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The Reef: A Passionate History (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 20. Mai 2014

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“[Iain] McCalman has written an innovative history . . .His approach is at once episodic and kaleidoscopic . . . McCalman's own passion for the Reef informs the book throughout, whether in his engaging account of sailing through it in a replica of Cook's HMS Endeavour, or in his concluding laments for its environmental degradation . . . For a work about such a vast topic--big in scale, big in its implications for how we hold a planet in trust--The Reef is a compellingly intimate account of human interaction with this slice of nature.” ―David Armitage, Los Angeles Review of Books

“By the end of McCalman's transformative book, we feel the full force of this slow-motion emergency. In story after story of fascination and trepidation, in revelations and in requiems, this passionate history brings to life the Great Barrier Reef's magnificent mutability.” ―Rob Nixon, The New York Times Book Review

“Reefs, like their terrestrial counterparts, tropical rainforests, are increasingly threatened by human activity; some already exhibit a marked decline. Like rainforests, too, they show exceptional biodiversity, a characteristic which is increasingly valued as an index of the wellbeing of our planet. It is this decline that makes Iain McCalman's The Reef, on the discovery, history and future prospects of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, so timely. It is fascinating because of the wealth of information it contains on both familiar and unfamiliar topics.” ―Andrew Campbell, Times Literary Supplement

“A masterly biography of the Great Barrier Reef . . . Mr McCalman's sweeping and absorbing history is well timed.” ―The Economist

“Australia's Great Barrier Reef stretches for around 1,430 miles along the continent's northeast coast, encompassing an area roughly half the size of Texas. Those who have dived into its pristine reaches know firsthand that it is one of Earth's natural wonders--a coral world of exceptional beauty and diversity. Yet as Iain McCalman's "passionate history" of the reef makes clear, it is also a stage on which dreams, ambitions, and great human tragedies have been played out. He tells his story by chronicling lives that, either inadvertently or intentionally, have shaped our perception of the coralline labyrinth.” ―Tim Flannery, The New York Review of Books

“[An] ambitious, elegant narrative of the Great Barrier Reef and its remarkably drawn-out discovery.” ―Jennie Erin Smith, The Wall Street Journal

“Iain McCalman's The Reef, like its subject, builds slowly into beauty, offering an account of the Great Barrier Reef as it exists in culture, language and dream, as well as in marine biology.” ―Robert Macfarlane, The Observer (UK)

“McCalman's tone shifts from the boy's own adventure, scientific excitement and scamming of early encounters, to dizzying disaster-epic suspense. But never for a moment does his literary skill falter. His detailed explanation of marine science is a model of translation for the layman. And his respect for Indigenous people is a model of intercultural translation . . . He describes the Indigenous view of events without exoticising the individuals he talks to. Nostalgia permeates the book, for ancestral lands lost and for what we all might be losing now.” ―Miriam Cosic, The Guardian (UK)

“Splendid . . . [A] wonderful paean to the Great Barrier Reef.” ―David B. Williams, The Seattle Times

“An intimate exploration of the Great Barrier Reef . . . The Reef uncovers personal stories that weave together the biological evolution and human discovery of the Great Barrier Reef culminating in its current state--a World Heritage site in desperate need of protection.” ―The Inquirer and Mirror (Nantucket, MA)

“The Great Barrier Reef is both easily understood and awe-inspiring in this history of its discovery, exploitation and beauty.” ―Julia Jenkins, Shelf Awareness

“[Iain McCalman's] mission is to illuminate the reef's glorious complexity by recounting the stirring, wild, and surprising stories of fraught encounters between islanders and outsiders . . . [His] ‘passionate history' is a call to save this ‘fragile global wonder.'” ―Donna Seaman, Booklist

“McCalman loves the reef and fears for its future . . . [He] selects his subjects judiciously and writes with flair, creating a multifaceted portrait of one of the world's great wonders.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Combining engaging accounts of early explorers with discussion of current scientific findings and their implications . . . McCalman's book will be enjoyed by the general reader, students at the undergraduate level, those interested in the history of science, and travelers to this magnificent region.” ―Judith B. Barnett, Library Journal

“Brilliant, beautiful, a hymn to the past, present and increasingly uncertain future of one of the world's greatest treasures. The Reef is necessary reading for anyone who cares about the future of the ocean.” ―James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers

“The Great Wall of China is dwarfed to nothingness, along with everything else proud humans have built, by the minuscule polyps that fashioned the Great Barrier Reef. That living reef, the world's largest, is in desperate trouble, the victim of climate change and a melancholy legacy of carelessness, indifference, and greed. The Reef is more than a lament; it is a brilliant history of our long interaction with this precious feature of our world, weaving together coexistence, terror, exploration, exploitation, scientific curiosity, and love. Iain McCalman has a rare gift for conjuring up both famous and forgotten lives and for awakening our wonder.” ―Stephen Greenblatt, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

“Usually a subject of natural history, the Great Barrier Reef finally finds a place in a contradiction fundamental to the history of modernity: the desire to preserve nature while exploiting it for profit. With this book, Iain McCalman cements his reputation as one of the finest historians of our time.” ―Dipesh Chakrabarty, Professor of History, University of Chicago

“History doesn't get any more lively than this. A stylish, racing read, The Reef surprises with every turn of the page, investing one of the world's greatest natural structures with human drama. In almost cinematic episodes that veer from scientific epiphany to physical brutality, from the eighteenth century to our own conflicted age, Iain McCalman introduces an amazing cast of characters. In the process--and it's a very entertaining one--he creates an entirely new account of a natural marvel, couched in gripping historical narrative, both witty and rigorously scholarly, sweepingly grand and vividly detailed.” ―Philip Hoare, author of The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea

“The magnitude of the awesome Great Barrier Reef is matched here by Iain McCalman's deep exploration of its compelling history and colorful ecology. An important biography of a fragile place.” ―Katherine Harmon Courage, author of Octopus! The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea

“In The Reef, Iain McCalman artfully weaves scientific inquiry and historical rigor into the life stories of twenty individuals. As we experience this extraordinary place through their eyes, we come away informed and inspired.” ―Jim Toomey, creator of Sherman's Lagoon and executive director of Mission Blue

“No other historian I know brings together exploration, science, the environment, and strange experience with the erudition and the eloquence of Iain McCalman. The Reef is utterly absorbing as well as richly informative.” ―Nicholas Thomas, director and curator of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Iain McCalman is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a historian, a social scientist, and an explorer. He is the author of the award-winning Darwin's Armada, The Seven Ordeals of Count Cagliostro, and Radical Underworld. A professor of history at the University of Sydney, he has served as the president of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the director of the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University. McCalman has also been a historical consultant and narrator for documentaries on the BBC and ABC, and has been interviewed by Salon and the World Science Festival.


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22 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
important, insightful and a great pleasure to read 18. November 2013
Von Nigel Kirk - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition
‘The Reef’ is a vast system of geological, aquatic and biological systems with a complexity that defies description. How then to write about it? McCalman synthesizes the disparate aspects of the Great Barrier Reef into a lively topic by chronicling human associations with the reef through twelve stories. He commences with the disastrous discovery of the reef by Captain Cook. Then stories weave in contact with the aboriginal inhabitants, integrating conservation knowledge and lore and the confrontation, constantly misreported at the time, between European and aboriginal cultures. Each chapter offers insights about human encroachment onto the marine, climatic and ecological systems of this vast landscape. And each chapter monitors that window of conditions that allow the existence for this fragile entity. The closing story of Charlie Veron, “Darwin of the coral”, provides a warm yet scientifically incisive discussion of the reef’s current status and its future.

McCalman is an academic historian whose considerable abilities offer the reader a thoroughly researched and balanced account of the reef and its human associations. He assembles anecdote, history and passion into an enjoyable book. Yet the strength of this book, as with his previous book Darwin’s Armada, is his narrative ability to place the reader in the world of the beach comber, the naturalist and the scientist. You can smell the sea breeze. His account of the original indigenous stewards of the reef and of the comparable attempts of more recent Australians is balanced and informative.

This review is of the hard copy of this great book, I cannot comment on the Kindle adaptation.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Nice sketches of natural history and Australian interaction with the Reef 24. Dezember 2014
Von Montana Skyline - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Prospective readers should understand that this is neither a comprehensive history of the man's interaction with Great Barrier Reef nor a scientific exploration of the Reef. Rather, it is a nicely assembled and neatly written set of sketches, chronologically tracking a selection of interactions with the Reef that range from early (non-aboriginal) explorers and castaways to scientists and contemporary conservation activists. Along the way, McCalman provides some very nice descriptive writing and introduces us to a host of curious characters. Of course, the author has his favorites and points of view on topics ranging from misunderstanding of aboriginal inhabitants to climate change, and from near-saints to frauds and "hyena" politicians. It might be fair to say that the recent living fare better than the longer dead. Whether or not one shares McCalman's journalistic take (although he is a professional historian, this collection is more akin to high-quality journalism), it is an easy and rewarding read. If I don't quite share the enthusiasm of some rapturous reviews, I nevertheless enjoyed and learned from the book. I happily recommend it to anyone interested in a nice slice of Australian history laced with fascinating natural science.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Flotsam and Jetsam on the Great Reef 15. Oktober 2014
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition
This is not a history of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. As the author freely admits, this is a collection of biographical sketches or as the author would have it, "biograghical narratives" of twenty or so people who at one time another interacted with reef. Thus, this is really an old fashioned book in the line of books about the outcasts, adventurers and eccentrics who have washed up on pacific shores. The author is obviously a capable historian and the sketches are well written and well researched. There is an underlying current of science running through the book, but the scientific sections are the least interesting. The author does make a pitch for saving the reef, but this needs no argument: the reef is a beautiful natural monument and of course it should be protected. 0ddly, one of the curious (and usually unpleasant ) band of dissenters was a scientist who in 1925 claimed it's existence was the "greatest pity" for the people of
Queensland, Australia. This is an interesting and engaging book.
2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The story of the Great Barrier Reef presented as a series of biographies starting ... 3. Oktober 2014
Von Fred P. - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
The story of the Great Barrier Reef presented as a series of biographies starting with Cook’s 1770 initial encounter with the reef and Mathew Flinders’ circumnavigation through the reef in 1802-3. Cites the 1724 speculation by Peysonnel that the coral “flower” was actually “un insect” (an animal). After covering the benign interaction with aboriginals, we get the stories of several ship-wrecked Europeans adopted for various periods by natives. Either their positive experiences and strong bonds with adopted families are ignored (Morrill and Pelletier in the 1870’s) or they get blown up into dreadful stories of abuse and cannibalism (Eliza Fraser, 1830’s). Joseph Jukes serves as expedition artist when HMS Fly surveys the Torres Strait in 1842 and documents the gentility and amazing technology used by these mostly gentle people to subsist in a harsh environment. His Journal of the Surveying Voyage becomes the baseline document that Darwin references in his own reef studies. In 1849 the artist and linguist Brierly is there to rescue Barbara Thompson living with natives since a child, and patiently documents her life with the aborigines. William Kent in 1888 converts a one-time survey assignment into a 4-year job as a fisheries warden. These years result in detailed study of coral using advanced photography and eventually the celebrated Great Barrier Reef of Australia volume and then his Naturalist follow-up. After Darwin publishes his subsidence theory, Alex Agassiz (son of ardent anti-evolutionist Louis) becomes obsessed with disproving that theory and without the background of plate tectonics you can actually see that he has a point. While his student Alfred Mayor does some significant experiments on coral growth highlighting the importance of temperature. Real progress is finally made when Cambridge scientist Charles Yonge and his team began intensive study at their station in the Low Islands near Cairns in 1928. Yonge sees how the coral can be beneficial to the algal partner but finds no way that the coral benefits in his experiments. The big issue is that he studies coral with an abundant food supply in the dark, whereas wild coral has to survive in infertile waters where the output of its partner is crucial. In the 1960’s conservationists start to notice the effects of over fishing, development, and reef mining are having a great impact. Plans are afoot for intensive oil prospecting and it takes a real effort to suppress them. The final chapter is the modern reef expert “Charley” Veron explaining the death threat to the coral through heating and acidification. He incidentally upends the world of coral taxonomy by representing the range of reef coral species as one big hybrid swarm. Bleaching first showed up in el Nino years and is explained by coral expelling algae when temperature makes them produce so much O2 it’s toxic. Such short episodes can be reversed, but global warming will be a bigger and possibly more permanent deal. Plus acidification is going to be an even bigger threat in the near future. Pleasant enough read, but would have liked a little more science.
2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The Reef: A Passionate History, connects the dots and fills in blank spaces of a history and spirit I'd only glimpsed before. 15. August 2014
Von Bill Wells - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
I selected this book from a review in the Economist for reading on a dive trip in Fiji. Having chased Cook's path around the Pacific from Lizard Island to Kealakekua Bay in Hawaii, I thought this history might fill in some of the gaps. It did much more. It brings life to the rigors and perils of exploring and mapping unknown territories. As a biologist it provided perspective to the path of gaining understanding what reef building corals really are, and how misunderstood they have been. As a non-Australian it brought life and depth to some of the place names I'd seen but didn't have a back story for. The discussions of the interactions with the Aboriginal people resolved questions I had from my first visit in 1989. I didn't grasp how much change was happening then and there. Then there is getting to meet "Charlie" Veron. This book prodded me to to pull my dusty copies of his works on coral off the shelf and dive in again with a renewed recognition of their clarity. Corals are hard--to study and understand that is. Corals have endured radical climate change in past, and are likely to do so again. McCalman's parting optimism and this book restore faith that a few good people working hard together at the right time can make a difference. Well done Iain. This is a good read!
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