall, Delaine did a good job of narrating the audiobook, although it jarred me every time I heard her mention “hooping” cranes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Florence Millo

    I almost didn’t read this book thinking that it would tell the story of the extinction or near extinction of species dear to our hearts. I was traumatized as a child by the death of the dog in Old Yeller and continue to be traumatized by movies, books, and photos of sick, injured, or mistreated animals. Thus my hesitation. Fortunately, I skimmed the chapters and found that the book is more about the history of environmentalism, conservation, and conservation biology. There are a wealth of intere I almost didn’t read this book thinking that it would tell the story of the extinction or near extinction of species dear to our hearts. I was traumatized as a child by the death of the dog in Old Yeller and continue to be traumatized by movies, books, and photos of sick, injured, or mistreated animals. Thus my hesitation. Fortunately, I skimmed the chapters and found that the book is more about the history of environmentalism, conservation, and conservation biology. There are a wealth of interesting people working in various times and locations to protect life in its abundance on earth. A good read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chaitra

    I wanted to love this book more than I did. Maybe I would have if I wasn't listening to it, but reading. Maybe. There's also the mismatch between what I expected and what was in it, which is obviously my fault. The stories of the scientists/lay people who made a difference and the lives they might be saving (and the other lives they might be squelching - because these were fallible people) were great, but it wasn't really what I was expecting. I'll give the physical book another go, preferably w I wanted to love this book more than I did. Maybe I would have if I wasn't listening to it, but reading. Maybe. There's also the mismatch between what I expected and what was in it, which is obviously my fault. The stories of the scientists/lay people who made a difference and the lives they might be saving (and the other lives they might be squelching - because these were fallible people) were great, but it wasn't really what I was expecting. I'll give the physical book another go, preferably when my son is looking over my shoulder, now that I know what's in the book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    This is a history of conservation using short biographies of scientists and activists beginning in the late 1800s until today. When I began reading the book I was somewhat disappointed as I expected it to be more specific to animals in peril. Soon, I was interested in the works and lives of the people written about and the complexity of the subject. Not having a background in the conservation movement, I found this book both educational and captivating. It is very well written and I recommend it This is a history of conservation using short biographies of scientists and activists beginning in the late 1800s until today. When I began reading the book I was somewhat disappointed as I expected it to be more specific to animals in peril. Soon, I was interested in the works and lives of the people written about and the complexity of the subject. Not having a background in the conservation movement, I found this book both educational and captivating. It is very well written and I recommend it highly. Thank you to Goodreads Giveaways and W.W. Norton Publishing for the ARC.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Betsy Quammen

    Michelle Nijhuis does a brilliant job retelling the history of conservation, calling out racism and despicable actions (the heartbreaking story of Ota Benga), while also recounting acts of courage (Rosalie Edge's campaign against hunting culture at the early Audubon Society.) This book is absolutely recommended for anyone interested in American history, the American preservation/environmental movement, and endangered species. It is also a must read for everyone in the conservation field. Actuall Michelle Nijhuis does a brilliant job retelling the history of conservation, calling out racism and despicable actions (the heartbreaking story of Ota Benga), while also recounting acts of courage (Rosalie Edge's campaign against hunting culture at the early Audubon Society.) This book is absolutely recommended for anyone interested in American history, the American preservation/environmental movement, and endangered species. It is also a must read for everyone in the conservation field. Actually, this rich collection of stories told beautifully by Nijhuis is a wonderful book for everyone!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    a really enjoyable book that is a sort of survey of conservationists. The one thing that disturbed n=me about it was the author's claim that Teddy Roosevelt was saving the land for white people only. He was an imperialist and war monger, but also a man who tried hard to do what was right. He had Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner, and, despite some sketchy comments about native americans, worked hard with the Bureau of Indian affairs to try to get them a fair deal. I don't think a really enjoyable book that is a sort of survey of conservationists. The one thing that disturbed n=me about it was the author's claim that Teddy Roosevelt was saving the land for white people only. He was an imperialist and war monger, but also a man who tried hard to do what was right. He had Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner, and, despite some sketchy comments about native americans, worked hard with the Bureau of Indian affairs to try to get them a fair deal. I don't think it was a fair assessment of the man.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ivana

    A lovely and yet sad book. At the bottom of all this is the sad fact that our species sees itself on the outside of the natural world, somehow better or more valuable than other species that share this planet with us, and all our conservation efforts are attempts to save species while we fail to see that everything is connected, that we should living within the nature that gave us life, in mutualism with all other species on earth.

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