Audubon: Life and Art in the American Wilderness (Paperback)
Wendy's Staff Pick (March 2014): This is a fascinating biography, well-written and nothing to bog you down. I loved learning about early 19th century life in America, while focusing on the century’s great naturalist James W. Audubon. The book recounts his struggle to bring his visionengraving images of all North American bird species to life.— From Wendy's Picks
In 1803, an eighteen-year-old West Indies-born Frenchman arrived in New York City, fleeing Napoleon's conscription. His work would become inextricably entwined with the new world he so proudly adopted in his motto "America, my country." Inspired by the primeval forests and the vast flocks of birds that thrived in them, Audubon spent the next several decades of his life painstakingly documenting the birds of the American wilderness. He traveled the back roads and bayous, searching out and studying the birds that were his pastime and passion. He spent long, silent hours observing them in the wild. He was no amateur ornithologist; rather, he drew his birds from life, and his work always carried the line "drawn from nature by J. J. Audubon." Accompanied by his wife, Lucy, and their two sons, Audubon was able to challenge the world's expectations and win. The story of this loving family's long, profound struggle is as poignant and as relevant today as it was in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Combining meticulous scholarship with the dramatic life story of a naturalist and pioneer, Audubon reexamines the artist's journals and letters to tell the story of Audubon's quest, the origins of the American spirit, and the sacrifice that resulted in one of the world's greatest bodies of art: The Birds of America.
About the Author
Shirley Streshinsky is the critically acclaimed author of three works of nonfiction and four historical novels. As a journalist and travel essayist, she has written extensively for "Redbook, Glamour, Preservation, American Heritage, The American Scholar, " and "Conde Nast Traveler "and has been featured on NPR. She is the recipient of the Society of Magazine Writers' Award for Excellence and the National Council for the Advancement of Education Writing Award. She was married to the late photojournalist Ted Streshinsky and has three grown children. She lives in Kensington (Berkeley), California.