Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace
In this superbly articulate cri de coeur, Safina gives us a new way of looking at the natural world that is radically different.--The Washington PostNew York Times bestselling author Carl Safina brings readers close to three non-human cultures--what they do, why they do it, and how life is for them. Some people insist that culture is strictly a human feat. What are they afraid of? This book looks into three cultures of other-than-human beings in some of Earth's remaining wild places. It shows how if you're a sperm whale, a scarlet macaw, or a chimpanzee, you too experience your life with the understanding that you are an individual in a particular community. You too are who you are not by genes alone; your culture is a second form of inheritance. You receive it from thousands of individuals, from pools of knowledge passing through generations like an eternal torch. You too may raise young, know beauty, or struggle to negotiate a peace. And your culture, too, changes and evolves. The light of knowledge needs adjusting as situations change, so a capacity for learning, especially social learning, allows behaviors to adjust, to change much faster than genes alone could adapt. Becoming Wild offers a glimpse into cultures among non-human animals through looks at the lives of individuals in different present-day animal societies. By showing how others teach and learn, Safina offers a fresh understanding of what is constantly going on beyond humanity. With reporting from deep in nature, alongside individual creatures in their free-living communities, this book offers a very privileged glimpse behind the curtain of life on Earth, and helps inform the answer to that most urgent of questions: Who are we here with?
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"Combining the knowledge of a seasoned scientist with the skills of a good storyteller, Safina invites us to leave our cultural worlds and enter animals' ones. . . . Becoming Wild deserves to be remembered."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "[A] bracing and enlightening book. . . . Safina's writing on the watery depths and its denizens is sublime . . . [challenging] us to be more acutely aware of species whose social lives have much to teach us."
--Science "Full of rich observations . . . Becoming Wild offers readers a window into the complex and curious lives of the three species it depicts and invites [us] to observe the beauty and joy of each species's nuances."
--BookPage "Seminal. . . . By drawing attention to the importance of regional variation and acculturated behavior, Safina raises important issues for environmentalists."
--Natural History Eloquent. . . . This revelatory work sheds as much light on what it means to be human as it does on the nature of other species.
--Publishers Weekly Praise for Carl Safina "Dr. Safina is a terrific writer, majestic and puckish in equal measure, with a contagious enthusiasm. . . . He draws out haunting resonances between animal lives and our own. . . . Captivating."
--The New York Times "[Safina] felicitously combines lambent writing with dazzling facts . . . illuminating our knowledge of significant and engaging subjects."
--The Washington Post "Brilliant . . . Each of Safina's beautifully limned animal portraits is the weight of human influence and a challenge to exercise the power of empathy. . . . [Safina] is a font of research, his wonder contagious."
--Elle "Safina's engaging writing takes readers along on his journey, so that we learn about these creatures as he does. . . . His adventures with researchers observing wild animals in the field are fascinating . . . entertaining, and informative."