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Our Magnificent Wildlife: How to Enjoy & Preserve It

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An illustrated guide on natural life and its preservation.


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An illustrated guide on natural life and its preservation.

31 review for Our Magnificent Wildlife: How to Enjoy & Preserve It

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    Before Dorling Kindersley, there was Reader’s Digest. To explain a little, Dorling Kindersley is a British publishing company which was established in 1974. It specialises in illustrated reference books for adults and children, and now publishes in 63 languages. They have a range of titles in many genres, including Travel eg.,“Eyewitness travel”, History, Science, Nature, Sport, Gardening, Cookery and Parenting. Dorling Kindersley books have a unique “look”; a production style, and are a treat to Before Dorling Kindersley, there was Reader’s Digest. To explain a little, Dorling Kindersley is a British publishing company which was established in 1974. It specialises in illustrated reference books for adults and children, and now publishes in 63 languages. They have a range of titles in many genres, including Travel eg.,“Eyewitness travel”, History, Science, Nature, Sport, Gardening, Cookery and Parenting. Dorling Kindersley books have a unique “look”; a production style, and are a treat to browse through, whether you have a prior interest in the topic or not. They are well-designed, eye-catching, informative, and extremely visual. “Reader’s Digest” is an American general interest family magazine which was founded in 1922, and is now published monthly. Although it is hugely popular worldwide, it has also been rather frowned on by some sections of the British reading public with an intellectual bent. It is notorious for including “junk” mail and its many prize draws. The American part of the organisation also produced “Condensed Books”: one or more novels by popular authors, in a library edition. This divided opinion. These books, with their leatherette covers and gold tooling, looked rather fine in your home, but why would anyone wish to read abridgements rather than the novels themselves? All this sniping stopped, when high quality illustrated reference books began to be produced by the British part of the organisation. The first was “The Reader’s Digest Great World Atlas” in 1961. When it was published, it was the first time that pictures and text had been truly integrated - by any publisher. The British public were finally sold on “Reader’s Digest”. These books were breathtakingly beautiful, and absorbing reads. The target readers in the early days were self-taught adults. Many had left school in their early teens, and were now hungry for information themselves - and hungry too for their children to succeed. Reader’s Digest produced engaging and comprehensible books on Science, History, Medicine, Wildlife, British Heritage and Travel, Dictionaries and General Knowledge as well as Practical Gardening, DIY and Cookery manuals. These popular quality books used excellent writers, illustrators and photographers, and had high standards of fact checking to ensure that the information was correct. Unlike the weekly magazine, the books were produced to exceptionally high standards, and were large chunky volumes. These luxury books were not cheap, and were the sort of books the people they were aimed at would save up to buy. Most homes had a few. I remember half a dozen - maybe even a dozen - of these special books, which were much valued in my childhood home. I particularly enjoyed the ones about animals, and Nature. There was a copy of the “Book of the Road” in most people’s houses, often a “Do-It-Yourself Manual”, plus maybe one on villages, and churches. Because of the connection with the magazine, as each book was published, it was possible to advertise to huge numbers of people individually. This meant that the “Reader’s Digest” direct mailing system sold hundreds of thousands of each book, thereby providing budgets that were far greater than today’s. Looking at Readers Digest books from the 1970s and 1980s, we can only marvel at the sheer quantity and quality of the content. “The Great World Atlas” and its later editions went on to sell more than 20 million copies. Even now, books from this era seem of better quality and content than contemporary reference books (even Dorling Kindersley, who emulated Readers Digest, but whose books are not as comprehensive). But over time, the public has changed its habits of information acquisition. Now, with all our computers, tablets and other gadgets there is no place for the old-fashioned print reference titles which just answer straightforward questions. Simple encyclopedic reference books seem irrelevant. The Reader’s Digest team in the UK struggled to continue to produce their unique books, but finally stopped in January 2013. We are left with a rich resource of imaginative, attractive and content-rich books, of which we can be proud. Some are still in people’s homes; others in antiquarian bookshops, or for sale over the internet. The books look as bright and fresh as when they were first published, yet people will dip into them, and then probably decide that they do not want to give up the shelf space. All this information is available on the internet. Our Magnificent Wildlife: How to Enjoy and Preserve It dates from the heyday of these luxury books. It is a large, hefty volume, published in 1975. Leafing through, one is aware of stunning design, with a variety of different fonts used on each page. It is packed with photographs, illustrations, and diagrams. Although it is an information book, with a comprehensive index at the back, it is divided into features: magazine style, rather than chapters. Three pages at the beginning list the sections: “An Endangered Heritage” “Wildlife Living Free” “Wild Worlds” “The Web of Life” “Zoos - the Peaceable Kingdoms” and “Success Stories” Even this list of contents has attractive coloured photographs down the left hand side! Each section contains an average of fifteen features. Picking just one from each section respectively, we have: “Peril Point for Sea Turtles” “How to Rescue a National Park” “Life on the Coldest Continent” “Is the Cheetah a Loser?” “The Rescue of Pere David’s Deer” and “Scotland’s Ospreys Come Home” Enticing though these titles are, Reader’s Digest books made their serious credentials clear. At the back of the book is a thirty page section on “Where to See Wildlife” divided into sections on Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, North America, and Central and South America. Each has a sketch map, with clear pointers, and a few paragraphs of descriptions of the main places to see wild animals (and how to get there), including parks, reserves and zoos. I do wonder how many other armchair travellers have dreamed their way through this section, especially in the early days of these books, when globe-trotting was an expensive luxury. After this comes a one page Bibliography, a conventional Index over three pages, plus three more pages of Picture Credits and Acknowledgements. The authors of the features have already all be credited individually on the Contents page, next to their article(s). This is a amazing book for 1975, and would deserve 5 stars then. However, by the nature of its subject, some features are perhaps now superseded, so that the choice may be different in a newer volume. The quality however, remains outstanding. It is always difficult to get rid of any “Reader’s Digest” book from my shelves. They stay as pristine and colourful as they were when new. Lack of space, however, determines that this one must find its way to the charity shop. I hope that someone there may pounce on it in delight, and wonder anew at the world opened up to them, through these fascinating features.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mel

  3. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brad Thompson

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

  7. 4 out of 5

    Сергей Шахрай

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sals

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robin Guest

  10. 5 out of 5

    Briana

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wolfread

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

  13. 4 out of 5

    Trav

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shirley

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jozef Nakielski

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carol Rose Stark Neal

  17. 4 out of 5

    Heather

  18. 4 out of 5

    Megan Bryan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kym Eden

  20. 5 out of 5

    Linda Brooks

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alina

  22. 5 out of 5

    Janet Eriksson

  23. 4 out of 5

    Faisal Suleman

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gina

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sajid Habeeb

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Boeke Vir

  29. 4 out of 5

    melody ryan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ruben

  31. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

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