A Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All

A Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All

3.8 16
by Luke Dempsey
     
 

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It began with a weekend house; then weekend trips. Then the occasional meeting rearranged in favor of a morning in Central Park, just while the spring migration was on. Before Luke Dempsey knew it, he had spiraled down into full-on birding mania - finding himself riding along with two like-minded maniacs in a series of disreputable rental cars and even nastier motel…  See more details below

Overview

It began with a weekend house; then weekend trips. Then the occasional meeting rearranged in favor of a morning in Central Park, just while the spring migration was on. Before Luke Dempsey knew it, he had spiraled down into full-on birding mania - finding himself riding along with two like-minded maniacs in a series of disreputable rental cars and even nastier motel rooms, charging madly around the country in search of its rarest and most beautiful birds.
A Supremely Bad Idea is the story of that search, and those birds, and those maniacs, and that country, and (to a much lesser extent) those rental cars. In Texas, the three obsessives go in search of the deeply endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler, which lives on the side of a hill near a waterfall; in Michigan, they see the pretty-much-extinct Kirtland's Warbler, which insists on short pine trees for nesting and lots of "quiet, please"; in Arizona, they see the very private Elegant Trogon after a very public fight with a birding guide. Along the way, Dempsey narrates an amazing sequence of encounters with nature and humanity, including a man building a 40-foot ark in his Seattle backyard; a beautiful woman who shows him how to kill 4,000 Cowbirds a year; a coyote (and his human smuggler) on the Rio Grande; and everywhere, these incandescent birds flitting across the range of his binoculars, and his heart.
With the casual erudition of a Bill Bryson and the comic timing of a British David Sedaris, Dempsey demonstrates why so many millions of birders care so much about birds - and why, perhaps, the rest of us should, too.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Dempsey, a transplanted Brit and editor in chief of Hudson Street Press, entertainingly recounts his passion for bird watching as he meanders with two birder friends to birding hot spots in Florida, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Washington State, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York's Central Park, enjoying misadventures and good times along the way. Dempsey is not averse to using occasional obscenities as well as beautifully turned phrases by way of contrast. His picaresque account features several quirky recurring leitmotifs: peculiar signage encountered in his travels, the author's like or dislike of tomatoes and their end products, his divorce and two daughters, and his confrontations with rude people. To one very overweight, obnoxious family he quips as a parting shot, "Have you considered salads?" Dempsey can also be informative and engagingly partisan, as when he describes complex ecological problems such as those found in the Everglades. Throughout, the book is imbued with his appreciation of the wonders, beauty, and fragility of the natural world. A bit lightweight for hard-core birders, this should appeal to general readers interested in nature. Recommended for larger public libraries.
—Henry T. Armistead

From the Publisher

“A gentle, contemplative memoir punctuated by frequent bursts of hilarity and weirdness. At some points, the book reads like a cross between Bill Bryson and Dave Barry (or perhaps Patrick McManus), and that's a very good thing, indeed.” —Booklist

“Luke Dempsey's narrative, as witty and intelligent as vintage Bill Bryson, moves along at a brisk and sometimes breathless pace. His enthusiastic appreciation of the beauty of the moment makes for compelling reading.” —Natural History

“Riotously funny, utterly enthralling.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Dempsey succeeds where few authors do. He masterfully shows how a few chance encounters can transform a seemingly normal guy (or gal) into someone obsessed with birds. Dempsey chronicles a series of adventures and misadventures that perhaps better capture what birding means in 2008 than any other book. His success might stem from his ability to seamlessly intertwine history and social book.” —WildBird magazine

“Luke Dempsey... has written an engaging story about his introduction to this "quietly heroic" society... his enthusiasm for his new friends and new life are winning.” —New York Times

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608196685
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
01/15/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
579,702
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Luke Dempsey is the editor-in-chief of Hudson Street Press, a division of Penguin USA. A graduate of Oxford University, he moved to the United States in 1995, since when he's held a number of editorial positions in the publishing industry. He is the proud father of twin girls, both of whom love birds, too, and a proud member of the modern beat combo The Railbangers. This is his first book.

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Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Honestly i choose this book from the bargin bin. I am by no means a birder and neither was the author in the beginning. This book was hysterical! I loved it from the first page. The authors writing style is easy and natural ,Almost like your in a conversation rather than just reading. Give this book a try for entertainment and a few laugh out loud moments.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extremely well written, but again, you must be into birds & nature. Otherwise, you might not understand the author's "obsession". I loved it!
Holly Grant More than 1 year ago
I pick this book up whenever I need a good laugh. As a bird I can relate to some of the crazy antics described and made fun of in this book. Love this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have mixed feelings about this book. It is certainly written well, and I learned a lot about birds. Unfortunately, Dempsey doesn't seem to like people very much. He whinges about strangers, other birders, and worst of all, his 'friends.' And that's when he isn't coming up with derogatory names for other people - like 'the Pregnants.' He seems to believe he is better than the rest of us. He occasionally throws in sweet comments about his daughters, but they seem contrived and almost like an afterthought. I don't know - while I am interested in the subject, the tone of the book left me with a bad taste. It could have been funny and informative without taking pot-shots at just about everyone he came in contact with.
TSlush More than 1 year ago
I liked this book a lot. Almost enough to pick up a pair of binoculars and see for myself if birds could actually become an obsession. Mr. Dempsey does have a particularly snarky sense of humor-so if you take offense easy you are going to miss some of the gems of the book--for instance, his gentle pokes at his friends, himself, and the "pregnants."
His righteous indignation over perceived slights is hilarious...I can almost see his man cape unfurling to right the wrongs...A great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like birding, you will enjoy this book. Keep your Sibley's or Peterson's close at hand, as these birders see some rare birds. Humorous and informative.
EBCNJ More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic. The author's wit and humor really make this a great read. I was also fascinated by the birds and the idea of birding. I almost want to be a birder myself now. Almost.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very funny book with alot of helpful information on birds. I, myself, am a birder and while reading this book, I was inspired to just get out and look in my own backyard instead of wishing for something big at the popular birding sites. Re: the author not liking people very much, I find that to be a very shallow take on his humor. When you spend so much time with people and in such close quarters, there are certain quirks that you notice, he notes these quirks with a very dry sense of humor which is part of the hilarity of the book. Also, "the pregnants", I couldn't have said it better myself! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the bird watching adventures relayed with sharp British outlook. Very funny! I was entertained.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book very interesting, and informative. View points were a little liberal for my liking.
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