Book Review: 100 Heartbeats by Jeff Corwin

100 heartbeatsIf you’ve watched him on television,  it would be easy to mistake Jeff Corwin for an intellectual light-weight–   a kind of peppy Preppy class clown and animal lover.    But such a characterization would surely sell Corwin short.   In this November 2009 release,  Corwin (who in fact has a master’s degree in wildlife conservation from the University of Massachusetts) tells the heart-breaking tales of the 100 Heartbeat club,  which refers to endangered species who have fewer than 100 living members.

By focusing each short chapter on a particular endangered species and alternating success stories of species that have been brought back from the brink of extinction (for instance the American eagle) with tales of species who still very much need to be saved,  Corwin is able to teach the basics of wildlife conservation in a very readable and easy to comprehend way.     I was fascinated by the plight of tigers in Asia and tales of prairie dogs in the American heartland.     I was particularly impressed by the many stories which stress that species can only be saved when many people and all stake-holders join together to take action.     While Corwin does not in any way downplay global warming or the terrible urgency of the current crisis,   his tone nonetheless is upbeat and invites the reader to participate in preserving our biological diversity,  rather than despairing the many species that have already been lost.        If you care about wild animals,  100 Heartbeats is Highly Recommended.

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