A Tale of Two Cranes by Nathanial Gronewold [6/10]

Written by an ardent journalist pursuing a topic out of love, A Tale of Two Cranes: Lessons Learned from 50 Years of the Endangered Species Act is just the type of book we need, a readable, story-telling exposition unfolding academic research. For many, the topic of the relative success rates of conservation efforts in different countries applied to two similar, highly threatened bird species might hold little intrinsic interest, but there are general threads here, to do with how best we can bend the current looming mass extinction of species towards something sustainable. The storyline is actually very engaging: in southern America, the resplendent Whooping Crane species was on its last legs after World War II, as was the similarly beautiful Red-crowned Crane (until now I had not realized how matching they are in appearance!) in northern Japan. Conservation efforts in the United States fell under the landmark 1973 Endangered Species Act (which the author analyzes with fine detail), while in Japan, individuals led the charge. Both species are now out of the worst danger zone, while still under the hammer, but, the author wonders, which approach worked best? Can we learn from this? Nathanial Gronewold is a super enthusiastic chronicler, so keen to ensure we understand complex material that he is often discursive and repetitive, and he writes in a fluid, conversational manner. Overall, A Tale of Two Cranes is a welcome addition to the recent flood of climate change/conservation reading for the ordinary citizen, and if the topic twitches your antennae, I can recommend it.

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