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For the Beauty of the Earth

Birding, Opera, and Other Journeys

List Price: $15.00

February 15, 2006 | Paperback | 5-1/2 x 8-1/4, 320 pages | ISBN 9781593760939
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Today, when most personal memoirs involve misery and dysfunction, it is exhilarating to encounter a life of modesty, happiness, and immeasurable stability.

Often when we think of nature writers and naturalists, we think of the rough–hewn rural, rugged, outdoor type wrestled into epiphany by the arms of Mother Nature. Thomas Urquhart found a different path. He combined a classical education with a lifelong passion for opera, literature, and art. And from his earliest days he is a devoted, devotedly amateur naturalist.

In For the Beauty of the Earth Urquhart begins with the lives of his ancestors, among them his grandmother, “a patron saint of lost causes” who cherished her signed photo of Robert E. Lee, his great aunt Catharine, arrested along with Edna St. Vincent Millay and Marianne Moore while protesting what she considered the judicial murder of Sacco and Vanzetti. From the hills and fields of England—both old and new—he takes us to Italy for “birding through the Renaissance,” then invites us to the wild landscape of Camargue in Provence, and the villages of Mali in West Africa. Through the years, birding provided Urquhart with opportunities for travel, a practical education, and a passionate place in the natural world.

About Thomas Urquhart

Thomas A. Urquhart was the executive director of the Maine Audubon Society from 1988 to 2000. Educated at Oxford University, he has worked for conservation organizations for twenty-five years. He lives with his wife and children in Falmouth, Maine.

"'Charming' is one of those words we don't use anymore--"it implies quaint or precious. But not in this case. I haven't read a book in a long time that let me drift so easily into that other, larger world around us, that managed to say serious and useful things with such grace and gentleness. My evenings with it felt, well, charmed."

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