The Heartbeat of the Wild
The Heartbeat of the Wild, Quammen’s newest book, is an intellectual journey, recounting a series of adventuresome physical journeys, amid some of the most spectacular wild creatures and wild places on planet Earth. Based on twenty-one feature stories written for National Geographic Magazine over a span of twenty years, it carries the reader from dense Central African forests to remote rivers in Kamchatka, from the Serengeti savannah to the Iberá wetlands of Argentina, and beyond, as Quammen explores landscapes and ideas that exemplify what “wildness” still means in the twenty-first century.
The Heartbeat of the Wild is more than a collection of previously published articles. It’s a book built upon magazine reporting but shaped now to be a coherent work, with new material updating the facts and trends, connective commentary describing how these assignments came to be, and a Foreword and Afterword making a case for what is essential to the phenomenon we call wildness. Twenty years of assignments for National Geographic, and more than forty years altogether of traveling the world’s wild places as a journalist and author, often in the company of brilliant and doughty scientists, have given Quammen a set of strongly held opinions about what is and is not wild, why that quality is precious, and what works or does not work in efforts to preserve remnants of it on this planet. You can’t fully appreciate wildness, and you can’t protect it, unless you have heard and understood its heartbeat.