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CROWS ARE MISCHIEVOUS, playful, social, and passionate. They have brains that are huge for their body size and exhibit an avian kind of eloquence. They mate for life and associate with relatives and neighbors for years. And because they often live near people--in our gardens, parks, and cities--they are also keenly aware of our peculiarities, staying away from and even scolding anyone who threatens or harms them and quickly learning to recognize and approach those who care for and feed them, even giving them numerous, oddly touching gifts in return. With his extraordinary research on the intelligence and startling abilities of corvids--crows, ravens, and jays--scientist John Marzluff teams up with artist-naturalist Tony Angell to tell amazing stories of these brilliant birds in Gifts of the Crow. With narrative, diagrams, and gorgeous line drawings, they offer an in-depth look at these complex creatures and our shared behaviors. The ongoing connection between humans and crows--a cultural coevolution--has shaped both species for millions of years. And the characteristics of crows that allow this symbiotic relationship are language, delinquency, frolic, passion, wrath, risk-taking, and awareness--seven traits that humans find strangely familiar. Crows gather around their dead, warn of impending doom, recognize people, commit murder of other crows, lure fish and birds to their death, swill coffee, drink beer, turn on lights to stay warm, design and use tools, use cars as nutcrackers, windsurf and sled to play, and work in tandem to spray soft cheese out of a can. Their marvelous brains allow them to think, plan, and reconsider their actions. With its abundance of funny, awe-inspiring, and poignant stories, Gifts of the Crow portrays creatures who are nothing short of amazing. A testament to years of painstaking research and careful observation, this fully illustrated, riveting work is a thrilling look at one of nature's most wondrous creatures.
"Crows and people share similar traits and social strategies. To a surprising extent, to know the crow is to know ourselves."--from the Preface From the cave walls at Lascaux to the last painting by Van Gogh, from the works of Shakespeare to those of Mark Twain, there is clear evidence that crows and ravens influence human culture. Yet this influence is not unidirectional, say the authors of this fascinating book: people profoundly influence crow culture, ecology, and evolution as well. John Marzluff and Tony Angell examine the often surprising ways that crows and humans interact. The authors contend that those interactions reflect a process of "cultural co-evolution." They offer a challenging new view of the human-crow dynamic--a view that may change our thinking not only about crows but also about ourselves. Featuring more than 100 original drawings, the book takes a close look at the influences people have had on the lives of crows throughout history and at the significant ways crows have altered human lives. In the Company of Crows and Ravens illuminates the entwined histories of crows and people and concludes with an intriguing discussion of the crow-human relationship and how our attitudes toward crows may affect our cultural trajectory.
Sea-Brothers offers the most extensive analysis to date of the sea and its meaning in American literature. On the basis of his study of Melville, Crane, London, Hemingway, Matthiessen, and ten lesser-known sea-writers, Bert Bender argues that the tradition of American sea fiction did not end with the opening of the western frontier and the replacement of sailing ships by steamers. Rather, he demonstrates its continuity and vitality, identifying a central vision within the tradition and showing how particular authors draw from, transform, and contribute to it.What is most distinctive about American sea fiction, Bender contends, is its visionary, often mystical, response to the biological world and to man's perceived place in the larger universe. When Melville envisioned the sea as the essential element of life, indeed as life itself, he changed the course of American sea fiction by introducing the relevance of biological thought. But his meditations on the whale and "the ungraspable phantom of life" project a different reality from that envisioned by his successors. In American sea fiction after Melville, the influence of Origin of Species is as powerful as that of Moby Dick or the theme of sailing ships being displaced by steam.The ideal of brotherhood so central to American sea fiction was severely compromised by the biological reality of a competitive, warring nature. Twentieth-century sea fiction has continued to center on the biological world and address the possibility of democratic brotherhood, but the issues were fundamentally changed by Darwin's theories.This book will be a valuable source for students and scholars of American literature and will interest readers of sea fiction.