John James Audubon is renowned for his masterpiece of natural history and art, The Birds of America, the first nearly comprehensive survey of the continent’s birdlife. And yet few people understand, and many assume incorrectly, what sort of man he was. How did the illegitimate son of a French sea captain living in Haiti, who lied both about his parentage and his training, rise to become one of the greatest natural historians ever and the greatest name in ornithology? In Under a Wild Sky this Pulitzer Prize finalist, William Souder reveals that Audubon did not only compose the most famous depictions of birds the world has ever seen, he also composed a brilliant mythology of self. In this dazzling work of biography, Souder charts the life of a driven man who, despite all odds, became the historical figure we know today.
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The leader swoops in raspberry branches in her beak the pale cream dove was pretty.
A truly fascinating and well written book. I have always been enamored of Audubon's great masterpieces of bird art contained in "The Birds Of America", but never realized all the trials and tribulations Audubon endured to create these works and to get them engraved and published. Through economic hardship, family conflict, and mental instability still this great man was able to accomplish the completion of this monumental work which to my mind is one of America's great contributions to the world. The author, William Souder is an amazing writer and drives the narrative like no other author I have read; I look forward to reading his biography of Rachel Carson. Not only are his descriptions of Audubon's life and times wonderful, but he also portrays magnificently Audubon's America, a place vastly different than our own and so rich in natural wonders. I wish I could visit early pristine America and see it's natural treasures with Audubon as my guide. A wonderful read and one I would recommend to anyone interested in the early natural history of America and definitely for those curious about this great man and his amazing contribution to ornithology. A must read and one of my new favorite books.
This mystical story haunted me for nearly a year until I came upon a copy of an Audubon print, beautifully matted & framed. It was last in the stack, because it was the largest in the gallery, of course, because the birds are depicted life size--just as he always wanted them to be. Under a Wild Sky is a sunrise for any artist who needs to be inspired and a page turning delight for readers of history and adventure. Buy it!