Long before adventure travel became the realm of thrill-seeking super-athletes, an astonishing breed of naturalists and birders, such as Georg Wilhelm Steller (of Steller's jay fame) and Alfred Russel Wallace, pushed into untamed corners of the globe. Their tales of hardship and heartbreak render many modern epics puny in comparison. This historical account links the journeys and contributions of these early explorers to document ornithology's evolution into a scientific field of study. Particularly fascinating is the subtext of how early ornithologists grappled with one another in formulating the first crude classification schemes. While this book's "conciseness" necessarily strips away many exciting details to make way for occasionally mind-numbing sequences of dates and mini-biographies, the reader will still be transported into this heroic age.
-- David Lukas